The benefits of content marketing are within the reach of any print or mail service provider, regardless of how limited your budget might be. Items like blog articles, white papers, customer case studies, social media, or press releases might sound expensive, but content like this helps establish a trustworthy reputation in your marketplace–without breaking the bank.

Content marketing is not only for the big players. It's an accessible and effective strategy for organizations of all sizes to communicate their brand values, engage their target audience, and drive growth.

Near-Zero Budget Marketing

It's possible to create and execute impactful content marketing strategies on a near-zero budget. This takes time, perseverance, and a little talent – nothing worthwhile is available for free. However, you can generate lots of results without writing big checks.

Content marketing is about sharing relevant, useful, or interesting material with your current or future customers. It's an opportunity to engage your market and transform your print and mail business from a simple service provider to a trusted industry expert and thought leader.

Something I really like about informational content for the print/mail industry is longevity. Most of what you publish today will still be relevant years from now. Given the lifespan of useful content, it’s a smart investment.

What's It Cost?

Producing your own blog posts and articles or conducting customer case studies require nothing more than time, effort, and a good understanding of your audience's needs and preferences. Similarly, leveraging social media channels is free unless you choose to invest in paid advertising. You can even implement email marketing on a minimal budget using free or cost-effective services.

If you plan to do your own content generation, the only cost is time. A mistake many print/mail industry companies make, however, is assigning content creation to someone in their organization that already has full-time responsibilities. This practice has been the downfall of many DIY content marketing plans. If you expect someone to create and promote informational content for your business, you must allow them time to get it done.

You may decide you can't allocate the time necessary to handle content generation and promotion in-house. In that case, you'll be looking for writers, marketers, or social media experts to handle the tasks. Your costs can vary with this approach and it's often a case of "getting what you pay for".

The printing and mailing business, specifically your printing and mailing business, is a specialized niche. A writer with little experience in relevant areas will produce dubious results. I've been told by clients who tried this route that the time they spent directing the writers and correcting the articles was longer than if they'd written the articles themselves.

Help you get from people with a wealth of industry knowledge will be more expensive. However, you'll likely benefit from minimal editing and correction time. These resources may even suggest topics your business should cover, based on their knowledge of the marketplace and your objectives and audiences.

What About AI?

You may think generative AI tools like ChatGPT eliminate the need for you or your staff to handle content-generation. AI is a wonderful tool that can shorten the time necessary to create informational content. It won't be able to do everything you need, however, and could cause you to publish errors or misleading statements unless a human is involved in the content creation process.

As content-generators, we've kept a close eye on AI developments as they relate to the document industry. We've found that even the latest tools produce less than ideal results when covering specific topics in the print and mail business. Use AI to help with content creation. Just don't count on it to do the complete job for you.

Building Trust and Credibility
Content marketing is an effective way to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in the print and mail business. By sharing topical articles, deep dive white papers, and other content, you make customers feel you're a valuable partner interested in their success. Customer relationships nurtured by relevant informational content keep them on board and engaged with your company.

Creating unique informational content can strengthen your reputation as a leader in your industry. Your brand becomes synonymous with trustworthiness and reliability. Through effectively crafted content, you can offer insights into industry trends, new technology, or regulatory changes that impact your customers' businesses via their print and mail activities. This keeps your customers well-informed and highlights your proactive approach to keep them ahead of the curve.

Customer testimonials or case studies showcase how your service meets the needs and solves the issues of real customers. Authentic stories validate your brand's claims and show the quality of your service.

Engaging Blog Articles

Blog articles are a versatile and inexpensive form of content marketing that can significantly boost your brand identity. A steady supply of new blog articles helps with SEO efforts, a critical marketing strategy when paid ads are expensive because of highly competitive pay-per-click keywords. Blog articles draw your audience to your website where you can show them more content and encourage interaction.

Start by identifying your customers' interests. You should choose your blog topics to focus on areas relevant to your customer's business, not your own.

Consistency is one key to blogging success. Make a commitment to release new content regularly. This keeps your website fresh, preserves audience engagement, and can lead to improved search engine rankings. Aim to create a diverse range of content that includes how-to guides, in-depth features, and solution-oriented articles that address your customer's biggest pain points.

Be personable and helpful in your tone and let your passion for your business and industry shine through. Your content should be void of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and organizational mistakes.

Writing and posting blog articles is just the first step. Next, you must take actions to get the attention of your audience. Create social media campaigns to highlight the main points of your articles and drive readers to read the full version on your website. Blog articles are also easily adapted as e-mail newsletters, printed newsletters, and magazine articles.

White Papers and Case Studies

White papers serve as a go-to source for in-depth information about products, technologies, and methods–which makes them invaluable tools of authority in the print and mail industry.

Marketers frequently use white papers as lead magnets. Add your white paper as a downloadable resource on your website and require readers to supply contact information to access this valuable content.

Shine a spotlight on your successes! Transform positive customer experiences into customer case studies–testaments to the practicality and utility of your services. When prospective clients see real-life examples of organizations benefiting from your services, it lends credibility to your claims and allows them to visualize similar success for themselves.

Highly targeted and relevant content like well-crafted white papers and customer case studies can be a powerful addition to your marketing toolbox. They seamlessly integrate with your content marketing strategy, nurturing leads and further establishing a trustworthy reputation in the marketplace.

Press Releases for Maximum Exposure

The nice thing about press releases is their potential to get your message in front of audiences you wouldn't otherwise reach. This requires the services of an agency that can place your press releases in widely read publications or websites. This service obviously comes with a fee.

Paid press release distribution, however, can be worth it. One of our clients recently issued a press release that garnered thousands of impressions and hundreds of visits to their website landing page. The syndication enabled by the PR firm generated much more interest than would have been possible with only a notice on their site or in social media.

Press releases are also indexed by the search engines. Links to the press releases turn up often in search results.

Video Content: A Powerful Tool for Print and Mail Services

In today's digital age, video has become one of the most influential forms of content marketing. It provides a unique way to exhibit your services visually, engage with your audience, and effectively communicate your brand's story. Video is a way to reach an audience you might otherwise miss.

Visual components like video content can help simplify complex ideas and make them easier to understand. For instance, printing processes or postal logistics can be complex and difficult to grasp. Through video, you're able to break down these processes and explain them in an engaging, easy-to-digest manner.

Video production doesn't have to cost a lot. With the current technology and tools available, you can create high-quality videos without a hefty budget. All you need is a good story to tell, a smartphone camera, and inexpensive software. Your videos do not need to be Hollywood quality productions, just authentic and relatable.

Video production companies may charge thousands of dollars for short videos. Sometimes you may want to use such professionals, but you can also do a pretty good job on your own with a small investment.

The goal with video is to captivate your audience by providing them with engaging and valuable content. Video can bring a significant return on investment, lead to more conversions, nurture existing leads, and strengthen your brand's position in the market.

Lots of Benefits, Low Cost

Embrace the power of content marketing, and you'll notice a change in your brand's appeal, credibility, and reach. Transformation does not happen overnight. It takes a while for the influence of content in multiple forms and distributed in a variety of ways to make a difference.

The low-cost for print and mail service providers to start and maintain an effective content marketing strategy makes it very attractive to companies in this industry. It's not about the scale of your budget, but the strength of your content strategy.

Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants creates content that helps attract and retain customers for companies in the document industry and assists companies as they integrate new technology. Learn more about his services at Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, or send him a connection request on LinkedIn.

This article originally appeared in the May/June, 2024 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.