There’s so much advice out there and so little time to do any of it.
The truth is you should ignore much of the advice even though the authors and experts tell you it’s a “must do.” Like the fifth dentist who doesn’t recommend sugar-free gum, I’m recommending you ignore much of the hackneyed content marketing advice.
While the “4-out-of-5 dentists” advertising campaign wanted you to believe there was a rogue dentist plying patients with sweets just to get more business, the reality is the fifth dentist just didn’t want you chewing any gum at all.
Content marketing advice often falls into the same valley of bogus trickery. Read on for red flags.
You must do content marketing
This is a limited view of content. Yes, content production is critical. You can’t become a thought leader unless you’re producing media or others are producing media about you. Unless you’re Kim Kardashian, chances are others aren’t talking about you, so you’ll need to create your own credibility.
Marketing can be a result of content production. But those consultants that solely recommend “content marketing” are missing the greater potential of content to deliver so many more business services such as product development, employee development, recruiting, and competitive analysis. For more, read Why You’re Failing if Marketing is Your Only Content Strategy.
It’s all about story
You’ve heard this one hammered into your head about 1,000 times. The reality is for many products we don’t need a story. Look around your desk at all the products you own, use, and love. For how many do you know their story? If it’s zero, congrats, you’re part of the majority. Most of us don’t need to hear the story. If that’s true, then why are we constantly being told that we need a “story?”
Often interesting content that is not based in “story” can be valuable in itself. For more, read Great News! Nobody Wants to Hear Your Story.
Know your audience and keep the content relevant
File this under “buy low, sell high” or “get the ball in the hoop.” This isn’t advice. This is the equivalent of advising someone on the basics of starting a business: Find out what people need, make it, and then sell it to them. If you don’t know your audience, then you shouldn’t be in business in the first place. This advice assumes you’re a moron. If you’re reading this, you are most definitely not.
Figure out what’s keeping your readers up at night and write about that
Similar to the above advice, but this assumes that your potential customers are only motivated by fear. For example, if I sold dolls, I wouldn’t be advised to shoot a video or take photos of kids playing with dolls. No, according to this advice I would create content that showed a father worrying about being loved by his daughter and then demonstrate that need for love can be quenched through the purchase of a doll.
Make your content engaging
At the last ad agency I worked at, I overheard a creative director say to an art director, “This sucks, do it again.” I was kind of amazed at the comment because the “advice” completely negated the creative director’s role. He was neither “creative” nor giving any “direction.” I have no idea why that guy had that job.
I also have no idea why anyone gets paid to give the advice “make your content engaging.” It’s the equivalent of telling you to be good at your job. Do me a favor, make something I want to consume and share. Don’t make something I won’t consume and share.
If you’re obsessed with making your content “engaging” you’re not focusing on making it any good.
Make your content actionable
This definitely falls under the ABC’s (Always Be Closing) mantra of sales which in itself falls under the literal definition of content marketing, a term I despise (yet use begrudgingly for SEO purposes) because it says “here’s some content, but little do you know it, we’re going to market to you.” For more, read Why I Hate the Term “Content Marketing.”
The advice of make it “actionable” stresses that you need to “throw in a sales hook” and convert. Yes, for some content you’ll need to do that, but geez, if you do that with everything you’re going to really annoy your audience.
The reality is all good content is actionable. You read a good book or see a good movie you want to tell people about it. That’s the kind of “actionable” all content should be.
For years we lived in a world where smoke and mirrors was the standard. Given the massive exposure and distribution of the Internet, everyone has become a watchdog making it far easier to expose BS artists and quickly disseminate their misdeeds. That exposure has been proven to be severely damaging to reputations, which resulted in lost money.
Therefore, the advice of “be transparent” is pretty much saying “your days of pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes are over.” Does this constitute advice or is it merely telling people, “Stop being a weasel?”
It’s about the conversation
Read a thread of YouTube comments. Does the ignorance, hatred, and misogyny incite you to participate? What about a Twitter feed of almost any hashtag? Can you follow the “conversation?”
The truth is everyone has opinions and most don’t actually elevate the conversation. If you truly think it’s “all about the conversation” then you’re not going to be reading a conversation, you’re going to waste far more hours pushing away piles of manure to find gold nuggets.
So what’s the good advice you actually follow?
With all the good advice that you’ve heard out there, which ones have you taken to heart and are you actually following? And if you like this advice you’ll also like The Worst Advice about Content Creation.