My friend David Meerman Scott* likes to encourage people to quit their jobs.
David’s been thinking, writing and speaking insightfully about content, Web marketing and social media for a while now. He seems to relish, in the midst of a speech or one of his books, making this only half-joking observation:
You might need to quit your job.
He’s not directing this advice to just anyone, mind you. He reserves it for aspiring social-media and content marketers. And not even for all of them. Specifically, for those frustrated by their inability to convince higher-ups that their organizations must get on the content/social media train.
If that describes your situation, and David’s advice seems like the only remaining option, don’t send that resignation e-mail just yet.
I spend a lot of time talking with people about the power of branded content. The eyes-glazed quotient can still be fairly high. Granted, that might mean I need to work on my elevator speech. Or, it could be we’re all still searching for easy-to-grasp analogies or similes by which to explain (and understand) why content marketing is such a breakthrough, yet grounded and logical, approach.
Here are three to consider. If they make sense, try them on a colleague or neighbor, and then your boss, before you tender that resignation.
Content marketing is like…
Putting AAAA in front of your name (only 180 degrees better).
If you’re like me, you’ll simply never call a duct cleaner or locksmith that pulls this stunt. It puts them at or near the head of the Yellow Pages listings, sure. But it also feels shady, even slimy. Which means I won’t call, because my trust level is zero. Give me an authentic sounding brand and value proposition any day — even one that starts with Z.
Today people use the Web as they once did the Yellow Pages. To get atop search results in your category, you can do one of two things:
Pay your way. Or, produce fresh, relevant content that people want to consume — and that search engines will notice.
In other words, for brand credibility and authenticity, content marketing is the exact opposite of tricking your way up the Yellow Pages listings. Yet, when the goal is to be found and contacted, content also exerts the desired updraft effect.
Hosting the Chamber of Commerce after-hours event.
Technology aside, there isn’t much difference between organizing a LinkedIn discussion group or an online community and hosting the chamber members at your office or factory. The same goes for publishing a great value-adding magazine, newsletter or blog.
Content marketing, done well, congregates customers and potential customers for networking, learning, even fun — and does so in a soft-sell, value-adding way. You’re the conversation starter and the gracious host. At night’s end, you get to collect all the “thank yous” and “I didn’t know your business did this!” exclamations. And you don’t even have to spring for snacks and soda.
Lending top employees to your customers.
You’ve heard of the “loaned executive” concept? Where a supplier and a customer are in such symbiosis that the supplier temporarily loans a key manager or technician to jump start an initiative or fill in where the client is short staffed.
Content is kind of like that. Only, instead of sharing human capital, you’re sharing other forms of value and support. Often information. Which usually means you can share with many more clients and potential clients, and do so without affecting your staffing or operations.
Meanwhile, though, you’re showing extra-mile willingness and ability to think so hard and smart about your customer — and their customer, their needs, the market in which they operate — that you’re serving up insights and solutions before they’ve even asked for a loan.
Search-ability. Community. Thought leadership grounded in customer insights. At the core, isn’t that what content marketing is all about?
Or, maybe you’ve got a better analogy. If so, by all means post a comment.
If not… well, there’s always David’s advice to consider.
- If you don’t know David, you’ll want to know his work. He’s written a best seller, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and he’s just out with what’s likely to be another, World Wide Rave. Find him at www.webinknow.com.