Welcome to Web Wednesday.
I’m coming out swinging… And going on record saying…
“Content Marketing Is Bull—-!”
The content marketing “revolution” is bull—-.
– Yes, it’s the buzzword du jour of the web marketing community.
– Yes, it seems like everybody wants to be a content marketer today.
– Yes, brands are now investing millions in their content marketing strategies.
Why? Because they’re scared to sell. They’re afraid to ask for action.
So they trump up a so-called marketing approach that requires ZERO selling at all…
Is content important? Absolutely.
In today’s cluttered advertising world, advertising that just sells is usually advertising that fails. Consumers’ filters are stronger than ever. They simply ignore blatant pitches and selling messages, unless the sales message is targeted to their pressing desires with laser precision.
But if you want to reach a broader audience, you need to do more. That is, if you want to convert your entire target market – and not just your most rabid, ready-to-buy prospects….
Then you must use advertising messages that do actually enrich the lives of your prospects and readers.
The best marketing messages help you feel smarter, more informed. They give you something to talk about.
The advertising itself is valuable — it contains valuable content.
(This maxim, incidentally, came from one of the most effective salesmen and direct marketing copywriters of the last few decades, Gary Bencivenga.)
If you don’t buy, you feel better off for having consumed the marketing message. If you do buy, you feel better off for having consumed the marketing message AND buying.
But simply putting good (or not-so-good) content out there, and calling what you’re doing marketing…
Want to know what we, your readers, do after reading your content?
We close the page. We don’t care who it’s from. We don’t care about reading anything else from the person or company who created the content. And we certainly don’t care about buying from them. We’re too distracted by the next shiny object – the next piece of content.
Our attention is fractured and disloyal. We’re ADHD. We bounce from one piece of content to the next with reckless abandon. A video here. An audio clip there. An article or blog post over there. We don’t care who it’s from. We simply want the next shiny object.
This is why it’s so important to understand what you’re really doing.
If you write a good blog post, you’re a blogger. If you’re creating compelling content, you’re a publisher. And that’s okay.
Just don’t call what you do marketing.
Just don’t call yourself a marketer.
If you write good content – and you want to focus on writing good content – be a publisher. Admit what you are, and do it well.
Do it in a way that hooks and snags your best, most ideal readers, and keeps them coming back for more.
But that’s publishing – not marketing.
Marketing requires more.
Because the role of marketing is more than simply getting someone interested in the next piece of content, and the next, and the next.
Marketing has one role in business…
Marketing and advertising’s sole purpose is to drive the sales process. And do it on a mass scale, rather than one-on-one.
If your marketing and advertising approaches are not making your reader, your prospect, take one step forward toward the sale… They fail.
Generating good feelings with good content is not marketing.
Generating action with good content, on the other hand, can be…
So let’s talk about content marketing that fulfills the “marketing” half of its name…
Let’s talk about the only real form of content marketing – and how to do it.
What you’re about to discover are the three questions you need to ask yourself before you create any piece of content that should be used for marketing purposes.
And by the time your reader is done reading the content, they should have a clear understanding of the answers to these questions – even if they never know the questions.
– Do this right, and your content can actually drive and further the sales process.
– Do this right, and your marketing will cut through the clutter and get read.
– Do this right, and you will be growing your business.
Here are your questions…
QUESTION 1: What’s the big idea? What’s the core message you have to share?
My colleague Mark Ford, who wrote for years under the pen name Michael Masterson, taught a concept called the Power of One.
Every moving, stirring, compelling piece of communication is built around a single big idea. A single core concept.
By writing about ONE THING and making your entire piece of content about that one thing… You’re invariably going to create more powerful, more compelling, more mind-altering and life-changing content. Even better, more behavior-changing and sales-driving content…
Because writing about one thing is not confusing. There’s no complexity. It makes it easy to be clear in your communication. And if you want to be well-received, your communication must be clear. If you want to stir your readers to action, you must be clear.
So, before you sit down to write a piece of content you’d like to use for marketing purposes… Sit down and answer this question…
What’s the one big idea – the one core message – I want to talk about today?
Once you have that, you can move on…
QUESTION 2: Why does your reader care about this? Why is it important to them?
Stirring, compelling, moving content is not about the writer. It is about the reader. In large part, the writer should be invisible.
This does not preempt the telling of personal stories, or using anecdotes from your life, if you are the writer.
But the focus of the writing cannot be you, the writer. It must be the reader.
In fact, the most powerful writing that compels the most decisive, driven action… Is writing that puts the reader at the center, and makes him or her the hero of their own story.
How will your reader benefit from reading what you say? Why is it important to their life, as it stands today? How will it change where their life will go tomorrow?
What makes what you’re saying relevant to your reader, instead of just something YOU as the writer want to talk about?
If your content marketing is simply about yourself or your business, you’re failing at this. If your content marketing is about your reader, their problems and challenges, their hopes and dreams… And how they can move away from challenges and toward their dreams… You’re succeeding.
So before you write, answer the question as to the reasons why your reader should care. Why is it so important that they read and understand the content you are producing?
QUESTION 3: What’s the single action you want your reader to take after reading this?
This is by far the biggest distinction between great content and great content marketing. It’s the action you ask the reader to take at the end.
It becomes marketing when your content pushes ideal prospects one or more steps forward in the sales process. It becomes marketing when your content stirs your reader to action in pursuit of your products or services.
It becomes marketing when it changes behavior.
And in order for your content to change behavior, it must include an offer, and a call to action.
In the case of a blog post, short video, or a similar piece of content, the best offer is often a gentle one. You don’t need to whack them over the head with a “Buy my stuff” call to action after a helpful piece of content.
Instead, let’s say you have a sales video that contains “three tips for better content marketing.” And those three tips are relevant to the big idea of the article. So conclude your article with “Like this? You’ll love my three tips for better content marketing. Click here to get them immediately.”
With that gentle nudge, your prospect has moved one step forward in the sales process.
Or perhaps your sales team offers a free, no-obligation consultation that builds on the big idea. Simply say, “If you’re ready to take the next step, simply click here to request a free, no-obligation consultation to help you uncover your best next step for getting started.”
These gentle calls to action allow your best ready-to-take-action prospects to raise their hand and say they’re ready to move forward… Without scaring away your cooler prospects who are simply information-gathering now.
Do this persistently, and your content marketing will be a success.
Here’s the thing. Simply writing your next article, or putting out your next video using these questions may have an impact. It may be the most effective piece of content you’ve released all year, in terms of sales generated. Or it may not.
Yet when this becomes your system – when you begin to use these questions for EVERY piece of content you release – your effectiveness will multiply exponentially.
Each piece of content, rather than simply being a “feel good” piece, will operate as a portal, transporting your prospects deeper into your sales funnel.
And the effects will compound… Every piece of content your prospects receive will be relevant and worth diving into… Every piece of content will encourage your ready-to-buy prospects to move forward with you…
Sales will build on sales…
And the effectiveness of your content will multiply.
Here’s YOUR call to action…
This article is not written as a marketing piece. Although, admittedly, it could have positive marketing consequences for me as a consultant.
Rather, this is written first and foremost as a manifesto. Because I’m tired of seeing worthless blog posts peddled as “content marketing” – when I know for a fact that the vast majority of this is simply wasted marketing investment by small businesses that can’t afford the waste.
I want to change the state of content marketing.
I want to make it more effective. I want it to actually accomplish business goals, and generate sales results.
So if you’re a content marketer – that is, if you write content that you consider to be marketing… Here’s the action I want you to take as a result of this…
I want you to write down these three questions and keep them next to your computer. Next time you want to write a piece of content marketing, put these questions into your document first…
And answer them!
Then build your content around the answers to the questions.
Here they are again…
– QUESTION 1: What’s my big idea? What’s the core message I want to share?
– QUESTION 2: Why does my reader care about this? Why is it important to them?
– QUESTION 3: What’s the single action I want my reader to take after reading this?
And if you’re a business owner or marketer who hires people to create content marketing for you, use this as your system.
Before they actually create blog posts, videos, or whatever other content on your behalf, make your content creators answer these questions first, in writing.
Make them justify the existence of the content – in terms of what it says, why your prospects care, and what results it will generate in your sales…
If even one business improves the effectiveness of its content marketing as a result of this, I will have done my job.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets
PS — Did you see my invitation to attend my November workshop on Advanced Direct Response Copywriting for FREE? Click here for your invitation. (Only until June 30th.)