Article orignally posted by Mike Tempelman for Forbes online.

Content marketing has a bad reputation of taking a long time to provide results. Similar to SEO, it’s been sold as a strategy that requires many months, if not years, to fully turn a positive ROI. Well, I tend to think that’s a bunch of hooey. In fact, there are strategies in SEO that can produce results almost overnight. Similarly, there are tactics in content marketing that don’t require a lot of time to deploy, and can generate immediate leads for your company. Here are a few with some examples of them in action.

Webinars

Webinars can be a daunting proposition. They seem to have a lot of moving parts, and a lot of things can go wrong with them. But in truth, they’re quite easy to launch if you have a solid game plan and the right tools.

First, you’ll want to pick a date. Try to make it a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Then, pick a time. The lunch hour and the last few hours of the work day are the best times to host a webinar. People usually have free time around then. Next , you’ll want to sign up for a webinar tool. There are several out there such as Webinars OnAir, GotoWebinar, and Fuze. The team over at WPCURVE has put together a great review article of 8 popular tools. I’d suggest vetting them and finding out which one will best suit your needs.

Once you have all of that in place, you’ll want to create an engaging slide deck, write up an email campaign that promotes your webinar, and put together a social campaign to help promote it (don’t be afraid to spend a little cash on this).

During the webinar, you’ll want to ensure that you’re asking poll questions, hosting a Q&A session, and really looking to solve problems your customers are experiencing. By doing this, you’ll ensure that you are engaging with your audience and keeping them locked in.

And don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a lot of attendees. We usually see sales opportunities at a rate of 30 to 50% coming from the customers that attend our clients’ webinars. So, even if you only have a handful of people show up, you’ll probably get a few customers from your efforts. And stick with it. The more webinars you do, and the more topics you cover, the larger the audience you’ll build.

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To highlight the value of webinars, we can look at a company called Planbook Plus, they’re a lesson planning software for teachers. They sell to one of the hardest to target markets, the educational space. Not only are their target customers incredibly busy with teaching their students, but they’re also limited by their budgets. Thus, they’re not always open to direct marketing activities.

But Planbook Plus doesn’t try to sell with high-pressure, direct response campaigns. Instead, they host dozens of webinars per month. They do this to ensure there’s always a time that works for their clients. They also make the webinars viewable via an on-demand section of their website. This is a great way to continue getting value out of a live webinar.

 

By focusing on a content strategy that suits their customers, they’ve been able to launch many new products and grow aggressively in a historically slow-growth industry.

Webcasts or Video Blogs

Webcasts and video blogs are different from webinars in that they’re not an interactive event, they’re usually only 2 to 10 minutes long, and they’re not scheduled or require attendance. These are videos that you produce and then post to your blog, YouTube channel, or social media profiles.

Webcasts are a great way to personalize your brand and to really make a connection with your customers. Plus, they’re really easy to produce. You can easily record a webcast on your cellphone, download a free or paid version of a video editing app, and within minutes you can have a somewhat professional looking video ready for posting. And even if the video isn’t at an Oscar-worthy production level, that’s alright, the grittiness is also endearing and shows your customers that you’re just marketer trying to get by in the world.

A smart tactic for webcasts is to find specific problems that your customers face on a daily basis and address those an efficient and succinct manner. Also, let your personality shine. These should be mini conversations with your customers.

A group that has this strategy on lockdown is Complete Currency Trader. They’re a FOREX training group that releases new webcasts on almost a weekly and sometimes daily basis. In the videos they break down trends in the market, strategies for their students, and give their expert forecasts.

They also put a cherry on top of the videos by transcribing them into text in order to get the maximum SEO value out of their content.

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Another company that leverages videos that are posted regularly is Hornblower Cruises. They’re a group that provides party, dinner, and tour cruises out of ports all around the United States. And what’s one big question that most of their clients are going to ask? Am I going to have a good time? So, Hornblower answers that question by showing videos of their previous voyages and makes sure that the fun is front and center. These videos work great as convincing material on the website, but they’re also a big draw when promoted on social media.

I’ve talked about eBooks, whitepapers, and other pieces of content as downloadable assets numerous times. But another form of content that customers just eat up are templates, tools, and worksheets. These are PDFs that you create the help your customers perform a certain task.

For instance, if you’re targeting small business owners for your tax services, you could provide a free tax organization sheet on your website. Or if you’re a lawyer, you could provide boilerplate template documents on your site.

The reason you do this is because your customers are searching for these tools. In fact, free tools are some of the most popular search terms for many industries. So, if they’re looking for them, give them what you need. Yes, you won’t convert every single one of them into a lead or customer. But even if you just get 1 out of 100 to become interested, that’s one more than you would have gotten without the free tools.

If you’re looking for ideas, check out what IntouchInsight is doing with their free audit checklist section of their website. They’re providing a bunch of free tools to their customers, and – and here’s the crazy part – paper checklists are what they’re trying to replace with their app. But they understand that their customers are often choosing their app as an alternative to a paper checklist. Thus, they know their customers are going to be searching for checklists, so why not provide them with it. Then, at least they get a chance to pitch those customers on that service.

Just make sure that you gate the free tool behind a form that requests at least an email from the customer. That way you get a chance to give them your pitch.

You see, as I mentioned in my recent article, if you have your content radar up and running and are looking for content opportunities, you can find some quick to deploy strategies. And just because they’re quick to launch, doesn’t mean they can’t be incredibly effective when it comes to lead generation.