The Selflessly Selfish Pursuit of Content MarketingJanuary 7, 2020
In 2004, Content Marketing was a blip on the radar of marketing strategy. Now, with an intensely competitive and growing market, people are realizing they are being hunted, cookied, stuffed into segments, analyzed, and marketed to – and they don’t like it. Companies are looking for different and unique ways to communicate with customers that don’t annoy them. Enter Content Marketing, far from new but still highly underutilized given its proven effectiveness.
Marketing is Selfish
Marketing is a selfish endeavor. You’re trying to sell something – your something – and everyone knows it. They know it so much that in most cases they’ll just stop listening.
Imagine if you had a friend that constantly talked about his bird watching trips. It’s an interesting topic to some, but if you’re not an avid bird watcher, after the fourth one-way conversation you’ll start to tune him out.
Now imagine interrupting a wedding reception to give a long lecture about modern birding techniques.
Sounds ridiculous, right? Unfortunately, this is how most marketing efforts are done.
Conversely, let’s say that you finally discovered the joy of birding and want to know where the best place to spot the adorable Snowy Egret near Los Angeles is. In that case, you’d call or text your friend, the bird watching expert. A few other friends join in on the action who also want to know the best bird watching locations. You consult the bird watching expert and ask if he could show them around and maybe teach them some things along the way. Instead, the expert refers them to his YouTube channel.
Now all the bird watchers need to buy birding equipment, so they go into a sporting goods store and purchase a few pairs of binoculars. The store manager, curious asks why they are purchasing so many binoculars finds out they were referred by the bird watching expert who then asks the bird watching expert to promote his store on his YouTube channel.
Everyone gets what they want – the sporting goods manager increases company revenue, birding enthusiasts get useful information and the bird watching expert gets to talk about bird watching while getting a steady stream of income from advertisement.
That is the essence of Content Marketing – engaging interested people with helpful information.
What successful marketers have realized is that most people don’t care about their product or brand. They care about what they already care about – themselves, their problems, and their interests.
Rather than trying to encourage interest by interrupting with information, Content Marketing intercepts and engages interest by providing useful and relevant information.
Content marketing is still selfish, but it attempts to provide instead of compelling.
It’s a much more selfless selfishness.
Being a Bother vs. Being Useful
At every family event my father-in-law grills the meat, fills the coolers and pitches the E-Z UPs while his brothers-in-law burn the meat, spill the beer and break the E-Z UPs.
It’s not that his brothers are incompetent, it’s just that my father-in-law is serious about barbeques and makes sure the things he is responsible for are done right. It’s important to him that he is perceived as the expert. When the family members want something done, they go to him – not his brothers.
The brothers like barbeques, but they are more interested in helping themselves to the food and beer than helping others enjoy the barbeque – and everyone knows it.
Like my father-in-law, great content marketing is useful among all else. Seeking to be the expert, it’s a reference and guide for others in the industry who are looking to solve their problems.
A great content marketing piece provides before it promotes.
John Deere created The Furrow almost 120 years ago and has been publishing relevant content ever since. Considered one of the first pieces of content marketing, The Furrow simply provides content that interests famers. As far as the reader is concerned, it is publication that is only connected to John Deere because they produce it. It does not attempt to be promotional, boast superiority over other products, or offer clearance deals. It exists to be useful and it will continue to be whether you own a John Deere product or not.
New readers of The Furrow will be influenced by the long-standing publication. There is no question in anyone’s mind that writing for 120 years about farming makes you a farming expert.
Content marketing can be delivered regularly and in abundance because it will always be easier to write about a market or industry then to write about a product, no matter how great it is.
An Expert of the Craft
Your audience knows what they like and what brings them value. It is not necessary, or even worth the time to try interest them in something they are not. Whoever can produce relevant, useful, and consistent content will establish themselves as an industry expert. Whoever is the expert will never have to worry about getting a customer’s attention. The pursuit of Content Marketing isn’t quick and easy, but it’s simple and can be highly rewarding.