Done right, content marketing is less like advertising and more like customer service – it’s about answering your customers’ questions. In fact, I’d go so far as to recommend that a good chunk of your content marketing budget come out of your customer service budget, not out of your advertising budget.

With marketing being the mindset behind every form of advertising, a common mistake is that content marketing is just another lane in the Advertising Highway. So many brands and companies use articles and blog posts as sales pitches, and as a result, turn their audience off of trusting them. Why? Because everything is a sales pitch, and after a day of being bombarded by businesses pleading to them to buy something, the last thing customers want is to be pushed to take part in yet another pitch.

Content marketing should not be a sales pitch, but rather the building of a relationship. Yes, the end goal of the relationship is to make a sale, but the nature of the relationship is so much than just an exchange of cash for services: it’s about helping one another.

Just like in customer service, the purpose of content marketing is to be genuinely helpful to the customer and treat them not so much as a customer but as one who has turned to you for help. Help in coming up with ideas in how to use your products or services, and possibly even tips on how to best live their lives (Better known as “Life-Hacks”). When the nature of the relationship shifts towards trust, that bond is almost impossible to break, and therefore is infinitely more valuable in the long run than a onetime sale, because they will not only become a client with your brand once, but again and again. It’s not supposed to make you a quick buck, and it shouldn’t move just one needle. When done correctly, content marketing moves them all, and not only gathers customers, but keeps them.

Using Content in Customer Service

Keyword stuffing can only get you so far when it comes to roping customers to your website. It may help bump the needle upwards a little for your websites traffic, but it won’t keep viewers coming back. When posted content is useful, or even just entertaining, it is absolutely unignorable to viewers, and not only keeps them on your site longer, but keeps them checking back for more.

By being a source of answers, guidance, and suggestions for your customers, your brand becomes an authority and as a result, generates trust in your brand, which translates into a growth of traffic for your website as well as a larger following.

Content that provides detailed how-to’s, tutorials, potential uses for your line of products, and pretty much anything that addresses FAQ’s enforces the fact that your brand is a source of authoritative content that genuinely seeks to enrich customers lives. Seeking first to assist and make customer lives better goes a long way farther than when it is apparent that your brand is seeking just to make a profit off of everything.

Content as a Service Model – Fewer Sales Pitches, More Relationships, Better Customer Service

By using the Content as a Service model pioneered by Limitless Interactive, you are setting out with an emphasis on building solid relationships with customers by providing them with much more than just products- you are genuinely seeking to help and enrich their lives through your brand’s posted content.

There are four aspects of the Content as a Service model:

Strategic Narratives

A strategic narrative is the communication of a business objective.

Your customers are reading your content because you’re talking about something they care about. A strategic narrative helps us define what it is we’re talking about.

It looks like this: We want to communicate that ____________.

Tentpole Development

The tentpoles of your content marketing strategy are the pillars of content that support your strategic narratives. They exemplify your brand’s specialties – what you do better than anyone else – and are hubs of information for customers to consume.

Customer-Centric Story Telling

Your content should captivate your customers and keeps them coming back for more. The first step is answering the question they have. Filling the need.

Customer-centric storytelling creates content that directly relates to and addresses your followers’ needs by offering advice or general helpful knowledge. These articles, blog posts, or multimedia postings each tell stories that enrich the viewer’s lives and educate them about just how helpful your brand can be in making their lives better.

Lifecycle Analytics

Understanding what type of content your customers are responding to is crucial to building a great content campaign. Lifecycle analytics trace your user’s journey through your content and provides concrete, measurable data that can be used to both inform future content efforts as well as change and modify product offerings.

Your Brand is More than Just a Place to Buy Products

Customers come to brands, and return to brands, when they know they will give them what they want, and then give them more.

General Electric for example, instead of just having their website be a place where customers can purchase and check out the latest microwaves and washer and dryer models, they turned their web space into a platform that visitors can view breathtaking pieces of visual content that showcase what else the renowned technology brand is working on across the world, making their website where they also sell products a place that was checked and rechecked daily by not just customers, but fans of the brand.

Other corporate run blogs such Whole Foods, Home Depot, Nike, and countless others have adapted to doing more with their websites and online spots than just pushing products by telling stories through published content. Whole Foods converted their online presence into a hub for recipe ideas that showcase what shoppers could potentially do with different combinations of their products. Home Depot followed the same thought with their brand by posting creative DIY ideas that could be easily completed by people who are not necessarily master craftsmen. Nike set out to take the spotlight off of their celebrity endorsements with content that celebrated nonprofessional athletes taking time from their busy everyday lives and try and get fit, and for a period of a few months, the campaign updated brand followers of these individuals’ fitness goals.

The outcome of these campaigns did more than just fill up web space: they converted, engaged, educated, and hooked viewers on what these brands represented. Content marketing, when done correctly, is a powerful tool that does much more than just seduce customers to your website: it answers their questions, just like a customer service rep would.

By having posted content show “suggestions” of what life could be like when the brand’s products are used in proper contexts, it boosted sales, spread awareness, increased return rates, and brought in more than just one time sales, but a lifetime of sales per customer. All because of the brand’s offering of more than just products.

Promoting your brand through content marketing is more effective advertising because rather than telling why your brand should be chosen by your customers, it shows it. Traditional advertisement is a snapshot of why your brand might be the best, and can be a hit or miss due to its condensed nature. Content marketing, however, tells of your brands potential to enrich customer’s lives in entertaining, captivating, and unignorable detail by showing. It’s not about who can have a better sales pitch, but how you can show that your brand can actually enrich customer’s lives and put them first.