Universal business truth: Without a prospect, you don’t have a future
My 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:
- You chase, hunt down, and look for a prospect = hard way
- 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
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