I hate the idea of content marketing…
And yet, here I am, writing an article, for my business — giving away what some have called THE BEST direct marketing and copywriting content on the internet, for free.
Seriously, I’ve been told — many times — that my emails deliver more value than other subscriptions people pay monthly fees of $99 or more for.
And, in fact, I’ve often used this content for marketing purposes.
Selling training, workshops, coaching, and more.
So you could call me a content marketer.
Why am I such a hypocrite?
Well, thanks for asking… I guess…
I believe people call themselves content marketers, in many instances, as a wimpy excuse to not have to sell.
“If we create really good content, we’ll create brand equity and awareness in our marketplace. And when prospects are ready to buy, they’ll be more likely to choose us.”
As I rattled off in my One Big Idea video on Dan Kennedy’s No B.S. Direct Marketing, Kennedy’s Rule #5 is…
“Whatever brand-building occurs will be a happy byproduct, not bought.”
Your first intention, above all else, is to generate revenue.
This may seem subtle, but it’s important.
Sometimes I put out entire essays with ZERO links, calls to action, or offers in them.
Sometimes I don’t tell you overtly to buy anything.
Sometimes, yes, my free content does appear to be free.
But at the very least, all of these essays and articles serve as traffic generators to get more prospects into my universe and indoctrination to get you thinking in a way where you’re more likely to buy from me in the future.
This isn’t content for content’s sake, with a side of the warm fuzzies.
This is me delivering content to you that will make you a better buyer over the long run. Which includes (but is not limited to) serving you with incredibly valuable free content you can go out and apply right now to earn more money to spend with me in the future.
All great selling is value-first and win-win…
Let me ask you where the selling starts in this story…
You have a new young family, and you decide it’s time to get a minivan. You search Google for minivans. You click a search result from a local dealership, talking about how to choose and buy your first minivan.
You read the page. It is actually educating you in a big way. It reinforces why people buy minivans in the first place. It gives you some ideas of what features to compare. It stimulates you into thinking about how you’ll use the minivan, to help you establish buying criteria.
It invites you to call in to a vehicle purchase concierge, who agrees NOT to try to sell you anything, but rather to answer any questions you may have.
You call and have a conversation. You talk about minivan options, including where in town you can test drive the top couple models you’re interested in. One of those places is their dealership, but there are also two competitors.
You ask about scheduling a test drive, and they help you make an appointment with someone who can help.
You make the appointment, and arrive for your scheduled test drive. It happens to be your next available time, and you never got around to making those other appointments.
You drive the van they have, and they ask if you’ve considered how you’ll pay — whether you’re paying up front, or need a loan. And if you need a loan, if you’ve considered all your options including your current bank, as well as in-house financing.
They offer to help you have the conversation with the bank, which you’re grateful for because you don’t have that conversation every day. They get you connected with a representative at your bank’s branch, and figure out that you’d qualify for a loan, and on what terms. They make it clear with your bank that this loan would apply to any new van you chose to buy. They also help you compare that rate against their in-house lender.
They help you look at options, without it ever feeling like they’re forcing you in any direction. They help you consider color, and trim, and accessories for the van.
And on, and on.
At no point do you ever get the “used car dealer” vibe from them. You never feel an ounce of pressure, only the feeling that they’re there for any help and advocacy you may need in making your decision.
You decide that’s the kind of dealership you’d like to return to for service in the future, as well as anything that may come up in the purchase itself.
And so eventually you say, “let’s do it.”
You bought because of the value they gave, in the direction of the sale…
There wasn’t any overt “salesmanship” — and definitely no “closing the sale” — and there didn’t have to be.
They treated you like a human being, capable of making your own decisions.
They overwhelmed you with value, to the point where you’d want to do business with them.
But all along the way, they never lost sight of the ultimate goal.
It wasn’t empty value.
They weren’t giving you content for its own sake.
They were using content and value to create a win-win scenario where you’d choose them to buy from.
Knowing that the end goal they had to keep their eye on was making that sale.
What did that do for their brand equity and image? Shot it through the roof, no doubt. If you went through that kind of car-buying process, you’d be absolutely happy to refer them to friends. Plus come back for more.
But that’s not the goal.
Every step has a next action, that moves you further toward the sale.
Every step is designed to create momentum, leading toward the purchase.
If you want to write content, go be a journalist — if you’re willing to sell, you can be a marketer…
There’s nothing wrong with being a journalist — in fact, I respect journalists immensely and sometimes consider what it would be like to join their ranks.
But a journalist is a journalist. And a marketer is a marketer.
A journalist creates valuable content that informs while building the brand equity of the publication. Because a publication succeeds on the value of its content.
But a marketer’s ultimate goal is to make the sale. Every other goal must serve this ultimate goal.
If you want to be a marketer but are unwilling or unable to tell someone to buy, or move forward with whatever next step leads them to the sale, quit. Go do something else. Go be a great journalist.
If you want to sell, welcome to the club. You can be a marketer.
You can create great content, and that content can be designed to move prospects toward whatever next action will be required for them to make the purchase.
Tie that to an explicit call-to-action, and you’re off to the races.
Oh and by the way, this can be done in a single shot. Many of the most successful long-form direct response promotions open like they’re pure value, introducing you to something new and interesting. And it’s not until you’re at least a couple thousand words in that it becomes clear you’re about to be sold. But by that time you’re so interested that it doesn’t feel like selling, and you don’t mind at all.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,