Is a video worth 1,000 decorated-apparel orders? Jonathan Ornelas, owner of Success Print Shop, thinks so. On the regular, he shoots short videos of his screen-printing process and posts them to Facebook and Instagram to connect with customers and prospects.
“We show how we decorate t-shirts, and that we’re experts,” Ornelas says. “Our customers can also see that we love what we do and have a lot of fun.” For example, he plays his team’s favorite music in his videos, like Vistas’ song “Like an American.”
As a result of the pandemic, 7 in 10 (69%) CMOs asked their staff to get more active online to promote their company and what it offers. And it makes total sense: Half of U.S. consumers say they’ve spent more time taking in online content this year, according to Media Frenzy Global. Buyers are also looking to brands for inspiration. That means many companies are making their messaging and content strategy their highest brand-related priority. Are you?
The most important component of your shop’s messaging is to be human first, according to Marshall Atkinson, a decorated-apparel business coach. “These days, the most human company wins,” he says. “Are you showing your vulnerability? Emotions? Victories? Defeats? People respond to other people, so inject some personality into your marketing. We all like smiling faces.”
The great news is that It’s not too late to kick your content strategy into high gear for 2020. Here are five ways to dive right in.
1. Get Clear on Your Content Strategy.
Patrick Black’s number one content goal is simple: showing customers how his company, Perfect Imprints, can help them stand out from competitors, using branded merch.
“Our content approach is a long-term game vs. the short-term approach of playing into fears around COVID-19,” Black says. “Right now, we’re focused on helping our clients get through this time of reduced staff and sales, while keeping our eye on their long-term goals.” One example of this, is how he used their blog to communicate directly with customers on how they’re ready to help carry the marketing load for them, during these difficult times.
“Our new menu of services will be full of options to help small to mid-size businesses drive more traffic to their stores and websites. We will focus on your marketing efforts while you focus on developing those relationships and creating great shopping experiences for your customers,” Black said in a recent post.
Analytics plays a huge role in Black’s content strategy. He looks at where his buyers are based, the verticals he sells into, and the popularity of keywords vs. the sales of products related to those keywords. “We also look at current trends, challenges and seasonal events to create evergreen content that people love,” he says.
And, looking to the future, Black’s view is line with many other companies: 1 in 10 (13%) marketers believe COVID-19 has permanently changed branding, but a larger number—6 in 10 (57%)—feel the disruption from COVID-19 will have a lasting impact, but won’t be transformative. “We know this is a temporary season and we’ll get back to business as normal,” he says. “Right now, we’re seeing a continual upward trajectory in our sales.”
2. Videos Reign Supreme.
This year, video has overtaken blogs and infographics as the most commonly used type of content marketing, overtaking blogs and infographics. These stats show why: 87% of video marketers say video has increased traffic to their website and 80% report that video directly increased their sales, according to Wyzowl.
Promo videos and brand storytelling lead the charge in terms of the most-watched videos. For example, at Success Print Shop, Ornelas uses video as their media of choice. “That’s why we have a ton of videos on Facebook and Instagram,” he says. “The underlying message? People hiring us get a screen-printing team that loves what they do, not a printer who sees customers as another hassle to deal with.”
Black also views his videos as an educational and trust-building portion of his shop’s content strategy. “Our Instagram videos show products in-depth to help clients find the right item for their marketing campaign,” Black says.
If you’re new to videos, get a crash course (and lots of encouragement) from our blog, “5 Winning Video Strategies Every Screen Printer Should Use.”
3. Put Blogs on Top.
Blogs are among the top three types of media used in content strategies today. In fact, 73% of consumers skim blogs and 27% read every word. And if you like to write, you’re in luck: blogs longer than 3,000 words get 3 times more traffic, 4 times more shares and 3.5 more backlinks than shorter articles, according to SEMrush. However, if you’re short on time, 51% of companies say updating old content has been their most effective tactic.
Perfect Imprints’ blogs drive more than 60% of the firm’s online sales. “We create blogs based on topics we know are useful and helpful for our clients and prospects,” Black says. “Nearly all of our blogs educate our clients about a specific topic to show them how to use promo merch to grow and strengthen their business.”
Perfect Imprints’ blogs answers clients’ timely, relevant questions, like what promos work best during this work-from-home year. For example, one article focused on earbuds as employee appreciation gifts. To promote its social media management services, Black’s team publishes social media 101 blogs to educate their audience.
If you’re new to blogging or need fresh topics, Atkinson advises starting with your FAQs. “Create content for each question and make them searchable,” he says. “For more advanced folks, create blogs that solve your customers’ current and upcoming problems. Give those answers out like candy.”
Always do research before writing a blog. “Are your competitors showing up in your topic search?” says Melanie Münstermann, an embroiderer and printer based in Germany. “If yes, what keywords are they using? Have they included a video or an ebook to download? To outrank them, you need to include those items at a minimum.”
In addition, Münstermann writes her blog articles with these questions in mind:What’s happening in my customers’ lives before they start to research my products? What’s important to them? What happens after they purchase?
4. Testimonials Are Major Selling Tools.
It’s a no brainer: Buyers are more likely to trust recommendations from friends, family and social media influencers over a brand’s marketing, especially during the pandemic, according to a recent Matter survey.
“It’s time to turn your customers into influencers,” Atkinson says. “What would happen if hordes of your customers recommended you? So, ask yourself, am I giving my customers reasons to promote me? When was the last time I surprised and delighted them?”
At Perfect Imprints, Black loves working with repeat clients and helping them grow their businesses—which turn into glowing testimonials. “Testimonials are great to insert into marketing emails,” Black says. “Screenshot your Google reviews and paste them into your emails.”
Ornelas makes it a rule to ask customers for a review or testimonial after completing every order. “That actually helps them realize how good we are, so they order again,” he says. “And of course, I point prospects to our stacks of great reviews on Google and Facebook, so they’re comfortable moving forward with Success Print Shop.”
Atkinson advises shop owners to ask clients for both written and video testimonials. “Get them so excited about sharing their thoughts that they film themselves talking about or using the product,” he says. “You can also turn these into longer case studies that show how you helped them achieve their marketing goals.”
5. Get Social or Go Home.
Now that you’re creating all this great content, are you getting it out there on Facebook and Instagram? Nothing kills your content plan faster than not having a clear, overall social media strategy.
The content on your social media channels should support whatever goal you’re trying to achieve. “Is your goal to drive more visitors to your website?” Atkinson says. “Build your brand awareness? Get people to schedule an appointment and ramp up your lead generation? Buy something from your online store?”
Don’t post random “stuff.” Let’s face it: If you received a shipment of new frames or triple durometer squeegees, your target buying audience probably could care less. “Instead, give them information they can use to solve their marketing challenges,” Atkinson says.
At Perfect Imprints, Black’s all about nailing the right content. For example, his team created Instagram stories around customer FAQs they all hear the time, such as: Can you manage our social media? “These evergreen story posts always bring in new leads,” he says.
And of course, in addition to great content, you need to post consistently, so people know when to look for new content. “Use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to make scheduling easy,” Atkinson says. “At any given time, I have two to four weeks of posts scheduled.”
As an easy starting point, ask your employees to brainstorm the most frequently asked questions they receive from your clients to help you develop a solid content list.
Remember, right now, your customers are looking for proven ways to hit their marketing goals and stay in touch with their client base. If your content helps them out, they’ll be a lot more likely to tune in to your social channels and website—and place their decorated apparel orders with your shop.