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confirms it: We’re failing to create sales engaging social media because we’re building content marketing on an outdated foundation.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?

Author: Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc., where he built the sales team. Today, he is the authority on effective prospecting communications techniques as founder of Communications Edge Inc. (formerly Molander & Associates Inc.) He's been in sales for over 2 decades. He is author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.Jeff is a sales communications coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a means to spark more conversations with customers "from cold," speeding them toward qualification.

10 thoughts on “Why Your Engaging Content Won’t Produce Leads”

  1. I think Jason Falls and Erik Deckers captured this same idea pretty well in their book "No Bullshit Social Media". You need a plan and that includes asking for the sale!

  2. This is an awesome post and it’s something that a lot of people tend to forget about when they are online. It’s great to share stuff but if people don’t know what you want them to do, they won’t do it. Great advice.

  3. I needed to get to your last paragraph, to try to totally understand where you were going with your subject title, Jeff. Forty years ago, I started building Social Marketing experiences; today, the only thing that has changed is the technology communications. And those technologies are most efficiently utilized in Communities. When 500 million folks spend more than 3 hours a day @facebook.com, some marketers MUST totally focus "inside" facebook.com. I am a hardcore direct response marketer, Jeff. I MUST know what it costs to acquire AND maintain a Customer. For every resource I invest, money or time, I must clearly understand what my Return on Resource is. Thanks for your "challenge".
    David (Google knows me as SmallBizDavid).

  4. I think its all one in the same. You need good branding, you need the internet, you need social media and you need a call to action or none of it is worth your time.

  5. Great article Jeff. I absolutely agree. Social media posts and blogs must provide a little helpful information and then give readers an option to download more helpful information. Once they complete the landing page form to download the additional info, you have a lead. Many companies are forgetting the final element of the lead equation.

  6. Jeff, great article!! Couldn’t agree with you more. Being active with social media is a necessity of today’s marketing, but rarely this produces direct leads/sales – rather, it builds awareness and credibility. Unfortunately, the sales people do not always realize that. Look forward to reading your book.

  7. Might this be a semantics debate? What you call solving other peoples’ problems as as selling technique is the engagement being spoken about.

    And, I’m not sure that I agree that marketers are in one of two camps – brand or direct. To be optimized the direct marketing happens in the brand voice and with the brand’s messages. Aren’t they part of the same strategy?

  8. Because there is so much content out there with which to engage, I agree we can’t "waste" a content engagement opportunity without offering a call to action. If you don’t even know if you’ll get their attention again, you’ve got to show them the next rung in the ladder.

  9. Well-written. Sadly enough, too many proponents of SEO and social media pursuit of capitalism read the same book at the library I did all about catch phrases and ways to soft-sell Facebook and Linked In contacts one service or another.

    Many organizations ill go bankrupt by alienating people in their social circles with a bombardment of nonsense because they are misinterpreting its use as you have pointed out.

    You’ll see. When enough orgs go bankrupt with blogs and videos and blasts and every other media channel, direct marketing will still be standing right here.

    Thanks for such a potent, concise article. Corey

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