Solutioning: Some yabo calls or emails you and after a brief hello, starts in with: “We’re the nation’s leading provider of world class, scalable whatzits and we would love to tell you more about our solutions.” Stop it. Nobody cares about your products and services. Really. We don’t. In fact, as soon as the solutioning starts, our eyes start to glaze over. Why? Because we are conditioned that what follows isn’t going to provide value to our day. Your content marketing strategy, like your sales efforts, needs to be WAY better than that to be effective.
“Good content shares or solves, it doesn’t shill.” ~ Ann Handley
Content Marketing Strategy: This is the third of my blog posts inspired by Ann Handley and C. C. Chapman’s book: Content Rules. Let’s look at six characteristics of good content marketing from the book:
Ann and C.C say: “Your content is not about storytelling, it’s about telling a true story well.” Great content paints a picture that others can see themselves in. Relate the positive experiences others have had because of their involvement with you by using real stories that people can relate to, not fairy tales that inflate. This is so important, (and we could talk for weeks on the value of integrity) if for no other reason, simply because if a customer starts down the road with you, you really don’t want them to find out things are not really the way they pictured them in your brochure. Making stuff up about yourself would be the antithesis of marketing; it’s more like un-marketing.
Great content marketing strategy is all about your audience. Thinking about what your audience will find relevant is a good start, but don’t stop there. Ask. The good news is that the internet has made this much easier and faster to do. Create a poll on LinkedIn, or ask around on the Focus Network, on Quora, Facebook or use Surveymonkey. Tweet about your idea. Use your free ears on the world wide web and see what others are saying online about the same or similar ideas. Test the waters a bit. If you are on to something, your audience will engage. Then you will know it’s relevant enough to make the cut in your content marketing efforts.
Interesting that Chris Brogan and Julien Smith devoted a section of their book: Trust Agents to the importance of being human on the web as well. Consumer behavior has moved on from static one-way push marketing. Unless your brand is portrayed with a human voice, and is interacting with the public, you’re missing the point of content marketing. The whole idea of the world wide web is that it connects people to people in ways we couldn’t have imagined before we started using it. Make sure your content has moved on as well, from sounding like an advertisement to sounding like a story told by another human. Make sure your content is easy for people to like, comment, tweet, so they can share it with other humans too.
I have left jobs before because I just didn’t believe strongly enough in what we were doing. For a while I tried to fake it because, let’s face it, I like money, but after a while I my successful promotion of what we were about started to wane and my customers began to notice. If you’re not passionate about what you do, why the hell should they be? Content marketing has to come from the heart. There may be a small percentage who don’t care about this, but the vast majority of consumers want to be inspired by what you do. If they sense that you are not 100% sold on what you do, it’s pretty hard for them to get excited about it themselves.
“But you don’t understand, we’re different from the rest.”
How many times have we heard that? Anyways, different doesn’t always mean better; like the time my friend Gary sleepily pulled on two different styles of sneakers one day and didn’t notice until he was already at the office. Are you different in a good way? If you really are, then you shouldn’t have to tell everyone about it. It should be obvious. Stop telling us you’re different already. Be original by demonstrating the difference and showing us why it should matter to us.
This one makes me think of Christmas. I remember when I was little, I found it very difficult to sleep on Christmas eve. No doubt it had something to do with the sugar cookies I had for dessert, but mainly it was the anticipation of the surprise that I would feel as I looked under the tree in the morning. It made my heart beat a little faster and made my mind race. I was so excited because I wanted to know what would be different in my life tomorrow. To be effective, your content marketing must provoke this kind of interest and be surprising to your readers. Do something fresh, something no one else has done. Have fun with it! Take chances. Let your freak flag fly, as Jeff Ogden says. Your audience will reward you for it.
If you haven’t already, you need to read Ann Handley and C. C. Chapman’s book: Content Rules.
What an awesome collection of ideas, which I have only touched on here.
To read the rest of my posts inspired by this book: