Hook, Line & Whitepaper: Why Content Needs to Know Its Place

I’m not sure why content is suddenly all that. Good B2B marketers have been flinging whitepapers, worksheets, calculators and webinars into the ether for years. I suppose we like content again because now we can measure the stuff we previously guessed at like who reads it, how they got it and how they ended up getting it when they didn’t know they wanted it.

Content is also a big deal these days because it’s much cheaper to produce graphics and videos than previously, and the cost of distribution is extremely low when you aren’t killing trees and mailing things. Truly this is content’s Golden Age.

But at the risk of launching a floatie into the punchbowl at the Content Cotillion, I’m wondering if we’re forgetting why we do content in the first place. Here’s a hint: to sell things. All that stuff about thought leadership, educated markets, solution selling and lead nurturing is well and fine, but if it isn’t paying the bills, it isn’t working.

More and more, I suspect, we are generating demand for content, and not for our products. Since a day without a metaphor is like a day without, well, something else, we should think about fishing. (Fishing is the universal metaphor for everything.)Hook, Line & Whitepaper: Why Content Needs to Know Its Place image rome via di propagandaHook, Line & Whitepaper: Why Content Needs to Know Its Place

For a lot of marketers, content is the struggling thing slowly drowning on the end of the hook. But our Sales Squirrels aren’t helped when they reel in a soggy infographic. Sure, it’s a source of fibre, but it’s the commission-free kind of fibre.

Sales people need some lean protein in the form of a lead that has a sharp thing stuck in its cheek. This makes sales happy, and a properly played lead is usually quite willing to pay to have the hook removed.

Content, then, is not bait. Bait is a discount or a free toaster. Content is also not the hook. Anybody who gives you money solely on the basis of a case study, is an idiot and should be released back into the wild like one of those not-terribly-bright sunfish you catch over and over again for an entire day.

Your content isn’t the bobber either. The bobber’s job is to be red and white and stop the whole mess from going straight to the bottom. We’ll call that your funnel strategy.

Your content is the sinker. That would be the bit of lead you attach to the line to stop, your hook and miserable bait from floating to the surface, out of reach of the fish. The trick, of course, is to put just the right size of sinker on the line. A big heavy research study too far down the funnel, can force the whole transaction into the muck at the bottom. Too light a piece of content, and you’ll end up watching your credibility get snagged in the weeds.

Now is a good time to go do a content audit, and match all that pretty stuff to the sales funnel to ensure you’re generating demand for things that bring revenue instead of things that bring cost.

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