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Content Marketing, Want To Be Successful With it? Teach, Don’t Sell

24 Feb. 16
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Today’s consumers block out online marketing and sales content, but they respond to content marketing “Teach, Don’t Sell” approach.

But isn’t the whole point of marketing to sell? If you’re not selling, are you even marketing?

Even when you’re creating educational content, you are still marketing. You’re just marketing the content, not your products and services. You’re still selling those products and services, but the selling is just way in the background. Way, way in the background.

On the front end, you’re offering terrific, free content. The point of your marketing – your content marketing – is to build an audience that consumes and shares that content.

But why do that at all?

Here’s the part you might not like hearing. You teach instead of sell, because frankly, nobody really cares about your marketing.

Unfortunately, according to the 2016 State of Small Business Report, 45% of small businesses are using their content marketing and accompanying social media to promote specific products or services, and 38% use them to share information about promotions, sales or discounts.

It’s OK to use your logo on content, but don’t mention how to buy anything. Ideally, don’t even mention what products or services you offer.

As you know, the average consumer is fed up with advertising. They don’t want to see or hear any more of it. You can get past those marketing blockers if you offer people great, useful, engaging information and refrain from your sales pitch.

1) Don’t include a call to action that asks them to buy.

You may include a call to action that prompts them to see another piece of content. If you are in the habit of regularly publishing useful content, you may ask them to sign up for an email newsletter,

2) Tell them what they want to know, not what you want to tell them.

Your customers like features, but what they really want is benefits. Benefits would be how they can get home half an hour earlier because your product is so fast, or how they can zip up a mountain with your gear because it is so light.

3) Be generous.

People may react negatively to marketing, but they respond positively to generosity. Nothing builds trust like consistent, generous, honest and useful content.

It means sending out more educational emails than promotional emails. Some say the best ratio is four “gives” to every “take.” Others suggest an even higher ratio.

This approach is common in social media, too. The best practice is to post other people’s content significantly more than you post your own. Only 5 to 10% of the content you share should be self-promotional; the rest should be compelling information and resources.

If you’ve been selling all your life, it can be hard to stop. There’s a strong urge to at least mention what you offer even when you’re publishing educational content, but the biggest benefit of content marketing is to get past your audience’s marketing blockers – to show you are trustworthy and worth their attention. Every time you try to sell to them, you compromise that trust. You’re actually diluting your own work.

So don’t sell.

Teach.

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