Enter the content marketing backlash.
We are not far away from seeing posts titled “Content marketing is dead.” But really, it’s just getting started.
Yesterday, The New York Times ran a story about Marcus Sheridan, who often goes by TheSalesLion. It’s a story about how a guy that sells pools took a business on the brink of bankruptcy and turned it around. He did it with a “revolutionary marketing strategy,” which boils down to simply answering customer questions.
That’s it. He researched the questions customers asked the most about his products, and he blogged about in an agnostic and consultative style. No selling. No pressure. Just relevant information. That brought his business back from near death.
In a world filled with complex strategy and where executives spend hours editing and re-editing adverbs for oh, a very pleasing polish, it’s a refreshing read with real-world results. And anybody can do it.
Anyone that’s heard Marcus speak knows he is plain-spoken, honest, and passionately wants to share what he’s done with others so that they too might find success. There’s one part of his interview that really jumped out:
Q. Once you wrote a blog post, how much time did you spend promoting it on Twitter and Facebook?
A. I didn’t. Dude, that one article on price has never been tweeted. It’s never been Facebooked. I’m not saying social media doesn’t help, but it’s nowhere near what people think. The only metric that really matters is [the] total pages viewed. Here’s a statistic for you: If somebody reads 30 pages of my River Pools Web site, and we go on a sales appointment, they buy 80 percent of the time. The industry average for sales appointments is 10 percent. So, our whole marketing campaign revolves around getting people to stick around and read our stuff, because the longer they stay on our site, the greater the chance they’re going to fall in love with our company.
If the post wasn’t shared on social media — how did his customers find it? They found it through search.
Long-tail search terms that target a specific buyer and puts a blog at the center of a content marketing framework, where all other shared media platforms are spokes that lead to a hub.
More than anecdotal evidence the data overwhelmingly favors content marketing:
- Small businesses are doing content marketing: 74% said they plan to increase their budget on content marketing in the next year.
- Mid-market businesses are doing content marketing: 44% of Inc. 500 companies have corporate blogs.
- Big businesses are doing content marketing: 65% of top brands in the US report engaging in “influencer marketing,” and “blogs are the primary place where influencers engage with online fans.”
Does content marketing get abused? Yes. Is there a lot of junk content out there? No doubt. Does that mean you can’t succeed? Absolutely not.
Lee Odden wrote that search is an explicit expression of need. It is by definition a question — we search for answers.
If Marcus is any example, we should answer those questions clearly and honestly in content because our prospective customers will find us and hang around for a while.
As I once heard him remark on a Webinar, “My mama always said, if you hang around the barbershop long enough, you’re going to get your hair cut.”
He adds, in the aforementioned Times’ article:
Q. What do you say to business owners who say they don’t know what to blog about?
A. That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard, and I hear it a lot. What they should be doing is just listening to every single question they get and answering it. In my consulting business, the first thing we do is brainstorm what questions the company gets on a regular basis. I’ve never had a company come up with less than 100 questions in 30 minutes.
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Content marketing backlash? Fuggetaboutit.
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Photo credit: Flickr, darkday, Brain Explosion (CC BY 2.0)