Content Marketing: Don’t Doom Relationships Before They Start

Content marketing is all the buzz these days. And for sure, content marketing has become a prerequisite to doing business for many, if not most, marketers today. However, some are killing any opportunities they create… before they even get off the ground.

Consider my recent personal experience: a vendor emailed an invitation to download interesting content and less than five minutes after I clicked on the link – before I’d had an opportunity to digest the content – a salesperson was on the phone asking to follow up with me. Then, before my phone hit the receiver from my brief reply through our receptionist that I was unavailable, an email arrived from the same salesperson. “Gee,” I thought. “This guy is either really on the ball, or this company is starving for business.” The thought of the latter started eroding credibility. Strike one.

Less than half an hour later, a different person accessed my direct line, catching me off-guard, and started talking to me about the same content. I’m not feeling too good about this company anymore, and it didn’t help that I could hear call-center voices in the background. OK, now I’m feeling like a number to these people. I’m not feeling very valued. Strike two.

I was actually in the middle of a BtoB Magazine webinar (2013 Content Marketing: Breaking through the Clutter) when that second call came in, so I communicated that it was not a good time. Instead of accepting my response or asking when would be a better time, the caller continued pushing to find out what kind of information I would be interested in receiving. Now, I’m missing content from my webinar. Strike three and Bye-bye!

This was not the first time that I’d been contacted by a content marketer nearly at the instant of content download. It amazes me when I still get the follow up call even after I’ve filled out a download form indicating that I have no immediate interest to take action. The short story is that it’s poor salesmanship. These callers never gave much thought to me. They objectified me in the rush to get to the sale. In the BtoB Magazine webinar (August 2013), Nick Panayi (CSC) said, “Content doesn’t create leads! Content creates relationships that create leads.”

The offending content marketer did not consider the long-term relationship at all. Pouncing on me and then pestering me damaged the company’s credibility. This execution of content marketing turned me into live bait and the marketer into a stalker – not a way to build thought leadership or trust. It also defeated a key value to content marketing in the first place, i.e., to provide a discreet way for prospects to self-educate and self-qualify before having personal contact, in their own way, on their own time. Remember a cardinal rule of content marketing: “Tell, don’t sell.”

According to that BtoB Magazine webinar, B2B companies are spending 21 percent of their marketing budgets on content marketing. I wonder, though, if this includes allocation of as much attention to follow up strategy as to content creation and distribution. The takeaway I offer is that if you are going to be involved in content marketing, think about what you do after distributing your content. Focus on being authentic in building relationships.

Make a plan to court those who express interest. By all means, include them in automated drip campaigns. Pay attention to analytics showing who is responding to your content and what are they doing after initial download. Schedule subsequent communications… with realistic timing. Be sure that follow-up is personal, appropriate, well-timed and considerate. If you do get a personal connection, listen to what your contact is saying. There is no value in quality content marketing if the quality of follow through does not match it.

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