Creating valuable, education based content is half the ticket to selling these days. The other half, of course, is getting that content read and in the hands of prospects.
Writing a blog, hosting content on your website and spreading the word on you social networks are all great places to start, but another great way to use and amplify content is to attract partners that you can share content with and help you turn that content into referrals.
Below is a list of five ways to start thinking about doing just that.
1) Guest post – It used to be that writing articles and publishing them to article directories was sound advice. It’s still not a bad way to get some exposure, but writing as a guest author for blogs read by your prospective market is a far stronger play these days. Blogs generally have a following developed by the publisher and therefor an audience that comes back and reads or content that search engines find highly indexable.
By approaching blogs that seem to have the kind of topics and readers relevant to your market and offering up valuable content you can potentially borrow the trust, also known as being referred, built by that blogger to gain added exposure to your message or expertise.
A couple of thoughts on finding blogs. Use search tools like Bloglines or Placeblogger to find related or local bloggers. While it would be great to get a guest post on the highest traffic blogs you might want to focus on blogs that are smaller and perhaps in the end, more relevant to your subject. Scan past posts to see if they appear to want guest posts and offer up original content either in the form of a full post or by way of an email outlining what you could write about. Make sure you add very brief contact information, but don’t sell in the post.
2) Host a group – Social networking platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Slideshare and Flickr all allow members to create groups. A group can be gathered around a single niche topic or even a location. By forming a group around content, community events or how to do something specific, you have the opportunity to create a place where prospects and partners might want to gather and refer others.
The key to this play is that the group needs to be all about something valuable, a what’s in it for the members only approach, or it won’t garner any attention. You don’t have to think strictly in terms of a group topic that is related to your business either. If you are trying to attract locals, a group that appeals to locals might be a group way to turn content into referrals. This Boston Networking Group on LinkedIn was founded by Jeff Popin, owner of BostonEventGuide.com. With over 3,000 members, there’s a pretty good bet this group serves as a conduit for Popin’s main business locally.
3) Bring a friend – People love free content events such as workshops and webinars. They are great ways to deliver content and great ways for people looking for information to learn from an expert. One way to build audience and generate referrals is to create “bring a friend” events. The idea here is that you can come for free, but you must bring a friend as the price of admission. You can automate the process of sign-up using tools like MeetUp or Eventbrite.
Bring a friend is a great way to expand your referral base and, as long as we’ve got the audience, make a referral oriented offer to all in attendance. If you sell a product or service make them a two for one deal today only. They get to buy today’s incredible program and get a second one free to give a friend.
4) Offer content co-branding – You’ve worked and slaved over the perfect white paper, “how to” series of articles, or video tutorials and people seem to really like them. Why not take that content to potential strategic partners (really any non-competing business that also targets your same ideal customer) and offer to let them use it. Most businesses these days realize they should be producing content like this, but hey, who has the time. Then you show up with a great little package of information all ready to go and you even let them put there logo and contact information inside when they offer it up their prospects, customers and network.
This is a great way to get in front of very large audiences as a referral. Making it very easy for people to do something they know they should is a great way to get the attention of a potential big referral fish.
5) Create an event – This one is pretty closely related to the last two, but once you’ve created a workshop or seminar, you can always take it to potential strategic partners and offer to provide it at no cost to their customer base (you get referred as the expert) – of course, don’t forget to tell them about the bring a friend approach.
To amp this approach up even more round-up four or five of the partners that you worked with in number four above and come up with an entire day or half day of great topics that your target market will find irresistible. Then each of you promote the event to your customer and prospect bases (bring a friend) and fill up the event. You can do this for free or low cost, but the goal is to get exposure and referrals from your partners while providing content that can be re-purposed in any number of ways. You can do this online off and don’t forget to record so you can use the archives in new ways too!