Mark Goodwin in his Manchester piano showroom

One of our clients is Mark Goodwin, an affable family man from Manchester earning his living selling Yamaha pianos to ordinary people – and sometimes celebrities. And he’s very good at it (as well as being a dab hand on the keys himself).

If he ever needs templates changing or technical wizardry behind the scenes, we offer website support and maintenance to him via an issue tracker. But otherwise, everything you see is his work. In this regard, he’s a dream client because:

  1. he owns his content, utilising fantastic content marketing principles (that we’ll explore in this article) to engage his existing customers so they keep him in mind and recommend him to their friends.
  2. he and his family get involved with his website and social marketing. Every day, even if it’s only to update the stock list.

We use Textpattern for his website because of its insane flexibility and speed, and also because of its Just write approach to content management. In fact, most clients use this CMS due to it being a blank canvas upon which to craft many types of website; then it stays out of the way so they can concentrate on producing high-impact content.

But that’s not the focus of this post. This is about Mark and his approach to content marketing. So let’s tinkle the ivories to find out how he does it…

Information can be fun

Still from Mark Goodwin's John Lewis 2018 ad campaign spoof

Mark has a keen eye for what is going on right now and is very reactive to situations. One year when John Lewis posted their Christmas ad campaign, he sat up that night creating and editing his own version. It was well received, and well shared.

Another time, he pledged to give away 100 free harmonicas to cheer up the nation if the Conservatives won the general election in 2019. And then, when they did, followed up with a wonderful tongue-in-cheek escapade at the post office.

Notice what he did there? Both posts were informative, funny, ultimately shareable via social media (to the extent that all the harmonicas were snapped up in half an hour) and he invited people to engage with his channels. He encouraged sign-ups and feedback in exchange for enjoying the content. He doesn’t beg, plead or coerce, because he doesn’t need to. He offers.

Doing the right thing pays dividends

Response to Mark Goodwin's generosity

Another fantastic example of how to do something right occurred during the coronavirus lockdowns. He asked his social media followers to nominate NHS or key workers who were deserving of a digital piano he had in stock. One lass, despite not winning overall, had so many votes that Mark arranged to send her a free piano anyway.

It was a lovely gesture, not done for attention or Likes, but because, as Mark says, “If you’re not going to look for opportunities to make someone’s day in the process of running a business then you’re not doing it right.”

As it happened, the nurse was so overwhelmed by his generosity, she recorded a video tribute on her social media and sent it to Mark who then reposted the video and local newspaper article on his website and own channels. Yet again, his reactive and nimble nature capitalised on the fabulously unexpected publicity for simply being decent. Anyone who saw the video or read the story – even those who didn’t share it directly – equate Mark with integrity and will vouch for him. That’s something money can’t buy.

Content marketing is about giving expertise

Mark Goodwin

As well as frivolous information on how to tune your own piano, Mark also offers solid advice on countless pages of his website, based on his decades of experience. He has free guides available on topics such as whether digital or acoustic pianos are better and why you shouldn’t buy a cheap piano as well as a more in-depth guide that is deliverable when signing up for news and updates.

The information in the freely available content is fantastically well-researched, light-hearted and eminently readable. The content never feels salesy or descends into that territory, so doesn’t feel disingenuous. At the end, he offers you the opportunity to learn more by sending him a message to ask piano-related questions, or to sign up if you want more. Sometimes it’s some other simple call to action like leaving feedback if you’ve enjoyed the service. That’s it. Honest, high-quality information delivered for free because he’s a decent chap and doesn’t want to see people spend hard-earned money on something they’ll regret in a few years.

Crucially, that information carries weight. Significant weight. And in content marketing terms, it’s worth way more than the (considerable) time it took him to compile it for the following reasons:

  • Search engines will consume the content and spit it out for anyone who is thinking of buying a piano, without Mark needing to put it in a paid ad slot. The quality and detail of the content mean it’s usually placed in a top-ten spot for organic search results. Impressive.
  • Anyone who is thinking of buying a piano owes it to themselves to read it because it’s so comprehensive and authoritative.
  • Anyone who knows anyone who’s thinking of buying a piano will, in a heartbeat, dig out the link to the article and pass it on.

The implied message when sharing it is I’d buy a piano from Mark Goodwin. He’s trustworthy. And he is. There’s nothing sinister or ulterior about his campaigns, he’s simply honest and transparent with his marketing. And that’s both refreshing and engaging.

Never post for the sake of it

Hand holding stylus by tablet device

Mark will never post when he has nothing to say, because he knows there’s intrinsic value in what he does post – whether long- or short-form. Even the occasional jokey blog entry will have an element of shareability.

He doesn’t flood people’s feeds with dross. There’s always a focus or a drive behind everything; a desire to be the best at what he does and offer a friendly, no-nonsense service beyond the norm. He doesn’t necessarily post every day, and that’s a good thing. While his list of pianos for sale in his showrooms is always bang up-to-date his website blog content sometimes lags behind his social channels as the needs of his business (and his time) ebb and flow around his family.

But that’s okay.

He doesn’t need all channels blazing at all times because he plays to each medium’s strengths, knowing the difference between jumping on something right now on social media, and how to follow up with website content for the SEO long tail.

Ultimately, he’s not afraid to be creative. To have fun. To tinker. To laugh at himself and the absurdities of life and share that with his customers alongside the wealth of expertise he offers in all things piano. Customers and followers reward him by interacting with his posts, sharing his content, and recommending him to friends and family without him having to trick them into doing so.

That is simply something no algorithm, no automated ad campaign and certainly no analytics can deliver. It’s hard graft to do it yourself and to not rely on lazy, automated tools to make a half-assed job of boosting sales on your behalf.

So thank you, Mark, for being a shining beacon of how to do content marketing right.