I’d like to introduce myself as the new ‘Social Business’ columnist of Contracting Business.com’s HVAC-Talk.com newsletter. Joe Pulizzi has written this column in the past, and I’m thrilled to be taking over for one of content marketing’s most trusted thought leaders.
I know what you’re thinking, “But I liked Joe! He column was always one of my favorites!” I like Joe too, and like any content marketing professional, I’ve learned a lot from his columns and content over the years and hope to build on the foundations he’s already created with Contracting Business.com.
So, why am I writing this column?
I’m the Director of Content Marketing for a marketing agency in Atlanta, GA, called DigitalSherpa. In late July, DigitalSherpa acquired SocialTract (Joe's company). This made sense for us as a company because our product offerings were strikingly similar, and because DigitalSherpa is familiar with developing a content solution for a specific vertical of business.
DigitalSherpa is a subsidiary of Network Communications Inc., the company responsible for publishing Apartment Finder as well as home and design magazines all over the country. As of this writing, NCI is the largest national publisher of printed or online magazines for the multi-family, real estate, and home design & improvement markets.
In 2009, NCI began DigitalSherpa to provide an Internet marketing solution to its advertisers as well as to small business owners nationwide. Now in 2012, DigitalSherpa has launched over 2,000 Internet marketing programs for businesses of all varieties.
What made DigitalSherpa such a great fit with the HVAC world was our wealth of experience writing about homes and apartments, from a building, design, or service perspective.
My job is to develop the right strategies and outcomes for the content DigitalSherpa publishes to the Web. It’s a difficult task because consumers are picky, as they should be. The Web is populated with so much useful and awesome content that consumers will now only give their hard earned time and money to the most remarkable of the bunch.
There’s a misconception with businesses that creating remarkable content means you have to spend lots of money developing Hollywood-quality videos or page-long comics and infographics. The real secret to developing remarkable content is understanding what your customers and prospects actually need.
What does this mean? For me, it means start asking questions.
As a content professional, here are three questions I’d ask a HVAC customer or prospect that I believe would yield months worth of helpful and remarkable content for an HVAC business:
1. What’s most important to you when searching for an HVAC professional?
2. What’s something you don’t understand about HVAC that you wish you did?
3. Given your experience with HVAC professionals, what’s a suggestion you would give that would help the customer?
As business owners or marketing professionals, it’s easy to forget that the content we develop and share on the Web isn’t meant for us. It’s very easy to go on technical diatribes (which the customers won’t understand) or share content that might be interesting to others in the HVAC industry (which your customers don’t work in).
When you're creating content for your website, social network, or e-mail blast that is customer-facing, the most important question to ask before hitting send or publish is always: Is this content helpful to the customer?
In the next newsletter, I’ll start to debunk some myths about social media for business, and we’ll start talking about how you should really be using your Facebook brand page.
Chris Vaughn is the Content Marketing Director for DigitalSherpa, the world's largest content marketing provider for small businesses. With the recent acquisition of SocialTract, DigitalSherpa is thrilled to welcome the HVAC community in to our client family. Learn more about content marketing and check out our free e-books and whitepapers at http://digitalsherpa.com. Connect with Chris and the DigitalSherpa team on Facebook and Twitter or e-mail Chris directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.