Stop Selling Content Marketing and Start Selling Ideas

The aim of content marketing is to build a qualified digital audience for a brand or company. The philosophy behind it is simple: give people the content with which they want to engage for free and so create a sense of loyalty towards your brand or company which, in the long run, will lead to sales.

This approach to marketing does work but it is not an easy concept to sell to the South African market. For a lot of clients, this approach seems a bit ‘airy-fairy’, and because most of them want a clearly laid out plan that shows how any and every digital effort will translate into a sale, content marketers have taken practices and procedures from the traditional marketing bible, most notably ‘buying personas’ and ‘buyer’s journey’, to make the content marketing pill easier to swallow.  Needless to say, this has led to some Frankenstein hybrids that consisted of just enough traditional marketing to keep the client happy and just too little content marketing to yield any notable results.

Stop Focusing on Marketing

Don’t get me wrong, creating personas to discover who you are speaking to, and figuring out what kind of content these personas want and where they want it, can be useful, but as soon as you add words like ‘buying’ and ‘buyer’, the focus in the minds of all involved shifts to selling, the content becomes about selling and so we alienate our potential audience who are looking for information rich content without the sales pitch. Perhaps the industry shot itself in the foot when we called what we do content marketing.  

Start Focusing on Content

Personally, I believe that we should stop worrying about personas, buying stages and client concerns about making sales. Instead, we should shift our focus back to the core of it all: creating great content and getting it out there. Great content transcends personas, is shared, talked about and remembered and even has the power to melt the heart of the toughest of bean counters. If it moves you, you’ll want to be associated with it. If it moves you greatly, you’ll want to own it.

What does this type of content look like? It is company/brand relevant, information rich content that is presented from an emotional angle. You have to score big on all three fronts, but especially the emotional front because that is what hooks both the client and the audience. You want them to abandon reason, fall in love with the content and then rationalize their love with the educational value which it provides. This is how you gather approval from the client, and likes and shares from your audience.  Add a subtle company/brand reference, and the concept behind the content will be viewed as ‘clever’, which will get them talking about the brand or company.          

So how do you convince clients to stop focusing on the bottom line and to buy into the idea of content marketing? By not walking into a meeting and selling the idea of content marketing. By walking in there and selling them a great idea.