We’re all wise to the ways of marketers. We’re all wary of the hidden ask; we’re all looking for the hidden pitch—or the one to come just after we’ve lowered our guard.
So why, as brands and businesses, would we ever try to hide, or disguise what we’re doing with content marketing?
This is really what we’re talking about these days when we talk about authenticity in marketing. Being authentic is being transparent about who you are. It’s coming clean, and, saying:
I’m a brand with something to sell, sure. I also have value to offer. I’m going to offer that to you here, in the hope that you’ll see and appreciate that value. We can then go from there.
Here are a few ways to do just that.
Content marketing is a long game—not a quick sell. If you have any kind of hard-sell language in your content, your audience will pick up on it, and tune out. This is why, instead of trying to write appealing sales copy, you’re better off focusing on the value the content provides the reader. Is it informative? Entertaining? What problem does it solve or address? When you’re providing valuable content, rather than trying to get your readers to buy something, you’re establishing a relationship you can grow.
This may just be the toughest advice to take, but establishing and using a consistent voice and tone in your marketing that truly expresses your brand’s values and attitudes is critically important. If it ever looks like you’re changing your message, tone, or stance just to get more views or sales, you’re going to lose trust—and your audience.
While we might all wish we could have universal appeal, that ain’t the way the world works. There will always be people for whom you are not a good fit. So instead of bending over backwards not to alienate someone, focus on delivering content to the audience you can most benefit–and who can most benefit you. There’s no need to be dismissive of those outside of that group, mind you; just let everyone, up front, know what you’re about. Then let them decide.
Ah, Aretha. She knew that a little bit of respect goes a long way in life. You might imagine that cutting down the competition will give you a kind of punk rock appeal, but it’s a short-term effect at best, and in the long term can make you seem small, and even nasty. This goes quadruple for any interactions with members of your audience (either by answering comments or questions in follow-up content, or when you’re on social media or a comment section). It costs you very little to be respectful, and it can pay serious dividends. Plus it’s just decent.
Some businesses try to have their cake and eat it, too. But if you want to appear authentic, you have to be authentic and honest—and you can’t turn that off when it gets inconvenient. If you are honest about the times are not so great, or when things get tense, that sends a message that you are really who you claim to be, and that you’re not going to bend or break when things get rough. People trust people who can be honest when they have hard times, too. And trust is a very good thing in the content business.
Talk to us if you’re interested in examining your approach to content marketing. Ours is pretty straightforward: we want to create better conversations. No hard sell. 🙂