Haven’t read part 3? Check it out here.
We’re at the last part of this series, so it’s time to deal with what’s probably going to be your biggest challenge in breaking into Black content marketing.
If you’ve read this far, I’m confident you’ll be able to pick up the skills and techniques you need and stay on top of trends and what works. Getting past kickback though, is going to take a little bit of effort. I know, because like I mentioned before, I’ve spent the last few years working in a niche that didn’t “believe” in content marketing.
I share that partially because I want you to remember that this issue isn’t unique to Black businesses. There will be some culturally specific challenges but you can overcome all of it with the right strategy.
Overall, I have a strong sense that as Black content marketing develops, smart investment will be more than worth it. (If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have created this site.) Which is why I want to give you a few practical ways to address some of the plateaus and challenges you’re likely to run into while you learn your way around the world of Black content marketing.
Handling Those Objections
We already touched on the primary one…the idea that Black businesses won’t invest. This isn’t true, and actually masks a few other, real challenges that are easier to spot and address if you put those businesses into a few different categories.
1) They understand their need for content and are open to freelance help
These are the people you want to focus the bulk of your time on.
They’ve already got a blog, a newsletter, a podcast, and social media presence and you know you can help them get more out of it. If you see that they’ve started any of those things and have fallen off, that’s a huge indication that you can support them in reaching a goal they already care about.
You can help them with pretty much any general advice you get here or on the dozens of content marketing sites out there. These clients get the importance of the services you offer and once they trust you, see you’re a good match, and the time is right, they’ll be ready to sign. (These, btw, are the kinds of clients you’ll find most frequently posting jobs on bidding and job sites, but for Black businesses, you’ll likely have to hit them up cold on your own or through your network.)
2) They might be reluctant and just need convincing to build some trust
This second group…the businesses who need some convincing…are good prospects too. They just might need some time and communication to build trust. This can take weeks, even months (maybe even years), but if you stay respectfully persistent, you’ll be their first consideration when they come around.
That might mean sending a few messages about their competitors, shooting out emails to follow up on their content presence, or even visiting their booth at a show or event. This is also the place where a few testimonials and references can really pay off.
I can’t leave this section though without mentioning the importance of getting your foot in the door. You might need to consider a discounted project (aka “hookup”) to open up that first level of trust and get them some easy wins.
That doesn’t mean you work for free though. Here are a few things I’ve done with Black clients to give a discount that didn’t leave a dent in my business…
- End with a bonus: …something like “buy 4 blog posts, get one free”. Putting the “Free” at the end makes sure you get paid and gives them something to look forward to. It also gives you time to learn more about their business so you can propose more work in the future.
- Include a free, “light” content strategy plan: Make sure to let them know this is something people are usually charged for. Keep the ideas general enough that you aren’t spending a ton of time, but specific enough that they can tell you’re interested in and understand your business. Something like a few blog ideas, product features, or newsletter concepts should be enough.
- Offer to fix a simple problem: Some problems are easier to fix than others. Something like adding a call to action to buy on all (or a number of) their posts can start getting users flowing through the site (and money coming in) with minimal work on your part.
The most important thing to remember is that you want to push for some way to show quick results so unless they’re just ecstatic to have somebody covering their social media, you’ll need some sort of baseline to prove that working with you helps their business.
This can be anything from sales numbers to analytics, so have a conversation up front to let them know you want to see their numbers improve. This way they’ll be more willing to track (or start tracking) the results you bring in.
3) They’re nowhere near where you’d need them to be to work with you
This last one, is where I think a lot of people (incorrectly) assume most Black businesses live. (Personally, I think most fall into the second category and just don’t have enough professionals listening to their specific challenges.) The big mistake here, is thinking someone not being ready to invest in a freelancer means they’re a lost cause.
There’s still opportunity here for creating options that scale (i.e. something like a trend and style newsletter that salons across the country can use and you can easily personalize). You’ve also got the option of productized solutions (courses, software, communities, apps, etc.) that let you offer low-cost help to businesses who might not be ready or willing to invest in customized freelance help. That though, is something that’s usually best left to advanced freelancers who’ve taken the time to see what kinds of problems and goals are common to a large group of businesses.
However you decide to approach businesses who serve Black customers, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind…
- Be ready to show results. Your own are great, so flaunt that portfolio, but if you don’t have any (yet), you can find some general data (e.g. how product descriptions help conversion on Amazon) that can be helpful too.
- Ask them the results of what they’re doing now. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s important to start where your prospects are. You might be great at writing case studies, but if someone’s only comfortable with blogs, you probably won’t get them to make an immediate jump. Start where they’re ready and help them use content to build toward their future goals.
- Keep the conversation going. Few prospects become instant clients. Remember that you’re building a relationship and you might need to check back in occasionally (usually monthly) to see how their business is developing and how you can help.
- Get jealousy moving by mentioning competitors: I use this quite a bit when I know who someone’s direct competitor is. Most businesses want to keep up with somebody, and a little nudge here can move them from the third and closer to the second category. (You’ll notice a lot of niche-specific newsletters that target businesses do this.)
The most important thing to remember though is that you’re on a journey to understand a special corner of Black business. Document what you find, center your clients, and if you need more support, come sign up for the free, weekly newsletter to stay connected. I’m going to be talking about this topic more in the future and you’re not going to want to miss it.