Bill’s proud of the fine cheese his family has made for the last three generations. His cows are milked twice a day to produce cheese that’s sold locally. But sales are dismal and there seemed no hope for 4th generation succession.
He told me his story as I tasted a variety of cheese in the shop front of his dairy. No one else was there. He could sell a lot more cheese but didn’t know any other way apart from door sales, local, and occasional wholesale.
The copyright at the bottom of the website told a story without a word being uttered – Copyright 2007. Yes, a social media presence is important and a Facebook page was created last year. But sales have not increased and after the initial flurry of likes from friends and people that visit the dairy, the Facebook page fizzled – it obviously doesn’t work.
Cynthia, Bill’s 21-year-old daughter, has just come back from a year in France. She completed an internship at MonS-Fromager, the supplier to some of the greatest restaurants throughout the world in high-quality cheese. Her love and knowledge of cheese will pave the way for the business to be 4th generation.
But Bill is at a loss. He can’t see the business being able to support another generation and maybe not even the current one. Growth in sales is negligible and this is his problem. Although exhausted, sleep is beyond him most nights, until early morning when it’s almost time to wake and supervise the cow milking.
He offers me a different style of cheese to taste. It’s now my turn to talk and I offer some obvious upbeat points. The family business:
- Has acquired invaluable knowledge from generations of cheese production.
- Can anticipate every question a customer or wholesaler could possibly ask.
- Has the ability to produce different cheese styles and tastes depending on demand.
- Has Cynthia, with her internationally recognized internship from MonS-Fromager.
A nodding head agrees, but the facial expression says “so what?”
I urge him to imagine the cheese produced from the milk of his cows being consumed internationally in the fine eateries serving wine and cheese after dinner. I continue by saying that his cheese is internationally known, enjoyed and recognized for its fine quality.
With arms crossed, Bill’s disbelief is obvious. Actually, it’s worse than that and only softens when I mention that Cynthia would be instrumental in an online content marketing strategy that would transform the family cheese dairy.
The marketing process would begin by writing and answering all the questions that customers have asked over the many years. Cynthia is ideal to write these short articles, or blog posts, as she knows all aspects of cheese production which is further supported by the knowledge obtained from her internship at MonS-Fromager. Her articles would be the content that creates global awareness and sales.
Bill leans forward and I explain a 7 stage process of content marketing that will give him the benefit of increased sales and international recognition.
1. Content is the Cornerstone
As simple as it may be, Bill’s potential customers search the Internet to seek answers to questions and problems they have about cheese.
As specifically as possible, it will be Cynthia who will answer their questions and concerns in the blog posts she writes. Every possible question will be addressed, and these are the same questions the family has been answering for decades.
An unknown asset is indeed Cynthia. Her articles and posts will exude enthusiasm, knowledge, and empathy given her background and recent internship. She’s the “real deal”. She has authenticity and in time she’ll earn authority.
But importantly, no matter how brilliant the content, it has to be found among some 1 billion websites. I detect a slump in Bill’s shoulders and quickly start with addressing the website which will ultimately be responsible for Cynthia’s content being distributed.
2. New Mobile Responsive Website
A small fortune was invested 7 years ago to create a website that’s now obsolete. A new inexpensive website is required that has the following:
- A WordPress site powered by the Genesis Framework.
- A Genesis theme that is mobile responsive for viewing on any device.
- Blog to publish Cynthia’s posts, thereby enabling them to be shared on Social Media.
- Subscribe box for free blog updates.
- A Members area that is free to join and ensures Members receive news of impending new releases of cheese at a discount, special reports, and webinars.
The Members area demonstrates a level of trust by your customer and potential customer, for them to give you their email address.
Bill needs an explanation and again I ask him to imagine someone stumbling across one of Cynthia’s articles through social media or search. They probably don’t know Cynthia, so they’re at the outer level of knowing, liking and trusting someone to buy from. The strategy is to draw them closer by inviting them to opt-in for free Membership to the site to start the process of knowing and liking.
To encourage them to become a Member, they’ll receive a free special report on cheese production on signing up. They can also be assured of receiving other special reports, discounted offers on new cheese releases and occasional Google+ Hangouts with Cynthia on various topics.
But the kicker is when it’s time to make an offer to Members, whatever that may be, they don’t need to be sold too – they want to buy from her. Cynthia’s content and the like, know, and trust factor has already done 90% of the selling.
3. Social Media Presence
Bill reminds me he has this covered with a Facebook page. I remind him that his cheese is on a journey to the finest restaurants and that requires an agile strategy that considers all aspects of content marketing.
Facebook is just one of four major social media platforms, the others being Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. It’s Google+ that’s important, not just because of Google search, or that it’s more topic orientated, but because it recognizes the author.
Cynthia will be recognized by Google as the author of the posts she has written, once her Google+ profile and a Google+ page for the dairy has been set up. Every time she writes a post and shares onto Google+, it will have its own unique identity which may then be indexed by Google.
Better still, if it’s indexed, it will contain a thumbnail photo of Cynthia alongside the summary of her post, thereby increasing the likelihood of being clicked on and driving traffic back to the website.
A little lost, maybe, but Bill certainly gets the next point. Because Cynthia’s high-quality content answers the concerns and issues of potential customers, it is likely it will be shared by them. The more it is shared, the more Google will consider it to be important.
Spinning back to the other 3 platforms, two are discounted immediately. Firstly, LinkedIn is mainly for professionals rather than consumers. Secondly, Facebook doesn’t have consistency with policy on business pages, with owners now having to pay for them to appear.
Twitter, with its 140 characters no-nonsense delivery is ideal for promoting new blog posts and “corralling”, to use a cow term, an audience of people and influencers interested in cheese.
Ultimately the 2 social media networks, being Google+ and Twitter, will be used for distributing the content created by Cynthia.
4. How to Get Noticed on Social Media
Bill leans forward and his arms aren’t folded. But even he knows getting attention online is next to impossible. Yet there is a glimmer of hope in his eyes and I explain a two-step process.
The first part is getting noticed by influencers and bloggers, achieved by identifying, following, and appropriately engaging them. However, there is a fine line between a shrinking violet and a stalker, and Cynthia must take the middle ground.
That involves constructive commentary and sharing what they tweet or post. In short time she’ll get known and respected for her insightful comments and in particular, gratitude for the sharing of their content. On that alone she will be followed – she’ll be known and liked.
The second part of getting attention is Cynthia posting her own content and people following her because of her compelling content. This is the beginning of building her audience. They like what she writes as it addresses them and their concerns and questions. She seems able to nail it every time for them. They feel part of the team and indeed evangelize the dairy brand and products. Cynthia’s audience will grow and keep growing.
5. The Audience is Growing and Listening
It’s refreshing. Cynthia’s content is a breath of fresh air. Her posts stimulate commentary, are shared, plussed and liked. People subscribe to get blog updates and opt-in to free Membership of the site. They are also eager to learn the release date of a new style of cheese. All along, Cynthia has been updating Members of how proud the dairy is of the current cheese nearing the end of its maturity.
Her content and the strong social signals of endorsement is exactly what Google wants. With her Google+ authorship and photo next to the summary of each post, Cynthia’s posts start to rank well in search. She is now not only known and liked, she’s also becoming trusted.
6. From Great Content and Search Results Comes Authority
Momentum is strong. Growing rapidly are the audience numbers on social media, the sharing of her content and people visiting the website. Importantly, site Membership has increased dramatically.
Cynthia is offered guest blogging spots on respected sites which further enhance her profile and traffic back to the website. There’s also crossover blogging with the wine industry. She starts blogging about different cheese making styles and the aging of cheese that draws deeply on her internship at MonS-Fromager. She has become very well-known, liked, and respected.
Cynthia is an Authority.
Simultaneously, reviews of the cheese produced by the dairy have been excellent.
Bill, staring in disbelief, is gobsmacked.
7. The Cheese is Sold
The sales process mainly has its origins from the Membership list, for amongst them are wholesalers, restaurateurs, owners and buyers for all types of eateries.
A week prior to the release date, Members receive an email with links to glowing reviews of the cheese and advises them to keep a look out in their inbox for the actual release. When it arrives, they’re able to purchase the cheese at a discount for a one week period or until sold out. The email, short and to the point, takes the Member to a Landing Page to specify the quantity and make the purchase.
Bill’s cheese is no longer local – it’s global and it’s in demand. The opportunities for the dairy are limitless.
Successful Content Marketing is a strategy as shown in the article above. It’s an agile ongoing process. It’s a long game that has great rewards and opportunities.