Reprinted from my blog on the American Tapestry Alliance website, Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017
Elena Zuyok shares her knowledge about content marketing. What is it, how to implement a content marketing plan, and more.
Create, Share & Spread the Word: Content Marketing for Tapestry Weavers and Teachers
A guest post by Elena Zuyok
What is Content Marketing?
Whether you’re a tapestry weaver looking to sell your work or a weaving teacher searching for students, content marketing is a modern marketing concept that’s useful to understand and implement as part of your promotional efforts.
Not long ago, most marketing campaigns fell under what marketers now call outbound marketing. In an outbound marketing campaign a marketer would send out information to a group of people and hope that some of those people would become interested in the product. Let’s say I sell cars. I might send out brochures to people in the area showing them what I have for sale, or maybe I’d take out an advertisement in the local newspaper or on television telling people what great cars I have and why they should buy from me rather than my competitors. Some of the people who were exposed to these marketing efforts might be looking for a car and would stop in to see what I have to offer.
This method has one main problem: people don’t like being advertised to, especially those who aren’t the target audience of an advertisement. People who aren’t looking for a car don’t care that your cars are cheaper or more fuel efficient than the competition and you’re likely wasting your advertising dollars putting your message in front of them. People have also become more savvy at ignoring sales messages. We fast-forward through television ads, throw away junk mail and install ad-blockers on our browsers.
The idea of content, or inbound marketing, is the opposite of this traditional technique. Instead of sending out information about your business and hoping you connect with the right people, you attract the right people to you by creating content that is useful and interesting to your prospective audience. With content marketing, you bring your customers to you not by shouting that your price is lower or your product is better, but by giving them something they want or need for free.
Content marketing has two parts.
The first is creating quality content to get people to pay attention to you and your business. This could be informative ebooks or blog posts or simply content that tells an interesting and entertaining story.
The second is to give that information away in order to establish trust and increase your business’ perceived value. An increase in perceived value typically results in a bump in sales and/or a general rise in visibility.
Why does giving away your content help you? Partly it is because of the psychological principle of reciprocity. This says that when someone receives something from someone for free, they have a tendency to want to give something back in return.
When you give something away and don’t ask for anything in return, potential customers will begin to develop loyalty, which will encourage them to make a purchase or become more involved with you/your business in another way, like by following you on social media, sharing content or images of yours or simply signing up for your newsletter.
Content marketing may be a strategy you’re already implementing. If you’ve written a blog post teaching people about a tapestry technique or have shared images of your work on social media, you’re well on your way to understanding how best to connect with your audience, build trust and sell your wares.
Creating & Implementing a Content Marketing Plan
When deciding what content to give away, first think about who your target audience is. This audience isn’t just your customers, it’s also people who can give you exposure. There may be a lot of people out there who love to see pictures of your work and to learn about how you made it but who could never afford to buy a piece from you or aren’t interested in taking a class. Those people are still important to you and worth making loyal followers because they may share content you have created (blog posts, images on social media, ebooks etc.) and that could be exactly what gets you customers. Word of mouth will always be important to any artist or business.
It can be helpful to come up with personas when trying to understand your audience. These are basically caricatures of your audience that help to remind you of whom you are targeting. Let’s go back to my car salesman analogy. Let’s say my dealership just sells hybrid and electric cars. I know my customers fall into three groups. There’s Family Fran. She’s looking for a fuel-efficient car for her family that will save her money on gas. Then there’s Cool Carl. He wants an electric car because it’s en vogue. There’s also Environmental Ellie. She wants to do everything she can to help save the planet, including buying the right car. Imagining these personas can help me target my content to the right people. They can also help me further break down my marketing. If I can identify that John Smith is a “Cool Carl”, I can try to make sure he’s getting the right content shown to him.
Once you’ve determined who your audience is, it’s time to craft your content. You want to craft a story with your marketing content to begin to build an emotional connection with your audience. Begin to fashion your social presence. Join social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram and start a blog. Share pictures of your work, your process and techniques. Good images are important. So are how-tos, especially if you are a teacher.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re a tapestry teacher looking for students. You decide to make a video of yourself teaching a technique. It may seem counter-intuitive to give away that information, information that you’d normally teach in a class that you’d get paid for, but in the long run it’s building an audience and creating an environment where reciprocity is effortless. Few students will decide not to take a class from you simply because you’ve given them a taste of your teaching. Instead, they’ll be more likely to take a class after sampling what you can do.
Here are a few ideas of content you can give away as a tapestry weaver or teacher:
-Project or technique how-tos in the form of videos, ebooks or blog posts.
-High-quality images of your work.
-Project ideas for aspiring weavers.
-Stories about your work, your inspiration and/or your classes. People love to feel like they know you and to peek inside your life.
Always remember: You don’t want your content to look like advertising. You are looking to give away information that is genuinely helpful to your audience. It needs to be valuable to them for this to work.
Once you’ve figured out who your audience is and what types of content you will create, you want to come up with a plan to decide where and how often you create and share your content. It’s helpful to make a spreadsheet to help keep you on track. Start with something reasonable: maybe one blog post a week, an Instagram post a day, an ebook a month. And then: persist. Content marketing takes time to work. Be consistent and don’t get discouraged.
Content Marketing as a Creator
Content marketing is all about creativity, which makes it a great strategy for artists. Think of it simply as creating, not as selling, and let your personality shine through so you can best connect with your audience. Take your skills as an artist and put them to work crafting your online presence and the content you will use to attract the right customers. Your job as an inbound marketer is to make yourself visible, likable and interesting. This will help you grow a loyal audience who want to consume, and share, the content you are creating.
Elena Zuyok co-runs Mirrix Tapestry & Bead Looms. She lives in Seattle, WA and has a BA in Communication from the University of New Hampshire and an MA in Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington. While she works at Mirrix full-time, she is passionate about mentoring artists on the subject of marketing. Feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit the Mirrix Looms website at www.mirrixlooms.com and see posts by Elena on the Mirrix blog http://blog.mirrixlooms.