The Most Powerful Content Marketing Lesson Learned (That Nobody Is Talking About)

In the last few years, of what’s being called online content marketing, what have we learned? When all the blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, podcasts and YouTube videos have been produced, what can we say we learned, took action on and improved? The single most important lesson learned for me, and in my research, has been how engaging customers should never be the goal. Instead, engagement is the starting point. It’s an open door to get customers to respond to you, your brand.

In the last few years, of what’s being called online content marketing, what have we learned? When all the blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, podcasts and YouTube videos have been produced, what can we say we learned, took action on and improved?

The single most important lesson learned for me, and in my research, has been how engaging customers should never be the goal. Instead, engagement is the starting point. It’s an open door to get customers to respond to you, your brand.

Engagement has so many of us so wrapped up that we’re failing to realize a key point: Engaging is merely a chance to enter into a journey with a prospect; a trip toward whatever it is they need, desire, hope for or need to avoid.

Engagement should be (if it’s to be effective) the start of a series of “fair exchanges” that guides prospective buyers toward, or away from, what you’re selling.

If it’s not? You’re just engaging for the sake of engaging. You’re not generating, nurturing and closing leads.

Be Provocative to Generate Response
Most marketers and sellers using blogs, video, YouTube, LinkedIn and such in their online content marketing strategy think of customer engagement as a goal. The finish line. But that’s not going to help you get customers to buy online.

Successfully engaging with customers is an opportunity to generate response from them. Actually selling on social media means being thought provoker-not just a thought leader.

You’ve got to get customers to do something-to begin a journey toward converting to a lead.

Think of it this way:

  • Are you giving customers a reason to talk to you on LinkedIn? A real, compelling reason.
  • Are your blogs so bold they provoke readers to call or email you or sign-up for an offer?

Is whatever you’re doing on social media provoking customers to contact you-so your sales team can help them more clearly understand the thought you just provoked?

Don’t Settle for Engagement
Do you have honestly new knowledge or a new product that can benefit customers in exciting, new ways? Then why would you settle for floating your thoughts out there and hoping to be dubbed a leader?

Does getting your content shared mean that much to you … more than getting leads does?

I realize for some of you the answer will be yes! To those readers I say this: Instead why not give customers a reason to act on the impulse your thoughts can create? This way prospects take action on doing something they really need and want to do … AND create a lead for yourself.

Tempt Prospects to Act
If you watch what I do in my online training business I’m always tempting prospects to trade their contact information for a better way… or tips on avoiding risks.

I’m teasing prospects into taking an action that I know they want to take.

For example, I like to reveal a small part of a hidden opportunity to them on my YouTube videos.

So … you can engage customers and hope that focused conversation gets going or you can cause it directly.

It all starts with realizing engagement is not the goal and knowing how to nurture a lead who isn’t ready to talk about your product or services yet.

So think of engagement as the first step to creating response. If you do you’ll start making social media sell for you more often.

Good luck and see you in comments below! Feel free to disagree with me, share your successes with this technique, etc.

Why Your Engaging Content Won’t Produce Leads

The ugly truth is, for many of us, engaging customers creates profitless prosperity—impressive marketing statistics that don’t ultimately, directly help generate leads and sales. Engagement is creating momentary value that is aloof from any kind of sales lead management process. Yet businesses who do create sales using social selling know something the rest of us don’t. Let’s find out what that something is.

The ugly truth is, for many of us, engaging customers creates profitless prosperity—impressive marketing statistics that don’t ultimately, directly help generate leads and sales. Engagement is creating momentary value that is aloof from any kind of sales lead management process. Yet businesses who do create sales using social selling know something the rest of us don’t. Let’s find out what that something is.

Why We’re Failing to Sell with Engagement
For years now, we’ve been rising each morning, downing our coffee and suffering through questions like, “How do I know what to blog each day?” And the biggie, “How do I become engaging enough to produce leads and sales?”

Most of us are busy producing engaging content on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and other social media. But in the end, even our most engaging blogs, YouTube videos and other forms of online publication fail to produce leads and sales. At best, sales are blindly attributed to content as part of a mass media branding success using fuzzy math. Why?

My on-going research confirms it: We’re failing to create sales engaging social media because we’re building content marketing on an outdated foundation. We’re clinging to mass media advertising ideas and values. Instead, we should be exploiting direct response marketing tactics.

“Marketers often come from two distinct backgrounds,” says best-selling author and IBM distinguished engineer Mike Moran.

“Brand marketers are the ones whose work you see on TV. They are all about branding, brand image, brand awareness—use whatever word you want—and their success has made Coca-Cola and many other consumer products into household names. Direct marketers are decidedly less sexy … constantly searching for the next idea that increases response. They are all about sales, and couldn’t care less about brand image as long as the cash register rings.”

Moran says engagement marketers with an interest in driving sales have much to learn from the practice of direct response marketing. Again, it’s not about influencing or leading thought, it’s about being a thought provoker.

How to Always Make the Sale
Why do so many of us pursue getting “liked” on Facebook or followed on Twitter? Because of this single idea: getting a lot of customers’ attention (reach) over and over (frequency) is enough to earn a sale … somehow, sometime. This is how advertising works.

Today’s best social sellers do not believe for a minute that exposure to engaging content will result in a sale. They have no faith that it will produce a lead. Rather, they believe in, and execute on, carefully mixing in calls-to-action. The content they create solves customers’ problems or vividly demonstrates (proves … think “infomercial”) compelling experiences relating to their service.

The best way to sell on Facebook is to solve customers’ problems (yes “for free”) in ways that earn trust and ultimately help them navigate their way toward your paid products and services. And by the way, I’m not saying attention or branding doesn’t matter. It does. I’m simply saying it’s not enough. Stopping at earning customers fleeting attention is a sure-fire losing strategy online.

I say avoid getting sucked into the profitless prosperity black hole by thinking in terms of direct response marketing when engaging with social media and content marketing. What do you think?