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How Does Content Marketing for Service Providers Work?

Angeline Rast
28 February 2019

Compared to manufactured products, services are less tangible and oftentimes quite complex. This implies particular challenges when it comes to marketing, since building trust and demonstrating expertise are of the utmost importance. This is where good content marketing fits in seamlessly, since, using specialised knowledge, content is created that caters to what the target audience actually wants and needs. This way, service providers can reach their audience in a cost effective manner, show off their know-how, and prove their credibility right from the get-go. We will now show you how this works.

What is content marketing – the concept

The US-based Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as follows:

„Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach. It is focussed on creating and disseminating valuable, relevant and consistent content, in order to attract and retain a clearly defined target audience. Its ultimate goal is to stimulate profit-generating customer behaviour.“

Herein, it is the word "valuable" in particular which provides a special characteristic and delineation, as compared to other forms of marketing. When your audience has a genuine interest in your created content, actively seeks it out, and consumes it – that's when you know you are doing content marketing right. Likewise, you can very quickly see how this differs from the majority of contemporary newspaper, radio, and TV ads.
Hence, the basic idea is not to promote your own brand or services, but rather to consistently provide content that is educational and solves problems.

Service marketing is faced with special challenges

Much that works just fine for product marketing, has to be adapted or completely revamped when it comes to service marketing. For example, you can display a product in arbitrarily many shop windows, send it to trade magazines for review, or distribute free samples. On the other hand, the immaterial nature of services means that they have to be re-performed each and every time, or that the processes have to be demonstrated clearly and explicitly. To touch, take home, try out, return a service… Sadly, none of this is possible for potential customers. The perception of risk is correspondingly more pronounced when it comes to making a purchase decision, as is the importance of trusting the service provider.

Furthermore, explaining and demonstrating services is often a substantially more complex endeavour. Even when it comes to highly technical tablets, the customer can quickly grasp which specs are the relevant ones for him. Maybe he wants a large display or a long-lasting battery, or he wants a powerful CPU, so that everything runs as fast as possible. The corresponding information is quickly found and explained. However, once one is looking for a pension consultation, for the right third level education provider, or is wanting to find insurance cover – that's when the flood of information and concepts quickly becomes overwhelming.

Content marketing is especially suitable for service providers

Therefore, displaying your service in an appropriate manner requires space! And, in the age of rented billboards and advertising spots, that's an expensive commodity. Content marketing makes paid ads a thing of the past. Just focus on putting all required material on your own website, and your own social media presence. Here is where space is cheap, and knows no boundaries.

There is a much smarter way to use your web space, than to clutter it with ad banners. Don't focus so much on your services, instead, provide your customers with educational information relevant to the topic at hand. This shines the spotlight squarely onto the interests and needs of potential clients – which, if successfully implemented, will lead to customer satisfaction and trust. This way, the service provider comes across as someone who is genuinely interested in helping, rather than just being focused on their own gains – one of the greatest challenges in sales and marketing.

Having your website as a source of information leads to your expertise and know-how being recognised by many people who have an interest in the topic at hand. Among those will be some who aren't just looking for information, but also for quality services they can purchase. What is more convenient than navigating to your offers with the click of a button – now that you have already attracted the prospect to your site, and sparked their interest?

This is how to implement it – an overview

From online guides to tables, from webinars to software tools – useful information can be presented in a variety of ways and forms. You must always bear in mind both the target audience, as well as the nature of the content itself. What is the core information you wish to convey? And which formats have proven most effective with your chosen target audience?

For example, infographics are particularly useful for displaying statistics and numbers. Make it easy on the eye! For the executive manager, an audio-podcast to be listened to while driving can be of special interest. On the other hand, the most suitable formats for Facebook are photos, GIFs and videos (featuring auto-play functionality), which really stand out when scrolling through newsfeed.

Due to the continuous emergence of new technologies, behavioural patterns of Internet users are likewise in a continuous state of change. For example, a study on content trends, shows that 48% of respondents stated that they accessed the Internet more often via Smartphone, than they did via Laptop or PC.

Further added value is provided to content marketing from social media. So long as created content is really relevant, valuable and interesting, your audience will be more than willing to help with distributing it for free – thereby turning themselves into promoters of your company. And since recommendations by friends are regarded by many as especially trustworthy, those "Likes" and "Shares" are indeed very valuable.

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