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Content Marketing Backlash? Fuggetaboutit


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:

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.

* * *

Content marketing backlash?  Fuggetaboutit.

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Photo credit: Flickr, darkdayBrain Explosion (CC BY 2.0)

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12 Responses

  1. I have had this open all day to read — and I am so glad I saved it! I was lucky enough to hear Marcus Sheridan speak at last year’s Social Slam and his enthusiasm is absolutely infectious! I’ve been a fan of his ever since and actually use his story as an example in one of my own speeches. (And let me say, may I please never have to follow him in a speaking gig because I am SUCH an introvert!)
    Google+ is most definitely a game changer. Looking for a pool contractor? Google. Looking to hire a graphic designer? Google. And Marcus is right — it isn’t rocket science. Serve your customers. Answer their questions clearly and truthfully. It comes down to whether or not your content is relevant and whether you are optimizing smartly for how your customer will search. Marcus initially posted most of his content on his blog. I sort of differ there. I like to post content on different platforms — guest authoring, article sites, my blog, press releases, etc… The more platforms I’m posting my optimized content, the better chances I have of my potential client finding me!
    It always comes circling back to whether your content is worthwhile. You will not maintain your rankings, traffic, credibility or customers if you don’t publish content that is worthy of their time.
    I haven’t read the Pushing Social post, but am pulling it up now. It sounds like something I would like.

    1. @TaraGeissinger  Whoa!  The enthusiasm Tara!  It’s awesome.   I’m with you on Marcus.  I was actually moderating that webinar and have to admit, when they told me it was TheSalesLion, I was thinking:  Who picked this guy?  Who the heck is he? What a goofy name.
      Then he started talking and quite literally blew me away. It was eye opening to me on so many levels. He’s a guy that literally practices what he preaches — and no ego. It’s admirable. 
      I’m a big fan of guest posting too.  In fact, I’ve limited posting here to just twice a week so that I can work on a 3rd post as a contributed post once a week. They say save your best posts for guest posts, and I try to do that.  
      Thanks for keeping this open all day and coming back for a comment.  Hope you enjoy Pushing Social.  He’s another one that I feel tends to not cross enough radars.  I think that is changing; he’s very pragmatic and straight forward.

  2. I am not against content marketing by any means, but I still don’t buy into a lot of the hype that some people are pushing. It is easy to talk about success but I am skeptical about some of the claims. I think some people are pushing stories on slick looking websites that aren’t being supported by internet success.
    Again, I am not saying that content marketing doesn’t work or that businesses shouldn’t look into it but there is more to closing a deal and inking a contract than writing about our offerings.
    Just my two cents.

    1. @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes And that’s what I’m after, Joshua.  Forget the hype and focus on the customer.  In that respect, the data is pretty clear.  And I’m not just talking about it, I’ve done it. It works.
      I can tell you right now, my geographical target audience for this blog ranks 5th in demographics (by US states) in terms of volume, but they also, by a long shot, spend the most time engaged. About 4.5 minutes. That’s phenomenal. And exactly where I want to be. Who gets 4.5 minutes of time on the web? 
      That said, I think you have a valid point.  The misnomer about content marketing, or the parent term “inbound marketing” is that it will relieve people of the hard work that is sales. Sales is hard work. And it requires outreach.  Just avoid being too aggressive. It’s still a relationship business.

      1. @Frank_Strong  I agree 100% with you on this! Sometimes it seems as if everybody is looking for the “easy button” when it comes to marketing (and life in general.) There is no “easy button.” Posting content in a certain place or at a certain frequency isn’t going to magically grow your business.
        That being said, I’ve had a content marketing company for 6+ years now — before it was even called “content marketing.” The results produced from creating and publishing relevant, quality content pertaining to your industry are 100% measurable. I have seen businesses go from zero to leader in a matter of months simply because of a well-crafted content marketing and SEO strategy.

  3. jfritsche

    Content marketing will never be dead, because content marketing isn’t new. Companies have always wanted to be seen as experts in their particular fields, while also engaging with prospects and existing customers. I truly believe nothing is as good at accomplishing both those things as what we call content marketing today. It’s just gotten a shiny new term slapped on it, and it’s the hot commodity in the industry, especially with the advent of social media and new technology. But when that hype dies down, the practice will continue on just as it has before. :-)

    1. @jfritsche I do think there are aspects that are new.  For example the variety, speed and dynamics of many of the platforms we can publish are a far cry from a glossy magazine sent through the mail.  But you’re right, the spirit of providing content that educates a consumer is not new. 
      Personally, I like the term content marketing.  I think it’s very fitting. 
      Thanks for stopping by…and yes that is some thread on SpinSucks.  A good conversation!

      1. jfritsche

        @Frank_Strong There are definitely aspects that are new–I mean, as technology AND the marketing industry at large evolves, new tactics will always come into play. But I think the idea and concept of “content marketing” will never really go away, even when it’s not the buzzword of the day. 
        I like the term as well. Content marketing is so much less overt and in your face than traditional promotional activity, and it actually becomes a useful resource versus something that is in the moment and almost selfish, if that makes sense. What better way to market yourself than simply by providing useful information and being a trustworthy resource? I can’t really think of any!
        It’s really interesting–my company started as a custom publisher, and while we’ve broadened our capabilities quite a bit, print is still en vogue! I think the classic tactics will still be around for a while…until we all have our flexible color eInk panels with perpetual wi-fi, anyway. :-)

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