Read this. Or don't.

All day every day, we are bombarded by promotional messages. When you head to a ballgame or concert, chances are you’re going to a place with a name like Staples Center, St. Pete Times Forum or, gods help us, the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheater. We consume free content online, but only because our every action is sold to marketers who direct ever more personalized advertising in our directions.

As a result, we’ve become pretty much blind to all of the overt marketing messages we face every day. According to marketing juggernauts HubSpot, the average person sees over 1,700 banner ads every month, but, they’re more likely to complete Navy Seal training than they are to click one. And, when you wind up on a page with tossed together, heavily promotional “localized” content, you probably hit the back button before you’ve read a couple of lines.

The digital marketing world is obsessed with quick conversions. Because you can access data instantly, you want to see those numbers change in front of your eyes. But, successful marketing is more like growing a tree than planting bamboo. To win the long game, your content marketing needs to be divorced from any ambitions to get immediate conversions. The winners of the content game will:

1. Forget the promotional message. Did you open your eyes this morning and think, “gee, I’d really love to increase my HVAC guy’s marketing ROI.” Because, why would you? All those details are important to him but have nothing to do with your life. (Unless you’re also his marketing pro. In that case, carry on.) Your customers are no different. They spend their time thinking about their own personal concerns. Your latest promo or your growth into a new market isn’t really of concern to them.

2. Provide content that is actual useful and interesting to your audience. This one should be a no-brainer. If you sell suitcases, commission content about travel. Lawncare companies can talk about how to recognize common lawn pests. Think about the questions that your potential customers have and do your best to answer them in a friendly and helpful way.

3. Don’t worry about giving away too much. A lot of people doing marketing online feel that their content should position their product as the answer to customers’ needs. But, this can be a self-defeating approach. First, it’s often disingenuous. While your product is an answer, there’s obviously some self-interest at play when you suggest it as the sole solution. Instead, don’t be afraid to give options, including potential competitors and DIY choices. In many cases, people will discover that the process is more involved or time consuming than they’d thought and decide to hire a pro (you) after all.

4. Be consistent, but don’t pile it on. If you commission too much content, a few different outcomes are possible: you’ll wind up overspending and never getting the full value from the content on your site. The content will be poorly optimized for your needs and won’t get read by surfers. Or, if you economize, it will be poor quality and serve no purpose beyond a temporary search engine ranking bump. Content producers often find that their best-performing posts continue to deliver leads months or even years after they’re posted. Do your best to make every post quality, even if it means posting less.

When you calm down and stop worrying about instant conversions, you open up the door for longer, more satisfying customer relationships. Take the slow way, and you’ll have better content that converts well over time, and less of a chance of turning prospects off.


Lara Stewart
Lara is a freelance writer and marketer who focuses on digital marketing, personal finance, health and wellness and entertainment. Hire her to write blog posts, articles, ebooks and white papers through her website, The Small Business Blogger.

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