This dog wants to read your client stories. Image via Flickr user cogdogblog.
Want another way to reach current and potential clients? Don't scare away business with an in-your-face sales pitch. Instead use content marketing as a way to demonstrate your talent and expertise and draw clients in more naturally. Wikipedia.org
has a good definition of content marketing: Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases. Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action. Content marketing has benefits in terms of retaining reader attention and improving brand loyalty.
The Wikipedia.org definition doesn't mention the search benefits of content marketing. By creating content such as a client story or tutorial that lives on your website, you are creating new web pages laden with relevant words and phrases so clients can find you more easily in searches. It is also easy to promote your content using Twitter
and LinkedIn status updates. To convert people from visitors to new business through content, add a call-to-action link or button near each piece of content. If you are offering something really long or information-packed, such as an e-book explaining "How to Brand a Small Business," then use a sign up form to capture customer information before allowing people to download the piece. For freelance graphic designers, client stories, testimonials and tutorials are three types of content that can help sell your design services. I chose these three types of content because they are shorter and easier to write and edit than a long form piece such as an e-book. Below I will go into more detail about how to leverage these three types of content. 1. Client stories
You can also call these case studies. Client stories tell how you worked with a business to overcome a graphic design challenge and what the stunning results were. Stay within 700-800 words total. Use headings such as background, challenges, solutions and results to segment out the story into little bite-sized chapters. If you designed a brochure with a call-to-action and 300 people contacted the business via that brochure, that's a good result to share. For designers, sometimes the results may be more intangible, like improved brand awareness or anecdotal evidence that customers like a new design. Be sure to get permission from your client to share the story. Get a quote from them about why they enjoyed working with you to weave in to the story. Finally, put some artwork up with the story to illustrate what you worked on or provide a link to the design if it's in your online portfolio. 2. Testimonials
I've written about the power of testimonials
before. Getting a personal blurb from a previous client about why working with you is wonderful can help land new business. First get permission from the client to publish their first and last names and the name of their business. One way to sweeten the pot is to provide a link (that opens in a new window so you can retain your viewer) from your testimonial page to their website. The more specific a testimonial, the better, so provide the approximate year or date you worked together. In order to come up with interesting and specific quotes, set up a time to call the client. Before you call, generate a list of five or 10 questions about the project you worked on together. If you ask questions related to the project, they'll be forced to provide more detailed answers. 3. Tutorials
Is there a really basic software or design question that you get asked over and over from clients and friends? They are usually simple questions, such as "How do I create a link without an underline?" or "How do I flatten an InDesign file?" Do your design colleagues ever call you with questions about how to create certain effects in Photoshop? Address these types of questions in short video tutorials that live on your website. Not only will the tutorials showcase your expertise, they'll also give potential clients an opportunity to hear your voice and the way you communicate. Hearing you speak, visitors to the site will feel they are getting to know you. This can make it more comfortable for visitors to contact you and continue the relationship as clients. Here are a few links to free software for creating screen casts:
Some other good content marketing pieces are podcasts, mini ebooks (5-page PDF how-to's), e-books (6-10+ pages), Webinars and presentation slides. Have any questions, suggestions or links to your own content marketing? Please leave any or all of those thoughts in the comments.