By Scott Aughtmon published June 25, 2013

5 Types of Content Marketing to Continuously Attract Prospects

Universal business truth: Without a prospect, you don’t have a future

magnetic content-attract propsectsMy wife and I started watching a new show on History Channel’s H2 network. It’s called, America’s Secret Slang.

Each episode features the origin of commonly used phrases in our country. It’s a really interesting and fun way to learn where some of the words we use every day came from.

On one episode, the origin of the word “prospect” was discussed. It originally meant “future,” as in “how your future will be.” During the gold rush days, the word came to mean that a particular piece of land had a future — it had potential.

As time went on, people who could potentially become customers became known as prospects, because they are a potential source of future income.

What all businesses need to understand is that if you don’t have new prospects, you don’t have a future.

Two ways to get prospects

There are two ways to get prospects: the hard way and the easy way. Here’s how to distinguish them:

  1. You chase, hunt down, and look for a prospect = hard way
  2. They chase, hunt down, and look for you = easy way

Which way would you prefer? Like you, I’d prefer  No. 2 anytime!

Well, what I’ve realized is that the people who excel in their industry have learned how to make “the easy way” happen over and over, so they continuously have new prospects coming to them. They aren’t cold-calling, or swatting the bushes for leads.

And do you know what tool they use to do this automatically? That’s right: content marketing.

How the pros use content marketing to attract an unending stream of prospects

They have learned to do something extremely powerful. They have learned to create “magnetic content” and they have learned “hungry crowd with money.”

Of course the first, and most challenging, step is to create content that’s magnetic; i.e., content that people will be attracted to and want to share with others. Without this, no other advice I could share will matter.

While, the scope of this post isn’t to teach you how to create magnetic content (the whole CMI site, including my post on 21 Types of Content We Crave, is available for this purpose), what I will say is that magnetic content must have a unique perspective or a unique personality behind it (preferably both). There is too much, generic, “me-too” content already out there for you to spend time creating anything less.

But what I really want to show you today are the types of content the experts use to continually get, and keep, their content in front of the hungry crowds that are comprised of potential prospects.

5 types of content that experts rely on to attract prospects

Let’s use CMI’s own Joe Pulizzi as an example. If you go to JoePulizzi.com, right on the first page he reveals the types of content he delivers to draw audience interest:

1. Informational and educational resources: Among his credentials, Joe founded the Content Marketing InstituteContent Marketing World, and Chief Content Officer magazine.

This is very powerful. When audiences learn Joe founded these resources to serve customer needs, his credibility is instantly established. It positions Joe as an authority, and that attracts additional prospects. Moreover, each of the resources he links to on his site becomes a “place” to send people to so they can get another “taste” of Joe’s content and discover more of the information and advice that Joe can provide.

Questions to ask: What resource can you establish that can help the prospects you are trying to reach? Is there a person or group you can partner with who is already doing this?

A baby step you can take: Establish a simple website with curated content that your prospects need. Include an excerpt, and then link to the original content. You can curate articles, blog posts, infographics, interviews, and more, along with some of your own perspective to establish your own insight on the topic.

2. Books: Joe has already published two books on content marketing — Get Content, Get Customers and Managing Content Marketing. And this September, his new book, Epic Content Marketing will hit the shelves.

Books are one of the most common forms of magnetic content, and top experts in every field have used them to attract new prospects. It is a way for businesses to be “discovered” by prospects while they are searching the aisle, or Amazon, for help. Once they discover an author’s book, a certain percentage will likely become fans, and a certain percentage of those fans will likely become prospects who seek that author out to explore the possibilities of becoming a customer.

Questions to ask: What relevant business topics could you write a book on? Or, who could you hire to write a book for you?

A baby step you can take: Self-publish an eBook that offers advice and assistance to the audience you’re trying to reach. An easy strategy to accomplish this is to interview experts and compile their answers — this way, the eBook practically writes itself!

3. Public speaking opportunities: Joe’s website reveals that he continually travels throughout North America and Europe to speak to marketers and business owners. Do you see how important that is? Through each speaking engagement, he gains an ongoing opportunity to be positioned as an expert in his field and, thus, be introduced to prospects. And the best part about this strategy is that (most of the time) he is being paid to gain visibility with potential customers.

Public speaking is a huge key to attracting prospects that you shouldn’t miss out on. It’s how experts get other business networks and communities to continually share their prospects with them, which keeps their sales funnels spinning. You don’t necessarily have to start at the top, either — there are plenty of lower-tier forums where you can speak to prospects and work your way up the chain of industry events.

Questions to ask: What kind of speech can I give that the prospects I am trying to reach would be attracted to? What do they need, and want, to hear?

A baby step you can take: Find smaller, local organizations and events that need speakers, and perfect your craft in that setting. If public speaking isn’t your forté, consider sponsoring a speaker to deliver relevant presentations on your business’ behalf.

4. Media interviews: Joe’s site also reveals that he has been featured in leading marketing publications and blogs around the world, including AdWeek, Fast Company, BtoB Magazine and the HubSpot blog. Remember: Every publication has an ongoing need to deliver more content to its readers! And once you’ve begun to create magnetic content, it becomes easier to approach relevant media outlets about interviewing opportunities.

Questions to ask: What publications do my prospects read? Have I seen interviews in those publications?

A baby step you can take: As with public speaking engagements, it helps to start by approaching smaller, local publications and working your way up to more prominent media outlets. Having interviews published in other publications will increase your visibility with larger publications, which could lead to offers to profile you and your business.

5. Guest posting and article contribution: Joe hasn’t just been interviewed in publications like the ones mentioned above; he often writes his own articles for them to publish, as well. For example, Joe wrote an article for Copyblogger on 3 Components of a Content Marketing Editorial Calendar that Works. If you’ve established yourself as a thought leader who creates magnetic content related to your industry, many publications will welcome the opportunity to run an original article in which you share your insight with their readers.

Questions to ask: Who are the contact people at your prospects’ favorite industry publications and blogs? What topics do they usually cover? What topic could you write that fits their needs, and your prospects’ interests?

A baby step you can take: Again, start with smaller or niche publications, and work your way up the chain.

The wisdom of loggers

I once read something that I found very interesting: For every tree that loggers cut down these days, they plant four seedlings. Because of this practice, there are more trees now than there were in 1920.

If you think about it, this is a very smart practice, because without new trees, loggers have no future.

When many businesses start out, they need clients, so they focus on doing everything they can to get prospects. They do this regularly and religiously until customers actually start showing up. But once they start showing up, something interesting happens: They stop focusing on getting prospects (or lessen that focus) and begin to concentrate on servicing the customers they’ve attracted.

Obviously, businesses need to focus on their clients, and no one would ever tell you that this isn’t a priority. But what eventually happens if you forsake your prospecting efforts to focus exclusively on your current customers?

That’s right. You’ll end up like loggers who don’t invest in seeding their future.

If you want to have a future in your industry, you must continuously bring in new prospects. And if you don’t want to have to do it the hard way, you must learn to use the five types of content experts use to attract prospects. Get started on at least one of them today.

For more tips on how to use content marketing to attract new business prospects, register to attend Content Marketing World 2013, September 9–11, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Cover image via Bigstock

Author: Scott Aughtmon

Scott Aughtmon is a business strategist, a “business recession solution expert,” and a speaker. He’s spent over 12 years studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline). He’s the author of two eBooks called “How Your Business Can Survive And Prosper In A Recession” in which he interviewed 38 top business, marketing and sales experts and got them to reveal their methods to help business owners survive and prosper in a recession. Scott has also been interviewed on radio shows and asked to share his wisdom to help business owners survive and prosper in a recession. He has a unique perspective and ability to communicate ideas and concepts in a way that can help you climb to new heights. Read more of Scott's insights on his blog. Follow Scott on Twitter @rampbusinesses.

Other posts by Scott Aughtmon

  • Wes Ward

    Excellent Scott. Creating authority with magnetic content but more importantly leveraging other people’s audience is the key to business growth. I like the loggers analogy

    • Scott Aughtmon

      Thanks, Wes.

  • http://www.ryanmickley.com Ryan Mickley

    Although the entirety of this post is helpful, the “wisdom from loggers” section made a profound impact on me. What an incredible principle to apply to servant leadership practices. Thank you Scott. Helpful and inspiring.

    • Scott Aughtmon

      Thanks, Ryan. Yeah, I really like that section too. I like your application of it to servant leadership too. Take care.

  • Mark, the WebinaROI Guy

    Scott, don’t forget webinars. They’re a great alternative / compliment to live speaking engagements.

    • Scott Aughtmon

      That’s true, Mark!

  • Judy Murdoch

    It’s fascinating to me that so many business owners don’t get this.

    I think it takes a certain amount of faith and patience to cultivate relationships offering consistent, repeated content over time. There is a lag between sending out newsletters, blog posts, and other types of content and response and I think for some, it’s easier and more reassuring to just go out there and hustle for business.

    So although I agree with Scott that sitting back and letting business come to me is the easier way (I’m a strategist by nature), I also know how uncomfortable that waiting for the seeds I’ve planted to start bearing fruit can be.

    Doesn’t hurt to hunt a little while you’re waiting for those tomatoes and zucchini to show up.

    Judy Murdoch

    • Scott Aughtmon

      You’re right, Judy. Sometimes we DO need to hunt while we wait!

  • pamellaneely

    I love the wisdom of loggers. Hadn’t heard that in too long. I like it better than “dig your well before you’re thirsty” because the reality is that many prospects don’t pan out, or they reveal themselves to be clients you may not want. So by “planting” four prospects, the odds are good that at least one of the four seedlings will end up being the kind of client I genuinely want to answer the phone for.

    The other part of this that I’m grappling with is that my hourly rate has to reflect this prospect building (or platform building) work. Between writing books, blog posts and doing webinars and speaking engagements, I’m spending 10-15 hours a week building my content marketing to attract prospects. I need to get paid for that time, and so my “hourly” rate needs to be big enough cover the costs in time that it took me to build and maintain the platform that generated the client. Fortunately, as the platform building content gains more and more attention, people are more and more willing to pay me enough to do okay. As Judy mentioned, it can take quite a bit of work and at least some time to get the wheel rolling.

    • Scott Aughtmon

      Hi Pamella. I totally understand. I didn’t mean to imply that everyone should immediately stop going after prospects, follow the above 5 steps, and wait. That would not be a smart or realistic thing to do. My point is that like those loggers we need to plant these 5 seedlings and work as we wait for them to grow into “prospect-bearing” trees. The key is to make sure we are doing the 5 above things WHILE we are currently working to get prospects. Otherwise our work chasing after prospects will never lessen or stop.

  • http://acooze.co/ Cameron Upshall

    Love the loggers story. Great article, thanks for sharing.

    • Scott Aughtmon

      Thanks, Cameron.

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  • Peachy Seguis

    “2 ways to get a prospect- the hard way and the easy way.”

    I really injected it to my mind after reading the whole stuff here. Thanks for sharing Scott. I’m gonna use this at Sheridan Beach Resort and Spa.

  • http://www.onfiremediaonline.com/ ‘TC’ Teresa Clark

    Hey Scott,

    I really like that you offered ways to gain prospects, such as books or media interviews. I have never thought of going that direction. Here are a few things that I do to create content to draw in prospects the easy way.

    I create content that comes from the people that know the most about why someone buys, the customer. Consumers are a vital source when creating content to help improve your business’ success. Not only will they share stories about their experience with you, they will also have quirky antidotes that can help boost the morale and performance of your business.

    Thanks for the article,

    T.C.

  • Peter Kortvel

    Hi, try out this infograpic with 29 content types, you can print it out for your daily work too: http://www.marketerscoffeetime.blogspot.com/2013/07/29-types-of-marketing-content-marketers.html