In today's "social" age, many commercial cleaning companies have yet to venture beyond traditional marketing tactics, such as direct mail pieces or print advertising.
While many businesses and business leaders have heard that they should be embracing social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, they are often left with the question of what to post.
The absence of valuable content results in missed opportunities to directly engage customers, improve search engine optimization (SEO) and increase website traffic.
What many businesses don't realize is that, if they know and understand their target customer, they are more than halfway to generating quality content.
The same rules apply if you're a cleaning professional looking to enhance industry contacts and make yourself more marketable for a new job or promotion.
Entrepreneur recently ran an article about the proliferation of content-based marketing, which highlighted a survey of more than 400 business-to-business (B2B) marketers about the state of the market.
Findings showed that almost twice as many B2B marketing gurus have embraced content marketing as their go-to strategy over traditional forms of marketing.
In fact, 82 percent of marketers indicated that they are using some form of content marketing in their overall strategy.
What Is Content Marketing?
Defined, content marketing is the act of creating and sharing content to engage current and potential customers.
Instead of directly pitching your products or services, empower your customers with the information they need to better perform their jobs and make the right purchasing decisions.
For example, if you specialize in floor care products, develop an article discussing floor care tips.
Try to make it timely by tying it into a season or event.
The main rule to follow is to ensure that the content is educational, not promotional.
Don't Reinvent The Wheel
Developing content is the biggest hurdle when it comes to either starting or ramping up your social media efforts.
Content marketing comes in many forms, including press releases, white papers, digital content, webinars, podcasts, websites, events and more.
Instead of starting from scratch, review all of the collateral that your business has used in the past to see if it can be turned into an educational piece.
Often times, companies have a lot of information that can be revived into quality literature.
Great subjects to write about include your customers'' pain points and solutions, timely industry news, a series of "how-to" articles, case studies, etc.
One challenge that many companies face is finding the time to create the material.
Some don't have the staff or the writing expertise on hand.
In this case, many often partner with a public relations firm that specializes in editorial services.
By establishing a partnership with an agency, you can develop cost-effective, valuable pieces that can be used across different mediums.
Spread The Word
As you develop content, start signing your business up for social sites including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Start tracking and "friending" customers, prospects, employees, partners and competitors to establish a following.
Because these venues are "social," it's important to start conversations and comment on others'' discussions as well.
Also, use humor occasionally to let your personality shine through.
Social media is meant to be fun, and it's a great way to share valuable information relating to your business.
Twitter is used for more frequent engagement, so aim to post on Twitter at least once a day, if not more.
Tweets can include tips provided in press releases, articles or podcasts, links to relevant industry news items and retweets from other industry representatives like as @ISSAWorldwide or @CMeNewsDaily.
While tweeting out news and information is key to using Twitter, it is equally important to engage followers to ensure they know you are also listening to them.
Facebook users are quick to "defriend" you or "unlike" your business if you post too often, so save important company news or content for your Facebook page.
Make Facebook followers feel privileged by offering them exclusive access to information from your company, such as before-and-after pictures of a project, a new customer win or a "behind the scenes" look at a job.
Pictures go a long way in the cleaning industry, so take your camera with you in the morning — if you don't have a camera on your phone — so you can capture a shot when the opportunity presents itself.
LinkedIn is a great place to showcase your expertise.
Join industry groups and engage in discussions.
Oftentimes, end users have questions about everyday cleaning challenges or staffing issues.
By helping them with their problems, they see that you have the knowledge to do the job, and it might be the first step to a sale.
LinkedIn also provides a great vehicle for posting links to industry articles you have written, further showcasing your knowledge and expertise.
Delivering quality content through social media sites will engage customers and prospects and help raise your business profile.
Beyond using the material for social media purposes, post it on your website and encourage your sales team to utilize it in new business meetings.
Doing so will educate your prospects and position you as a thought leader in your industry.
Andi Vance is director at Mulberry Marketing Communications, a public relations agency specializing in the cleaning industry. She has more than 12 years of experience developing communications programs for cleaning industry clients. For more information, please visit www.MulberryMC.com or contact Vance directly at AVance@MulberryMC.com.