There’s a lot of hype around content marketing today. The new messiah to getting traffic and leads. Popular sites like copyblogger.com talk of it endlessly. Certainly adding new, fresh content to your site will get you noticed by Google, since google likes busy websites with good, original, relevant content and may often reward you with more traffic too, (assuming your website structure and SEO is fine).
But all this new content may be good for the soul and individuals or bloggers that just want to vent their rage or opinion online. Sometimes it seems to work, other times it does not. The ‘formula’ to writing good content and get sales leads is unclear. So, is it really something business websites should spend time on?
Content Marketing is not new – Ask Bob Bly
One of the world’s top copywriters, Bob Bly, in a recent newsletter reminded us that this ‘content marketing’ thing isn’t new. It simply marketing based on dissemination of free information that is useful and interesting to prospects and he’s been doing so for over 3 decades.
But according to bob, the bold claims around it today are disturbing and misleading. For example, he quotes an article from Target Marketing, Craig Fitzgerald who said: “Relevant, meaningful, authentic content is the key to inbound marketing. It’s paramount to attracting customers to your brand and keeping them engaged.”
Really? Content is “the” key? Not persuasion? Not copy? Not salesmanship? Not offers? Not benefits? And does it work for everyone? No. As Bob said No pizza parlor or dry cleaner I have ever dealt with publishes content on how to make a pizza or how to clean clothes. That’s not what their customers would want. It’s not how those products and services are sold. Content marketing is irrelevant.
My problem with marketing experts like Craig who are evangelists for the flavor of the month (in this case content marketing) is that they think their favorite methodology can be applied with a broad brush to every business — which is not at all the case.
This problem extends throughout the marketing community to every channel that is new, hip, and trendy — including content marketing, SEO, blogging, infographics, mobile, apps, and social media. The evangelists insist what they have is the next big thing … that it renders every other marketing method obsolete … and that everyone should be using it.
Maybe I should Hire a Copywriter
Bob is right of course. We are all looking for that next magic pill and we all think (including this author) that we can write our own content online, be heard and get more business. And by doing it ourselves, we save money. Tools like WordPress, used for this website, make it incredibly easy to post new material. Somehow, as the owner of a blogsite, we must magically know how to sell ourselves online and get others to do things, like give us money for our product or services. Yeah, right….
But when business owners, entrepreneurs, web designers and other ‘untrained’ writers push material online, they are inevitably just pushing out useless, unstructured information or what is opinion-focused. They just want to get the information or message ‘out there’ hoping it will generate a lead or sale at some point. Writing about their particular passion will be the key they think. But in reality, few of us really have the needed skills to write good, persuasive copy or even have an offer as part of the story or have an expert followup system in place that tracks leads. We seldom look at what we write online or in our email efforts from a true sales perspective.
I’m reminded of an old article/podcast on this site written back in 2009 where an offer from an insurance company direct mail piece, written by their marketing department and ad agency had a nil result. No response from the 10,000+ postcards sent out. (This itself must be some sort of world record).
‘Revised’ versions of the postcard with the same basic offer and message, re-written by an experienced outside copywriter and personality specialist Michael Lovas, that also took into account the persona of the recipient, subsequently generated 1,300 useful leads within 3 weeks. One the face of it the changes seemed quite minor, but they got the needed results, using tricks of the trade – And copywriting, selling and the ability to persuade people to act is a professional ‘trade’ requiring years of training to do it well.
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