by Kim McWatt
I Need More Cowbell Content!
“Content, content, content,” – say that with a petulant whine à la Jan Brady. Are we making too much out of content? Content is all the rage today. Content is King! Content is everything, and everything is content!
While everything is content, not everything is relevant. I cannot count how often I’ve been told: “I need more content!” That statement always brings to mind the hilarious SNL skit with the amazingly talented Christopher Walken as Bruce Dickinson demanding that he needs more cowbell. And just like in the skit, the cowbell eventually overpowers the music, takes on the ridiculous, becoming annoying, so does the demand for more content. Content for the sake of content is useless without context or value to the audience.
Content marketing – the next big thing
Successful content marketing means communicating with customers and prospects about products and services without the hard sell. The focus is on freely sharing information, arming the buyer with what they need to know to make intelligent purchase decisions. Through the delivery of relevant content, an organization can develop a relationship with the customer over time, gain permission to communicate with the customer via other mediums (email, direct mail, online) and eventually lead to a sale. The customer is seeking information that solves a problem or gives them insight. They want information that has value – the business that provides that information authentically, freely, and without an immediate sales pitch will gain trust and credibility with their target consumers.
So how do you break through the clutter and create not just any content, but content that is interesting, important and energizing for customers – content that builds trust in the business, initiates conversation, and eventually leads to conversion? Here’s a few questions to consider:
- What is the marketing objective? Focusing on driving quick response or building a relationship over time? Content marketing is not a one night stand. It’s building equity with the consumer over time. If you’re only interested in making the sale, getting customers to make instant decisions, then content marketing is not the right fit.
- What keeps customers up at night? What problems do they need answers for? What are their concerns, what are they talking about online or with sales people, how can you provide the most value? Get the full picture of what your customer really needs and then help them get it.
- Where are they? Are they online reading blogs or talking on Twitter? Do they make comments on Facebook or through customer reviews? Depending on where your content is being consumed, and the preferences for your target audience on how they consume content, this will make a big difference in how content is being written and presented. A print ad is not like a PR announcement, which is not like website copy, which is not like a Tweet, which is not like a blog post, which is not like a direct mail letter, which is not like an email…you get my drift. While the underlying message may be similar, the way it is presented is vastly different. Depending on where the customer is on their purchase decision journey, tailor your message to suit. But always start with compelling, interesting, value added content to draw the customer in. Creating a whitepaper that is overwhelmingly “advertorial” will not instil consumer confidence or build trust – especially if you require customers to provide their email address to download the information. All they will think is that they’ve been hoodwinked into giving away their permission.
- How do you write it? These two statements say it all: “Content without copywriting is a waste of good content. Copywriting without content is a waste of good copy.” Sonia Simone of Copyblogger Media provides an interesting overview of why copywriting and content go hand in hand. Even though you provide valuable information to a customer, it doesn’t mean you neglect giving customers a call to action. Don’t be blatant and turn an excellent article into a hard sales pitch, but at least drive them gently toward your end objective.
Now, next time someone says to you “I need more content,” aside from thinking of cowbells, hopefully you can get the context you need to make the content work for your customer.
And now, back to Christopher Walken. Yes, this is somewhat irrelevant content, but you have to admit, he is amazing…
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