Providing pertinent information has become an extremely valuable technique for turning potential customers into satisfied, returning customers. When you freely provide potential customers with material that answers their questions or fills their needs, they will begin to consider you a trustworthy friend, and they will consider you the “go-to” authority in a particular field.
Creating this valuable information, referred to as content, is a skill that can be developed, defined and redefined over time. Through the Internet, several avenues are available to spread the word that you are the undisputed authority and therefore the best source for a specific product or service. Following is an examination of five content types that will establish trust and authority:
A blog is similar to a friendly chat over a cup of coffee.
- Blogs are short bits of written information that are frequently updated. Blogs usually are fewer than 500 words.
- For business purposes, blogs are the perfect content method for sharing information concerning upcoming events, related news events or stories, changes, additions or deletions to products or services.
- Blogs are written in a casual, friendly manner and help establish a “voice” that frequent blog readers will become familiar and comfortable with.
- Blogs are also a great way for a business to ask questions and solicit answers. By encouraging readers to participate, they begin to feel they are partners in your business.
An article is more complete and detailed than a blog. Articles should also be friendly, but more like a one-hour crash course in a subject.
- Articles are usually longer written informational pieces, typically between 350 and 750 words.
- Articles usually are written in a slightly less casual manner than are blogs, but still are not overly technical.
- In addition to providing pertinent information, that directly addresses a question or need, articles will often contain hyperlinks that lead the reader to other sources of information.
- A truly effective article will provide knowledge the reader wants to share with others. Make sharing your articles as easy as possible.
One step beyond an article, a whitepaper provides more extensive details. A good whitepaper examines a subject carefully and expertly, similar to an intensive one-day seminar.
- A whitepaper is substantially longer, usually between 1200 and 3000 words.
- They focus specifically on one aspect of a product or service.
- They may be written in a highly technical manner. Depending on their intended audience, whitepapers may contain terms and phrases only familiar to someone already somewhat versed in the subject.
- Whitepapers are not as freely distributed as blogs or articles. The recipient of a whitepaper will be made to feel they are considered special enough to warrant receiving this information.
An eBook may be even more detailed and specific than a whitepaper; or it may be more of a continuation of communication at the article level. The target audience will dictate this level.
- An eBook is an electronic book, published on the internet for reading on a computer screen or eBook reader. They can be anywhere from a few pages to hundreds of pages.
- EBooks can be highly technical, very conversational or a combination of techniques used in blogs, articles and whitepapers.
- Accessing an eBook requires steps such as entering an email address and going through a downloading process. This makes the reader feel they are receiving something special and must be important if a company is offering them this opportunity.
- Through digitally creating an eBook, it is easy and effective to include images, photographs, diagrams and charts that add value to the content you are offering your customers.
These can be a culmination of all the content you have shared through your blogs, articles, whitepapers and eBooks.
- Webinars and videos add another dimension to your content communication method. In addition to written material, you have the opportunity to add visual and audio communication.
- Webinars are an excellent method for encouraging potential customers to interact with you, your company and other potential customers. Webinars can be live or recorded events.
- Both videos and webinars can potentially be watched more than once (at a time and place convenient to your customer), and can be easily shared.
- Being invited to participate in a webinar event, or to watch a special video, will make your customer feel they are important to both you and your business.
These are five essential methods for sharing content that will establish you and your businesses as sources of information that can be trusted.