With online retail giant Amazon recently acquiring the bricks and mortar business Whole Foods, many business commentators have turned to debating whether this is yet another signal that the ‘high street’ is dead.
While rates have been frozen for small shopkeepers and Mary Portas has tried to work her magic, you can’t fail to spot boarded up windows and vacant shop fronts on every high street.
But what about those who work in the service industry? Is it also all doom and gloom for those who operate from premises? Or is there another way that you can breathe life into your bricks and mortar business after all?
In this guest blog, Jack shares his own case study from Terrace Physio Plus in Australia to answer this key question: Does Content Marketing Work For Bricks and Mortar Service Businesses?
The short answer? Yes.
Although many experts, and much of the data, would suggest that bricks-and-mortar businesses are becoming harder to grow and a difficult business model to operate, this isn’t always the rule.
There are challenges, costs, and changing behaviours associated with physical businesses, however a successful content strategy has helped us grow our hands-on, physical service-based industry and more than double our business in 2 years.
There are three primary reasons that content marketing works for bricks and mortar businesses, and how you can make it work for yours.
1. Creates authority, expertise and demand.
An effective content marketing strategy is, at its core, educational.
And by extension, those providing effective education are positioned as experts (at least in the minds of potential customers).
When helpful content is produced by someone (a person or business) that positions them as the authority, and then paired with an effective distribution strategy (blog, Facebook, email, etc.), the demand from your target consumer increases exponentially.
Consumers want to see the best. They want access to the best professionals – the thought leaders and those at the forefront of their profession/industry.
A comprehensive content marketing strategy means that you may not only BE an expert in your industry, but you will be SEEN TO BE the expert.
You can be as qualified as you like, or have the greatest solutions on the planet, but unless you convey that to those who have the problems you can solve in a way that is meaningful to them – you’ll probably go out of business.
Content marketing isn’t profiteering or false advertising – it is communicating solutions to those that have problems, and providing a way for those that need it, to access the information that they are seeking.
Check out this example from our blog: www.terracephysioplus.com.au/blog/surgery-back-pain.
2. Decreases fear, increases familiarity.
One of the challenges of a physical business is actually getting people out of their homes, off their butts (and their phones), and into your premises.
There are a number of reasons that potential customers are resistant to visiting a bricks and mortar business, however good content can help them overcome this.
Again – good content is helpful and answers questions.
The saying goes that ‘people buy from people that they know, like and trust’ – therefore, you should be doing whatever is within your reach so your potential clients feel like they know you, before they even set foot through your door.
Use content to decrease the fear of the unknown, and help them feel comfortable with the layout of your facility, the faces that they will see, and what to expect when they first come.
An example of how we do this at Terrace Physio is on this page, which is sent to our clients soon after they book an appointment: www.terracephysioplus.com.au/appointment-confirmation
Don’t forget that people buy from those that they ‘know, like and trust’ – and content marketing is the perfect way, across many mediums, to increase these success factors before people set foot in your store/clinic for the very first time.
3. Adds to the customer experience and journey.
From a physical service perspective (that is, a service that must be delivered in-person over a number of consults), there is a lot that can go wrong.
A typical scenario for a physiotherapist is that our patient/client will have a 6 week rehab journey, in which they might have 10 face-to-face sessions.
That means, in a 600-hour period, they will be face-to-face with their therapist for about 6 hours in total.
The success or otherwise of their outcome is highly dependent on what happens OUTSIDE of the consult room.
And this is where content comes in.
Through various different content mediums, we are able to enrich the client journey exponentially.
The end result of this is better outcomes for our clients – faster recovery, more complete recovery, and better prevention methods.
In an industry as specific and confusing (to clients) as healthcare, education and content is such a helpful strategy to empower the client.
We are able to use content in many different forms, and at many different points in the buyer’s journey, including:
- Immediately after making an appointment, to help with any ‘buyers remorse’ via email
- Create familiarity with the therapist and the surroundings via video
- Provide convenient appointment reminders via SMS
- Make it easy for clients to make consecutive bookings (https://www.terracephysioplus.com.au/blog/booking-appointment-problems)
- Share our any policies, such as rescheduling appointments and our late notice policy via email.
- Provide videos of their home exercise program (https://www.terracephysioplus.com.au/blog/physio-exercises-physitrack)
- Check in with the progress in between appointments via SMS
- Reinforce any messages upon discharge via an email nurturing sequence and CRM
- Check in with progress between consults via video
This is just a snapshot of the different ways that content can increase the touch-points of a client throughout an experience – and more touch points generally means better compliance, better informed clients and, at the end of the day – better outcomes for both the client AND the business.
In an age where bricks-and-mortar businesses are facing more challenges (and rightly so) from the online space, and physical services are faced with the difficulties of 21st century lifestyles, it is incumbent on us to be strategic with our approach to business.
We have at our disposal so many content tools that make it easy to:
- Create expertise
- Decrease fear, and
- Improve the client journey
It would be remiss of us as business owners not to take advantage of the tools and methods at our disposal.
The service, solution, or message doesn’t change – but the methods must.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic too:
- What are you doing to use content to improve the client journey and experience in your business?
- Are you in the brick-and-mortar game, and facing challenges with client attraction and retention? How do you combat your current challenges?
- What excuses are you making for not stepping up your content marketing game?
Please share your experiences below and feel free to ask if you have any questions.
- Guest Blogging: Why I’ve started a Guest Blog
- The Power of Niche in Content Marketing
- What is content marketing?
- Give your audience the facts: How avoiding exaggeration builds trust with your audience
About Jack O’Brien
Jack O’Brien is the Managing Director of Terrace Physio Plus, a physiotherapy and massage therapy business across 5 locations in NSW, Australia.
Jack is a physiotherapist himself, but is passionate about creating clinics that are known for exceptional client experiences and delivering great outcomes.