I’m making a generalization here, and I hate generalizations.. but think about this:
Look around. The information age is over. There’s so much information now, that we are in the age of recommendation. Because of the overwhelming amount of information out there, people are increasingly turning to peers and their recommendations to help determine what, if any, information on the WWW is fresh and relevant. Because of this, a big part of content marketing is realizing that information and tactics are not assets – relationships and conversations are.
Two things happened to me lately to underscore the relevance of this principle for businesses today:
Event #1: At a tweetup in Portsmouth NH with a hundred or so bright, articulate enterpreneurs well-versed in marketing, social media and the creative arts, there were three presenters who unanimously shared this message: “open source is the key to innovation, better product and more money.” While traditional businesses protect their “intellectual property” with miles of costly legal red tape, some of the best products today are coming from open source firms, and they are taking the market by storm. (Red Hat, Apache, WordPress,Mozilla and Android for example…) These are not obscure hacker caves, these are multimillion dollar companies! Ironically, there’s even a firm offering open source legal forms now: Docracy. It seems counterintuitive at first, but by opening up access others who are able to share their ideas and input, consumers benefit by getting a better product. Contrast this with proprietary solutions that have long held their ideas close to the vest, and have suffered the plight of a restricted, inward focus. Information is everywhere and so are tactics. Information and tactics are not assets – relationships and conversations are.
Event #2: A while back I was approached by a recruiter about a job. It sounded like a possible good move so he coached me (read: He told me what to say) and we scheduled a phone interview. I talked to the hiring manager and we hit it off very well, connecting on many levels, (despite the fact that I ignored all the tactics the recruiter told, er, coached me to use.) We set up a second interview, but after a bit of research, I realized I just wasn’t ideally suited to this job. When I told the recruiter I was bowing out, he got very abrasive. He told me this was going to be damaging to his reputation and he left me angry voicemails demanding that I “CALL HIM IMMEDIATELY.” I think my wife put it best. She said “he was off-putting.” (She has way more class than me.) This man was arrogant, self-absorbed, disrespectful, inflexible and socially handicapped. It was easy to see that this was not so much about finding the right fit for me or his client, but about his agenda, his reputation and ultimately, his lost commission. He even had the social ineptitude to suggest that if I knew of anyone else whom I could refer for the position, to let him know. Yeah. The tactics and information that had served him well in the 90′s is not much of an asset today. Now contrast that with my current boss. She calls me into her office about once a week. Instead of demanding anything, she asks me: “How’s it going?” (and she listens to the answer!) How do you feel about the job today?, Is there anything you need from me? and oh, by the way, great job so far! She understands that tactics and information aren’t what I need and aren’t going to get her anywhere. She has earned my respect, my hard work, and oh yeah by the way, I’m exceeding my goal in sales. What we have is working and working well. I’m on her side, because she’s on my side and we both get what we need fromt the conversation and the relationship.
In content marketing, information and tactics are not assets – relationships and conversations are. It’s the age of recommendation. Time to ditch the tactics! Give away information! Focus on developing your content in such a way that it fosters great conversations and strong relationships with your customers.
If you’d like to have a really good conversation about this… contact me! Let’s build a relationship together.