Laptop of digital marketer with a posit note on the keyboard that reads

I won’t keep you in suspense because you’re probably busy but I hope you’ll take the suggestion seriously because it’s the difference between producing awesome content that people love or spamming people with sleazy crap everyone hates:


That’s it. Just be helpful. Even if all you’re doing is providing a laugh. Laughing is important.

Everything you make (like blog posts, videos, emails) or post on social media should have a clear purpose, and do one or all of the following: Educate, Inform or Entertain.

You educate by teaching potential customers how to do something within your area of expertise, or why something is as it is.

You inform by passing along beneficial news or sharing useful information about happenings at your company to customers and stakeholders.

And I don’t really know how to entertain people, but apparently if you play soccer like Cristiano Ronaldo, or sing like Katy Perry, or just be a little more Selena Gomez-y across the board, all of the 2016 social media follower stats suggest you’ll be onto something, so good luck Charlie!

Content Marketing is NOT Advertising

Please don’t treat them the same, because you’ll fail for the same reasons people don’t see paid-advertorials in The Wall Street Journal or The Washington Post and confuse them with actual news stories even though they’re designed to sort-of look like them.

‘Hey! What’s the secret?!’

Sorry! The word “secret” might be a misnomer, but that brings up another good data analysis-based Life Tip. People respond to certain words better than others, and you can prove it mathematically in digital places.

If you incorporate language statistically proven to drive more clicks and engagement (though you should always be testing for yourself!) into your messaging, you will give your content an incremental competitive edge over doing things the less-awesome way.

And that’s all digital marketing is—incremental improvement: Turning 2% into 2.7%, or turning 8% into 13%—we gotta fight for those inches.

But from a high level, there is really just one SUPER-CRITICAL thing to get right within the content your company or brand creates.


Understand They Don’t Care About You—They Care About Them

Which sounds more bleak and cynical than intended. These aren’t a bunch of empathy-less robots. They’re real-life human beings like everyone you know and care about. But in the Brand-Customer relationship, you’re not likely to be inviting one another over for dinner or exchanging holiday fruitcake recipes anytime soon.

You have ONE job. To effectively tell people how you can help them solve their problems. Because THAT is what they care about. They don’t care that you opened a new facility, or that the Chamber of Commerce gave you an award. They don’t care that your heating and cooling company is running a special on HVAC duct cleaning while they’re trying to figure out what new thermostat to buy, or why their air conditioning unit is running but not blowing cold air.

HOWEVER, imagine this:

Imagine that you wrote a blog post helping people choose new thermostats, or that you created a video demonstrating common A/C troubleshooting tips with no agenda other than genuinely helping them make buying decisions that make sense for their home.

And now when people are typing “choosing a thermostat” or “my ac unit isn’t blowing cold air” into their favorite search engines, your expert help is showing up in search results. And some percentage of the time, they’ll order a thermostat from you, or see your marketing messages off to the side about your current special on HVAC duct cleaning and call you for servicing and repairs. Maybe they’ll even purchase a new A/C unit!

In other words, you’ll be Super Mario saving Princess Peach and become the talk of the entire Mushroom Kingdom. You big hero, you. And all you had to do was spend a little time trying to help someone.

Write blog posts. Be helpful and professional. Write the post YOU would need to make smart decisions regarding the products and services you sell.

Incentivize and REWARD people for signing up to receive your email. If all you do is hawk a bunch of overstock parts (which you’re trying to unload BECAUSE they’re unpopular), and don’t provide value, your customers will tune you out. And never forget that relativism matters in this line of work. If you bat .333 in baseball, people don’t call you a loser who fails two out of three times. They CELEBRATE your success and beam you into the Hall of Fame. If you can get 25% of your email list to open your email sends, you’re doing a GREAT job. Get 5% to click on things, and 2% to buy things, and you should feel proud. Include products and information people want, or reward and encourage people to open your emails because what they find inside is an exclusive offer, or a way for them to save money on something of interest or value.

Use video to educate. These aren’t television commercials. People mostly hate those. TEACH them how to use your products effectively, or why your services provide value, or even how to do something for themselves that you wish they’d hire you for. You’re not losing sales. You’re building credibility. And you WILL grow your business that way, no matter how many DIYers you help in the process.

And lastly, use social media to share interesting things (including your own content!). They DO NOT CARE that one of your products won second place in a packaging design contest (unless that design can make their lives better!) or that the Chamber of Commerce gave you another plaque for whatever. They care about you being real-life human beings who at least pretend to care about their problems by answering their questions and addressing their concerns. If you’re going to run effective social media accounts, it requires attention and frequent posting of useful information, and it requires RESPONSIVENESS to customer engagement. Social media is now where companies’ public relations and customer service communications begin. Be professional, be kind, be consistent, be present and provide value.

Yes, this is hard. Not because it’s difficult or sorcery. But because it requires constant effort and commitment.

Yes, it sometimes feels counterintuitive. We want to always be selling; to “Always Be Closing” as Alec Baldwin’s character in the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” made famous. But that doesn’t work anymore. (You can read about why in this blog post from HubSpot who, coincidentally, produces amazing content marketing.)

And yes, it’s really worth it.

Be helpful. People will like you.

Create helpful content. People who need help will find you.

Then, everybody wins.

Well, maybe not that husky guy over there trying to pull off wearing the same dress as Selena Gomez. (That’s not what we meant.)

But almost everybody!

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