Image Credit: Content Marketing Institute
Is content marketing a lie? Could it be that we're all nothing more than pushy sales people who write instead of producing 30-second infomercials?
And if not, what separates us from the types of marketing that consumers hate? If you’re having trouble coming up with a clear answer, let's at least agree on the fact that we want to be the good guys in this scenario.
Last week, a content marketer who was plagued with these same questions wrote an interesting piece on what he calls "the great lie of content marketing." Gulp. The lie, he said, “…is that all this wonderful content is just there to help. When the truth is that it isn’t just there to help; it’s there to sell.” Double gulp.
A few other writers blogged about different tactics that help content marketers rise above self-absorbed motivations that fuel these pushy, promotional style content marketing strategies. After all, isn’t that what we preach about in our own content anyway?
In this week’s issue of Content Crack, you’ll come to grips with the dirty truth behind content marketing (as if you didn’t already know) and discover new ways to make sure your content strategy actually does the intended reader some good.
By Doug Kessler, @dougkessler, March 30, 2014
Since we opened up with this piece, it’s only right that we properly introduce it.
Doug Kessler believes ‘all communication is manipulation.’ If you don’t agree, try rudely asking someone to tell you the time or how to use the subway and you’ll quickly discover that the meaning of that old phrase ‘you’ll attract more bees with honey.’ Getting what you want requires a bit of manipulative communication, so ask nicely and ye shall receive, but fail to do so and you’ll get squat. Kessler uses this very analogy to drive home the point that ‘all communication is manipulative,’ but as long as you don’t ‘unfairly manipulate or lie’ you’re in the clear.
Content marketing is no different than asking someone to pass the salt with a smile on your face. If you seem genuine, you’re more likely to be trusted enough to get the response you want. Likewise, there’s no need to lie or unfairly manipulate to get someone to read and engage with your content. Outright lying or hiding your agenda is the quickest way to kill trust or the potential for trust. Kessler does a good job of identifying the tight rope we content marketers must walk and explaining how to maintain balance. Selling isn’t a bad thing, he explains, so don’t hide your agenda and people won’t have a reason to mistrust you. Wise words from an ethical man. Follow him @dougkessler.
By Heidi Cohen, @HeidiCohen, March 31, 2014
Selling without being pushy about it is one of a content marketers greatest triumphs. Too bad there aren’t more marketers who agree. It’s hard to blame them when it’s so easy to get caught up in creating content marketing that’s purely promotional. But after hearing that Nielsen’s research shows that less than 50% of customers trust any form of advertising, you’ll probably want to change your tune.
For the brave few who manage to resist the urge to continuously send pushy sales messages is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Before you get excited about reaching that pot, you should come up with a plan to entice prospects through persuasive content. Giving a person enough information to help them make an educated purchasing decision or use your products better is the act of persuading instead of pushing them. In this blog, Heidi Cohen (@heidicohen) gives specific examples on how to diversify your content and still convert sales.
By Ben Harper, co-founder of Datify, March 30, 2014
Everyone’s looking for ways to fine tune their content marketing strategy in the most accurate way possible. Ben Harper suggests that by adopting a data-led approach you can identify new opportunities from your competitors’ activity, and your audiences’ preferences. His piece starts with a pretty eye-opening stat – “60 percent of B2C marketers plan to increase content marketing spend over previous yea’s budget.” If that’s direction the majority of content marketers are taking, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the full implications of not only continuing this strategy, but taking it up a notch.
But what should guiding your content strategy? The latest trends in everyone else’s blogs? Not. Until you adopt a data-led culture, all of your efforts are a mere shot in the dark, an educated guess. It’s a much safer bet to identify key data points, such as your editorial calendar, competitors’ content, external content, etc. to leverage what your audience wants and needs. By analyzing data, you can refine key components of your content marketing plan and feel comfortable switching gears if you’re going down the wrong path. Harper even gives you a neat Content Data report example that can be customized to fit any industry.
By Noah Kagan of OkDork, April 2
Targeting web visitors and converting leads into customers is the name of the inbound marketing game. While the goal is the same, the strategy differs based on which ‘expert’ you talk to. Some offer detailed explanations, other opt for the short and sweet version. Noah Kagan’s version offers both a short solution with a detailed explanation of how to execute it, along with various tools to help you along the way.
If you’re worried about wasting your time with reading this piece, don’t be. The tactics you’ll learn in this blog come from months, if not years, of trial and error and you get it all for absolutely free of charge. Kagan provides a wealth of screenshots that show you exactly what you should be doing, so you have the play the guessing game when it’s time to try generating 40,000-targeted visitors on your own. I’m actually surprised this blog doesn’t have more shares and comments. Sad to say, but I think even content marketers are put off by long blogs. The sheer amount of crap out there is to blame, but I assure you this piece is a diamond in the rough. And you didn’t even have to go looking for it yourself. Lucky you. ;)
By Evy Wilkins, @mainwilk, April 2, 2014
Content marketing, like most things, isn’t all about what you know. It’s about who you know. If you want to reach that very niche audience, you need to move in the right circles with industry influencers. Harnessing the power of peers and experts requires great people skills, which interestingly enough, isn’t something every marketer possesses. Small talk can be difficult at the water cooler, but even more so when you’re online and there is no water cooler. No central, neutral meeting place where a marketer can casually ‘bump’ into an influencer and have a real moment to connect.
So, Evy Wilkins (@mainwilk) wrote a blog that identifies an influencer-marketing framework created by Traackr and LEWIS PR. It starts by defining your customer or audience and working backward to figure out who these people engage with and trust. Because what’s the point in engaging influencers who have no impact or involvement with the audience you want to target and influence? Wilkins also provides a lovely infographic that nicely illustrates the framework. She also provides 9 expert tips to help actually get you started with building relationships with important individuals over time.