Do We Need To Become Better Sales People Before Content Marketers?
Whilst creating value becomes the magnet to persuade, taking a wholly altruistic angle where you just say, ‘lets help’, is never going to win.
An approach with a big heart, but no strategy, will not create a positive outcome.
You cannot just inform other people and not align this with what you do. This will result in failure.
To attract customers and bring peoples attention to your side is not just a case of standing up and saying, ‘lets create content,’ it all relates to how you can build a rapport so others will align, interact and buy from you.
My Biggest Issue With The Show Don’t Tell Mantra
When it comes to creating content for an audience, lets just recognise that we are not professors or heavy weight academics whom have spent decades mastering a profession (by the way, this is why none of us are experts).
These are people who get paid by a university establishment, not a predominantly B2B customer base.
We all represent the voice of businesses and whilst we have moved on from pure product benefits fanfare and heavy self-promotion, we are still here to create profit from the work we produce.
I am 100% behind the role to educate, inform, challenge and entertain others, but it has to align with your business so others find an attachment.
It Takes Time
It may take time to convert a prospect to a customer. If it’s over two years, that’s ok. The way you take on board a content marketing/owned media approach is by allowing others to join your content stream at different periods. However, everything is geared towards an audience where there is a clear focus for who they are, the role you provide and the value you want them to take from it.
There is nothing wrong in selling where the objective is obtaining a stronger customer base (as long as it’s not the hard sell). It does become blurred when there is a relentless approach to inform, unless it comes from a deeper approach that ties into the nature of your product/service.
The focus has to be on isolating that thing where people choose your business over someone else, once you have communicated that message.
To become a good content marketer, you need to appreciate what it takes to sell what you believe in. If marketing relates to the message you share, sales links to the exchanges you own.
Proof When It Just Didn’t Align
Here is an example where I have wasted a lot of time on an initiative but it did not connect and I failed.
I wholeheartedly informed, but in no way did I align.
During 2014 to 2016, the Once Upon A Time (with my good friend Matt Desmier) event took place in Bournemouth where business owners and people of influence were invited to the stage at Shelley Theatre to share their own story and the varied paths within their marketplace.
This event included brands taking part such as Ted Baker, River Cottage, Saltrock and more local to home Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, Organix and LV=. At the time it was a perfect vehicle to invite a face from a business in front of others and to be 100% honest with an audience.
It was a place where, for an afternoon, we all stood shoulder to shoulder. People left lifted, buoyed and there always a real buzz when looking at the Twitter timeline throughout the evening. Even people who attended wrote great write ups (see what I mean), sharing what they took and helped with the reach.
However, what it became was a very time intensive project to put together with no return (by this I mean, no conversation was ignited after the event by guest or audience). This included traveling to meet up with potential speakers and chunks of the day spent getting to know people (which I have to say was brilliant). This wasn’t a case of a one off, but six events over two years. It provided no path to build on. Why? It did not align with what I do.
I put this down to the fact that whilst there was an abundance of value, it didn’t necessarily connect with the undertones of what my business does and the approach I take (focused on ownership with a content marketing approach).
There was no way to maintain the dialogue or explore further. With all the hours spent to get people in and then dedicate an afternoon to present, looking back it makes me realise that if you give back with no purpose to what you do, it is not good for business. It just becomes a huge drain on the most precious of resources, time.
Here’s A Formula
Creating a deeper connection that shares business interest alongside value creation plus the ability to build a network/community leads to a better business.
So, what’s the answer?
There has to be a balance between linking to your objectives and the value you create for others.
We all need to become better equipped at connecting deeper with others first to reap commercial reward.
It is better to link back to the purpose that you have, rather than an ego driven to collect but not convert.
Before you think it’s time to commit to a content driven approach, there has to be an appreciation for the longer-term return.
Here is what you need to do when it comes to aligning others with what you do, rather than the belief that you have to create content to just inform.
- Wisdom over information
Anyone can create and distribute the same tired messages with no real perspective. An article related to ‘content is king’ was the fail safe to write about in any marketer’s toolkit in 2012 (still a hefty 41.3m results).
This has now moved to ‘how AI will impact business’ (with a growing 15.3m results).
A better sales process is centered on providing insight that takes on experiences gained rather than other articles read. The wins, losses and openness that is shared with others, has more ability to connect on a personal level when there is some form of lesson learnt, that no one else can take away. Why talk about AI when it is something that you have no first hand experience to talk about in the first place?
- Evidence over opinion
Providing evidence that stamps individuality beats stating ‘I believe.’
It is easier than ever before to make a statement and share it with the world. The word fake news wasn’t part of our vocabulary less than a year ago.
To present an approach to someone else there has to be enough familiarity that is backed up with proof for others to resonate with you and what is in front of them.
- Resource over search
When you create for people who want to read/listen/watch what you put out into the big wide world, is much healthier than hoping someone is going to take notice just because you got the SEO seal of approval from Yoast.
If you are talking to decision makers, write from a detailed level about how a process works and how factors influence decision-making. You can’t paint everybody with the same brush. If your audience is those people getting to grips with social media, it is wrong hitting them with the virtues of live video from the outset. You have to write for people who will build enough trust that when the time is right to talk, it becomes much easier.
- Nurture over speed
When delivery is centered on a customer/audience it takes time to build. The answer is not by throwing money at a Facebook campaign as the answer to quicker acceptance.
Instead of gambling everything on the one email to that database you bought last October, it is time to spread the message and variety of angles over months and years. The difference between the one email blast and nurturing what you are creating by finding new angles and conversations is that you are selling over a longer period of time, not as a result of one piece of creative that is sent to a mass audience.
Create your centre of gravity that is the asset that you have control of (your website). People spend too much time thinking that when a new website goes live, it is time to sit back and take the applause. When a new site is live, the journey has only just begun.
- Community over collection
The default measurement should never be the collection of eyeballs. When working on the Once Upon A Time event, the focus was on people buying tickets, not looking at ways to deepen a relationship or ways for other opportunities for people to buy and creating additional services.
If you start from the outset to create connections rather than chasing numbers, you can cement better relationships. Working side by side to help create something better, rather than creating conditions that feel dictatorial and forced ie. the auto DM response when following someone on Twitter to then follow them on Facebook will never feel right.
- Target over creation
During the early days of the Marketing Homebrew podcast, in 2015, the focus was more on getting shows done and broadcasted and understanding how a medium works (still learning though).
When I record the Marketing Homebrew podcast today, I always imagine I am talking to someone else, who I know. When I talk at presentations, if there are people who I know in the audience, I will always mention them.
When you know who you are creating for, it makes a difference over creation to fill a space because it’s there.
Lets Round Up
Lets get real and recognise that we are not established academics but businesses who are looking to align ourselves with others, based on what we believe in an how our products and services can help others.
If you can deliver what you believe in and build relationships with those who matter it all comes back to the old mantra of we all buy from people we trust and believe in. Alignment isn’t what you say in a blog post, it’s something you do when there is more than one business involved.
Everything you do as a business is built on relationships, so people feel comfortable when buying from you. It just so happens that you have the channels to stand up and be counted within.
To become better content marketers we have to understand the role we play, the value others will take, how this aligns with what we do and how this turns into profitable action.