In the first post in this series we looked into the primary reason old school “hit the phones” and “pound the pavement” cold calling tactics aren’t working well any more.
Sales managers are gradually coming to the realization that blogging and social media are the new way to generate leads, but they insist on having their sales team populate posts with company and product marketing propaganda. Old habits die hard and they find it difficult to believe that interrupting people’s lives by rudely shoving their message in peoples' face, and “always be closing”, don’t work in blog and social media content.
Late in November, I came across two approaches to marketing a car battery with big 'cold cranking' amps. The difference in the two approaches illustrates what works today, and contrasts it with the old way of advertising.
I subscribe to quite a few blog feeds in the Feedly app on my iPad. One of the blogs I follow provides useful automotive, household and other tips. It’s valuable information and I often share their posts with my own readers.
One of the posts showed a photo of a woman stranded in her car at night, face lit by the dim light of her flashlight. The windows were iced up and she looked cold and frightened. The title also caught my eye because it promised 8 simple things I could do to keep myself from being stranded this winter.
I’m what friends and family would call “a car guy,” but I felt I could do with a quick refresher. The article was extremely useful for people in areas where temperatures dip below freezing. It fully delivered on the promised 8 simple tips and provided a few bonus recommendations as well, like keeping an automotive cell phone charger in the glove box, and spare jacket, snow shovel and flares in the trunk.
The article was all about me, the reader. Having my battery checked, and replacing it with one with a high cold cranking amps (CCA) rating if needed, was only one of the twelve helpful tips.
At the bottom of the post there was a field that enabled me to subscribe to email updates or the RSS blog feed. There were a few links to related posts on other websites, and two internal links: one to a page on selecting snow tires and the other to a page on choosing the best winter battery. The calls to action were subtle and unoffensive. I clicked the link to the battery page and noted the make and model. I also noticed that this helpful blog was provided courtesy of a major auto parts retailer. I never suspected.
They had landed me months ago as a subscriber to their feed. And now I shared the valuable post with my readers. I was concerned about their safety during the cold winter months and believed they would value the heads up. And I was considering dashing off a quick email to my mother and sister. I didn’t want them to be the frightened, shivering women stranded beside the road on a dark night.
The numbers marketers use vary somewhat, but it takes somewhere between 3 and 7 minimal exposures to a product or service before a buyer considers taking any action. For me, this was the second exposure to this brand of battery. If my battery conked out in the next month or two, I would be more inclined to purchase theirs than any other. Why? Because they took the time to be helpful, rather than just trying to sell me something.
Curious, I located them in Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The posts included the same photo and title as the blog post. And they had been liked, retweeted and +1’d many times.
Before leaving, I downloaded their free ebook: “6 Things You Can Do to Significantly Increase the Life of Your Car", joining their mailing list and giving them permission to gently influence my future buying decisions through helpful emails.
A few days later I was annoyed to find a spam email in my email inbox advertising car batteries from another provider. Somehow they’d written the email very carefully and it passed through my anti-spam software. Bastards! I flagged it as spam and deleted the message with disdain. Seconds later, a blog post idea began to form in my mind, so I retrieved it from the trash folder.
The message was essentially an email brochure. At the top was a heavily Photoshopped image of a car battery, with deep blue background, shrouded in a halo of lightning... straight from the battery manufacturer's website. The copywriter had written both features and benefits, so it wasn’t half bad marketing copy. (Too bad it wasn't on a "sales" page on their website.)
But here’s the thing… I don’t need a car battery today. I did not request this information. These inconsiderate assholes interrupted my busy day to shove a spam ad in my face. Did they influence my future purchasing decision? Hell yeah, but in a very negative way. The last battery I would ever buy would now be theirs.
I was curious, so I checked out the company’s blog. Guess what I found as the last post? Same damn ad. I checked their social media channels; same ad again. Amazing! Why would anyone who did not have a dead battery waste their time reading a "display ad" blog post?
No surprise, there were no comments on the blog posts and not a single like, retweet or share. Do you think anyone subscribes to their blog? Can you imagine anyone deliberately adding to the useless marketing spam in their inbox?
The consistent oversell in blogging and social media is the primary reason most efforts fail. David Ogilvy's mantra, back in the 50's and 60's, "We sell, or else," translates into very ineffective blogging and social media today. Times have changed.
If you're focusing on the product, instead of the prospect, you're doing it wrong.
- Tyson Zahner
If your SEO (search engine optimization consultant) is telling you that converting manufacturers’ marketing materials into posts and white papers is getting it done, because it presents keywords to the search engines, the strategy is very shortsighted. Google notices when you have a high bounce rate, and nobody is reading your useless posts or sharing your content. They don’t reward thin or "all about me" content, and bragging about what you sell, with top rankings.
Always ask yourself, “Is this post ridiculously valuable to my readers? Will their life be better in some way after they've read it? Will they learn something? Will it inspire? Is it so good they’ll feel compelled to immediately share it?”
In the third post in this series I’ll cover the distribution and promotion of your valuable blog content.
Cole Wiebe helps brands and professionals grow their influence and value online; so they can “out content”™ their competition. Cole is a content strategist, content writer, conversion copywriter and online marketing coach.