Content Marketing is The Big Thing right now. Everybody wants to write a book about it. Companies want to spend millions on it.
Just like previous marketing tsunamis – SEO, digital advertising and social media – content marketing has a “marketing must-do.”
As companies begin to adopt content marketing, they run into a few common obstacles:
- The Red-Headed Stepchild: “Why are people ignoring our content?”
- The Big Chill: “Why isn’t our content getting more engagement and shares?”
- The Content Treadmill: “How do we create enough content to stay in front of people frequently?”
- Curationophobia: “If we curate content, we lose traffic to other websites!”
But the biggest problem is one that most of them are not yet thinking about.
The Revenue Black Hole: “Why isn’t this content creating sales?”
I’ve been in the content creation game since 1999. And I’ve created content for all kinds of goals: awareness, traffic, leads and sales.
What I’ve found is that it is immensely tempting to try to create content that gets buzz and traffic and shares.
You see other LinkedIn posts with 20,000 views- you want that too. You see Buzzfeed getting 20,000 shares on a post- you get buzz envy.
Buzz-Envy: “How can we go viral like they did?”
Buzzy viral content does not necessarily create sales. The most viral content is funny or weird or tear-jerking; but it doesn’t make you more likely to buy something.
Yes, there are exceptions. There are a handful of examples that contradict this, like Blendtech or Old Spice (but you’ll find they are not only viral- they also make a strong point about the product).
If you take a look at the most shared types of blog posts (for example, a “Where Should You Actually Live?” quiz) and try to think about how you’d create one for your business (for example, a “When Should You Actually File Your Taxes” quiz), you’ll see that your content doesn’t fit the buzz formula, and it’s just a distraction…
The most SHARED posts in the least year, according to BuzzSumo:
- 20 Reasons Why Your Big Sister Is The Greatest Gift Your Parents Gave You (2.3 million shares)
- The 46 Most Brilliant Life Hacks Every Human Being Needs To Make Life Easier (2.0 million shares)
- Is Drinking Wine Better Than Going To The Gym? According To Scientists, Yes! (1.8 million shares)
- Do You ACTUALLY Know The Lyrics To The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? (1.8 million shares)
- Can You Pass The Psychopath Test? (1.7 million shares)
Are any of those relevant to what you ACTUALLY sell? Unlikely.
(Are they relevant to anything anybody sells? Maybe a wine company could use #3… assuming they wouldn’t get sued by somebody for taking that position. If that’s not a risk there, then I would go for it- because you don’t have to say no to shares if it’s also going to help you sell.)
Those are fine posts for Buzzfeed and Playbuzz, who make money on display ads. But not for most other businesses.
One of my most popular blog posts in the last year was “The 20 Most Viral Posts on the Internet And Yes They’re Shocking.” It was buzzfeedy. It brought in some email signups, but no business inquiries.
And although I can’t track it currently, I would bet those email subscribers are some of the least likely ones to buy from me.
Why? Because that blog post topic does nothing to QUALIFY someone as my buyer or to PERSUADE them to buy. I sell audits and advertising management and content creation. We do help people with Facebook posting and getting more shares, but that’s as close as that post comes to our services, and not even one of our most popular services (it turns out most companies don’t realize how much of a problem they have with their posts- or how much better their results could be- so it’s not a pain point currently).
Ironically, within a year of posting “The 20 Most Viral Posts on the Internet And Yes They’re Shocking,” I’m teaching that the most viral posts may be the least profitable.
I got sucked into two TRAPS:
- Traffic-for-traffic’s sake, and
- “Look at my big share numbers!”
I made a decision a couple months back to only write posts I thought might make people buy from me.
Compare “The 20 Most Viral Posts on the Internet And Yes They’re Shocking” to my more recent posts:
- 5 Social Media Tips for Meeting & Event Planners: This provides value to one of my prospect audiences… people who can make the decision to hire me as a speaker, or at least get me into the consideration set. This post is an excuse to get in front of that audience. In exchange for their attention, I’m helping them get better results with their events.
- 11 Reasons Your Site Redesigns Steal Your Traffic – And How To Prevent That: This establishes or solidifies me (depending on how well the reader knows my SEO background) as an SEO expert, and plays on fear of loss. Now when a business moves toward a redesign they may recall my warnings and hire me to consult during the process.
- 5 Sales Funnel Mistakes That Are Killing Your Business: Similarly, this alerts the brain that if revenue or profits aren’t ideal, maybe they’re making one of these mistakes. People HAVE to know what those mistakes are and then feel confident they aren’t making any. If they are, they may hire me to help out.
With those last three blog posts, there’s a PLAUSIBLE REASON they might lead to sales.
I’m not writing about wine or psychopaths just to get page views and sell ads. I’m selling valuable consulting services, keynotes and trainings, so my content needs to reflect that.
Before you create anymore content, ask yourself questions like:
- How does this TOPIC relate to what we actually SELL?
- Why do we think this will make someone more likely to BUY?
- Does it position us better? Does it establish us as the authority? Does it increase trust in our brand?
And post stuff that makes people more likely to buy from you!
There’s nothing wrong with getting shares and going viral. Just make sure you go viral with something that makes people more likely to buy from you.
Brian Carter is a popular business expert and keynote speaker with Fortune 500 clients like NBC, Microsoft and Humana as well as small businesses. He delivers motivational keynotes with practical takeaways with the comedic flair of his stand up comedy background. His agency, The Brian Carter Group, creates marketing that excites customers and increases brand visibility, sales and loyalty. Brian is a bestselling author you’ve probably seen on Bloomberg TV or in Inc, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. He has over 250,000 online fans and reaches over 3 million people per year.