Spend an hour doing urgent work.
Spend two hours doing necessary work.
Spend three hours doing important work.
In terms of sunk cost, at the end of a product lifecycle, content marketing will cost about the same as a good top-down consultative sales campaign.
Ignoring the length of the sales cycle for the moment, it’s easy to project out how quickly a top-down consultative sales process will begin generating revenue almost from the get-go.
With content marketing, the metrics are less easy to discern at the beginning until you find the content that resonates with your audience.
If your target market is the enterprise at the CIO/CTO/VP level, a dual pronged approach generates the immediate revenue of consultative sales with the longer term, slow-burn benefit of content marketing.
You’re using your credentials to blend in with the herd rather than stand out.
Potential Lead: “Hey Justin, your friend [J] referred us to you. He raves about how you doubled his traffic and reduced the bounce rate. Would you be willing to do the same for us?”
Me: “Sure, it will cost X and take about six months of work.”
Lead: “We were hoping you would just tell us how to do it for free.”
Me: “I’m sorry, I’m not willing to do that.”
Potential Lead: “Well that’s mean of you. You should remove ‘nice guy’ from your signature because your [sic] obviously not.”
The difference between content marketing and consultative sales approaches is that with content marketing you need to be (or appear to be) everywhere at once, all the time, in an on-going process that feeds a constantly hungry machine.
This is scary to most people.
The consultative sales process lets you focus on just one or two key contact points in a select few organizations, working away until you land “the big one.”
The introvert in me has always enjoyed the content marketing approach more than the consultative sales process.
Do I want more people to pay attention?
Or do I want the right people to pay attention?
The work you create is rarely able to do both.
Getting more people to pay attention is usually a race against time.
You’re trying to get enough people to pay attention so that the audience reaches critical mass.
And if you fail to reach that critical mass point, the number of people paying attention falls off rapidly until nobody remains to watch.
You can always get more people to pay attention by spending ever more money.
But you will always be spending money.
Products and services worth talking about attract the attention of the right people.
The kind of people who will tell others about your product or service.
The kind of people that will pay attention even when you are at your best, when you didn’t do a fantastic job that one time, when you are experimenting.
People pay for value.
Even when you give that value away for free.
Paradoxically, the more value you give away for free, the more likely people are to pay for the value you provide.
Case in point: I got hired at a video game company back in 2000 when I was casting around between entrepreneurial endeavours.
I arrived at the interview and got offered a good job within 30 minutes without having to jump through any silly hoops.
Many of the software developers at the company were not going to entertain even interviewing me (hastily thrown together C.V. due to “reasons”) until one of them realised that the software they used to compile their game and load it on to the development machines was written by me, and given away for free, on my website.
And the documentation they used in their day-to-day work to understand the video game console they were writing software for was written by me, and given away for free, on my website.
Many months later we were sat around chatting about doing extra-curricular work and giving it away for free to anybody that wanted it.
Several of them chimed in that they don’t see themselves doing that, it has no value, and what would motivate me to do anything like that.
“It got me this job.” I countered.
Slightly different doesn’t sell.
Slightly different makes us question why we would want to spend $22 more just to get something that is almost the same as something that costs only $3.
The $25 product might be significantly better than the $3 product.
We won’t be able to tell.
Because our sense of product design are generally not trained or attuned to differentiate between two near identical products that are only slightly different.
Packaging tells a story.
Packaging is often the key differentiator between two products that are only slightly different.
Often you will find, the package costs more to design and make than the product it holds.
And we all end up disposing the packaging (most of the time).
But by then, we’ve already heard the story and told ourselves “I like it.”
Paper used to transmit information in the form of books, magazines, science or news introduces friction.
Digital transmission reduces the friction.
We already understand this.
We understand we can reduce the friction by removing as much of the paper as possible.
But when you remove friction, you remove associated costs.
And when associated costs go down, so does the price to the end consumer of the information.
The battle being waged today is that traditional publishers haven’t yet figured out how far away from “free” they need to stay, and still have the perception that what they hold (the information) as having value.
$2 for an ebook can make the information inside be perceived as having no more value than this short blog post.
An author charging $2 shows us he doesn’t value his work.
A publisher charging us $2 indicates a deep discount.
$50 for an ebook makes us (the consumer) question the audacity of the publisher.
When an author self-publishes an ebook, whether the price is free, $2 or $50, we know the money (the majority of it) is going directly to the author.
An author having the audacity to charge $50 for an ebook signals to the consumer “Hey, this is worth it, it’s something special, and I feel you need to pay a significant sum of money to me to access this information.”
When a publisher charges $50 for the same ebook we (the consumers) think “Why are they price gouging us? How much is the author really getting on this sale? 50 cents? A buck?”
Who charges us, and how much, is the signal of whether something holds value.
But also whether we are being over-charged for the product.
Would you rather sell to people who go to book stores to buy their books?
Or the people who don’t go to book stores at all?
Would you rather sell to people who go to a dealership to buy their new car?
Or the people who bought privately?
Would you rather sell to people who buy vintage clothing at a boutique store in SOMA?
Or the people who buy at Old Navy?
You can’t sell to “Everybody who does X” and “Everybody who doesn’t do X” at the same time and certainly never with the same message.
Picking either/or always has to be a decision of “This is my audience.”
Yes, there are people who buy at both, but you still can’t treat them as “Somebody who does X” and at the same time “Somebody who doesn’t do X.”
You cannot charge more for your product (or service) if you only provide the same standard of service (or product design) as everyone else.
Your major margin lays in that last 10%.
If your marketing message is narrow enough, it will alienate a lot of people.
People who won’t buy your product, who will reject you because you don’t say (or sell) what they want.
Narrowly targeted marketing messages will generate a lot of noise, usually by the people who aren’t being targeted.
“I don’t like it.”
“It offends me.”
“They are ignoring me.”
That last statement is usually the most truthful.
People don’t enjoy being ignored, and if your marketing is purposely designed to ignore a demographic, that demographic will make their voice heard.
For the past three years when people ask “Do you have a business card?” my response is “No, just go to Google and type in Justin Lloyd.”
The goal of almost all advertising is to create tension; fear, desire, envy.
These are often short-term strategies that can only work for a limited period of time before you have to change your message to create a new tension.
Eventually, screaming wolf too often to create that tension, will cause people to ignore you.
Good marketing doesn’t need to create tension; good marketing creates love.
If you cannot market your idea internally then how do you expect to market it outside of your organization?
Your marketing, like your product, should be hyper focused on as small an audience as possible.
Marketing is as much about doing something for your product or service as it is talking about your product or service.
Marketing is a system of fuzzy rules and heuristics that you piece together a cohesive message from, Chinese menu style.
Sometimes you want a little of this, and a little of that, and two of those.
Other days, something different.
Everything anybody ever taught you about marketing is mostly bullshit.
It’s bullshit because it works for them, in their situation, at that time.
Good marketing is like good information.
You don’t mind hearing it repeated.
In marketing, if you answer “everyone” to the question “who are you trying to reach?” then you have already failed in your marketing.