In the stone ages of marketing, savvy and educated consumer marketing professionals cranked out slogans, taglines and clever plays on words, then made them come to life on paper, radio and television and distributed them ad nauseam.  Their B2B counterparts crafted copy that detailed benefits and advantages galore, as if the potential buyer had no choice and would suffer great disappointment if their product was not purchased.  Very little of this content educated or excited the purchaser, but marketing departments produced it by the truckload.

That world is gone.  Forever.  It didn’t even say goodbye. Today’s potential purchaser has mass quantities of information available and is not so easily fooled by clever but meaningless dribble.  Moreover, given today’s social media focused, smartphone engaged, constantly connected world, the consumer holds the power to accept or reject the content. They can unsubscribe your email list, unlike you on Facebook and stop following your Tweets.  With no consequence, no guilt and no warning.  The buyer had no such choice in the stone age of marketing.  But today’s buyers have these abilities and aren’t afraid to use them.

How then does the marketer avoid being “unliked?” The answer is quite simple. You have to say something that the buyer wanted to hear.  Something that they find interesting, that makes them think. Content that educates them, that is straightforward, honest and fair.  Content that is not blatant chest puffing or insulting to your competitors.

Now, just avoiding being “unfollowed” is not nearly enough.  Necessary, but not sufficient.  You must be noticed in an increasingly crowded space, where content is mixed between personal interests and the business-related.  Content falls victim to that constantly.  Most of us do not have time to read every tweet or Facebook posting.  Often only those that “jump out at us” get read.

How then to avoid these pitfalls?  I’ll suggest these three rules for pitfall avoidance:

  1. Know your audience.  Be up to date on the issues your customer is focused on.  Ask your audience for feedback on a regular basis.  Find out what their concerns are and help them solve those problems through your content, even if it’s not directly related to your product.
  2. Start with a content plan. Create educational content, not “in your face” marketing.  Respect the customer’s intelligence.  Deal with them in a straightforward manner.
  3. Be consistent.  Let the audience get to know you.  You’re in it for the long term.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

You can easily find examples of both good and bad content every day.  Look in your email and your Twitter feed.  Some get it; some don’t. Observe, learn and make your content the best it can be!

Do you have a content plan?  How would you rate your own content?

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