Stop Hiding From Customers Behind Content Marketing
Marketers create a lot of content... We make content about our products. We make content about our use cases. We make content about our company and our people. We make content for every SEO term. We make content for demand generation. We make content for sales. We make content for customer success. And we make content in every format—web, blog, email, social, image, video, webinar, podcast… marketers scorched the Earth.
The concept behind content marketing is sound. Direct marketing, advertising, and email were noisy and disruptive. These methods began to lose effectiveness at driving opportunities and customers. Companies began creating free content to share ideas and opinions. Customers appreciated this information, and businesses were able to drive customer growth again through content. Before long every company had a blog. Then every company had a Twitter account. Then every company has a YouTube channel. Now we’re drowning in content. It’s noisy again.
There are a lot of debates about the volume of content that marketers produce (way too much), and the quality of content that marketers create (it’s mostly crap). But very few are calling attention to the mentality that marketers have towards content. Specifically, marketers still assume that content is the answer, even if we advocate for fewer, high-quality content pieces. We have to challenge this assumption.
I believe that companies put too much content between them and their customers. Marketers create content for content’s sake. User journeys are laughable. We create a video that we embed in a blog to promote a white paper that triggers an email nurture sequence that includes blogs, webinars, and infographics that point to other white papers that trigger more email nurture sequences. Content should be created to connect customers with a product (sale) or a person (meeting), not get in the way of these connections.
There have been countless times sales and marketing colleagues asked me how to reach out to inbound leads. “What content should I send them?” “What white paper do you recommend?” “Should I invite them to the next webinar?”
No! Email them about their availability for a meeting. Better yet, call them. On the phone. Right now.
Why are companies so afraid to speak with potential customers? Why do we always hide behind content?
We have to break this mental model. Marketers spend too much of their time, energy, and budget on content. And prime customers are being held at arm's length for no apparent reason.
Marketing organizations need to determine the minimum amount of content needed to generate a sale or meeting. Additionally, we have to be fearless about asking customers to buy or take a meeting. Then strike with that ask when the iron is hot (as soon as they first engage with content), because the more you expose your customers to your content, the more likely your are to drive them away—unless all of your content is absolutely mind blowing (it’s not).
As marketers, we have to stop force feeding content to our customers. We have too much content and most of it really isn’t that good. Let’s stop hiding behind content marketing when a customer shows interest.