My name is Remi, and I have a problem. I’m a compulsive food thief. In all fairness, my thievery is driven by instinct and an awesome sense of smell. When it comes to food that I’m not supposed to take, I have a fondness for cinnamon rolls (who can blame me?), but honestly, anything edible is fair game.
Even though I get scolded for stealing food and feel guilty, I can’t seem to stop myself. Why? Because psychologists say that we all (humans included) have a strong instinct for self-preservation and an innate selfishness – even if we are kind and generous.
These traits carry over into many aspects of life and work, including content marketing. As a marketer, your natural instinct is to tout your company, and brag about how great your products and services are. Hey, I get it – I love to show off my superior size, especially when strolling by little dogs. But, there’s a time and place for promoting yourself and content marketing is not it – at least not at the top of the sales funnel.
In fact, when you generate and distribute a bunch of promotional “we’re so great” content, it’s a bit like stealing time from your customers, who are looking for relevant, useful information to help them solve problems or answer questions. Here are a few ways to give more than you take:
- Produce more relevant content. The key to engagement is value – does your content provide something that your readers want? The best content addresses customers’ questions or pain points. What information do they need to make their business grow? What queries do they have at each stage in the buyers’ journey? Your topics should be derived from the answers to these questions. My personal pain point is ticks, so an article on the best ways to avoid these disgusting little bloodsuckers would be very useful.
- Personalize your content. Thanks to the abundance of analytics available to today’s marketers, we’re able to segment customers and target specific groups effectively. If you want to set yourself apart from your competitors, you must produce content that is tailored to these targeted groups. Start by creating detailed buyer personas and then generate content that speaks directly to those personas. Next, deliver your message via their preferred media. Do they search the web before making a purchase decision? If so, where do they look? Is LinkedIn their go-to source for product/service reviews? The more you know about your prospects, the more you can customize your content and its delivery.
- Find some influence. The growing popularity of social media has given rise to new “influencers,” or experts on specific subjects that use these platforms. According to MuseFind, 92% of those surveyed said they trust influencers more than advertisements and celebrity endorsements. So, if you want to give your content a boost, seek out the influencers in your industry and ask them if they will endorse or review your product/service on their blog, social media or other platforms. You can also try a reciprocal approach where you link their blog to your website.
My final piece of advice is this: don’t try to hide medicine in cheese. You know what I’m talking about! Humans have tried this trick with dogs for years – wrapping a pill in some tasty cheese trying to trick us into eating something we don’t want. No one likes to be fooled. So, don’t attempt to disguise promotional content as something educational or useful. If you keep trying to make your audience swallow something they don’t want, eventually they’ll go somewhere else (or leave a nasty mess on your carpet).
It’s not easy to break bad habits, like stealing food or producing promotional content, but it can be done. I promise to keep trying, if you will. (As you can see from the photo, I am exercising heroic self control!)