What's the Real Purpose of Content Marketing?
What do I mean by a content marketing strategy?
First, you have to know the goal. What’s the goal? The goal is to attract targeted prospects to you. The popular internet jargon for this is to drive traffic. But driving traffic reminds me of the old westerns that I used to watch as a kid. There would be 1000 head of cattle on the plains, and the cowboys would ride up on all sides, and force them through a tiny little opening into a pen somewhere. And I don’t think that image is too far off the mark, do you? If your idea is to find techniques that will compel masses of people to your squeeze page, then they are in effect nothing more than virtual cattle.
Obviously your prospects are much more than that. They are real people with real problems. They want your help.
That means that you want to attract them rather than to drive them. In other words, it would be something that they want to do – rather than something that they feel they have to do.
What do you suppose makes you attractive to your prospect? The short answer is that it’s your expertise. They want to know that you can solve their problems more effectively than anyone else in the universe. In fact, that’s what they’re looking for. They’re looking for an expert. That means that if you want them to choose you, then you have to not only be the expert, but you have to be seen as that expert.
I want to be sure that you understand this distinction, because it’s critical.
No doubt already you’re an expert. You may even be the best in the world. But if nobody knows that you are, then you’re no more effective than the person who isn’t. You have to be the expert, but you also have to make sure that they know it as well.
In fact, they need to feel that you’re the expert that they’ve been looking for.
Let me give you an example.
There’s a standard rule for writing fiction. It says: show, don’t tell. Telling means what it says. You simply give me a fact.
One of the most famous examples of how not to do this is contained in this sentence. It was a dark and stormy night. This is a cliché among people that write fiction. I’ve seen it in books before. Apparently this was a sentence or something that inexperienced fiction writers used to put in there. And it’s become something that’s so common that we refer to it all the time. It’s a bit like saying that when we’re teaching people online, we say look, if you want to train your dog, it’s that kind of thing. It’s a really common example given when teaching internet marketing. And, of course, hardly anybody wants to train their dog. And fiction writers know that starting off their book that it was a dark and stormy night is not probably a good idea.
Think about it. You read a statement, “it was a dark and stormy night.” That sentence begs the question. How do I know it was a dark and stormy night? The answer is, you just told me. Showing on the other hand describes what happens in such a way that you feel it. You draw that conclusion. I don’t have to tell you because it has engaged your emotions. So for example, instead of saying that the night was dark and stormy, you could say that it was a moonless night, you’re up to your ankles in water, your hat blew off, and the rain stung your face like icicles. That’s showing. When you read that, it makes you want to sit a bit closer to your fireplace, or pull the blanket a little tighter over you.
I’m sure that you’ve seen websites where you’re told how great and marvelous the site owner was. They all say that they care about customers, that they’re passionate about what they do, that they’re there to serve your, that they adhere to the highest standards, they strive for quality, and all the rest of it. But all they’re doing is telling you. And none of us likes to be told anything.
When I was in the Air Force, it was quite common to be told that some new commander was a people person. My answer always was, if he really is, then no one will have to tell me. It will be obvious. If it was true, then I would simply know by watching what he did. And, I didn’t need somebody to tell me.
It’s well known that the best way to get somebody to do what you want is to make them think it was their idea. And one way to do that is by showing them the facts and then letting them come to their own conclusions. That’s exactly what you do, that’s exactly how you show your expertise to your prospects. You demonstrate it by doing what experts do. Then when your prospects see what you’ve done, then they conclude that you are the expert you claim to be. But they’ll never believe it if you just tell them.
Your content marketing strategy helps to show your prospects that you’re an expert so they draw the conclusion themselves.