One of our golden rules of B2B content marketing (alongside things like “First, be useful”) is not to talk about your own company or products. But it can feel good to break rules.
What I mean is that there is a time to talk about your offering. The rule (there is no formalised book of “Rules” – maybe there should be) really refers to earlier stages of involvement with a potential customer. That’s when you’re trying to educate, engage, show them you know your area of expertise.
Bruce McDuffee, interim content director at Boeing Digital Aviation Marketing, said:
I learned it was 10 times harder to get buy-in from the sales or product leaders if I told them product promotion doesn’t work or it should be eschewed. I also now understand better how product-based content and promotion are essential to those in the target audience as they approach the decision.
He goes on to say:
Now… I am careful to distinguish the difference between educational/helpful content that’s used to engage with the audience and to build credibility and top-of-mind awareness, and product-based content that’s used to close the business at the bottom of the funnel.
What gets me is content dressed up as bottom of funnel content when it’s really more early stage. I was looking at just such an example last week.
I can’t name the company, so I’ll keep it general. A short (3pp) PDF was passed off as a guide to buying a certain type of software. But it was really still about convincing the reader that such software was an important part of most modern businesses. Any potential customer would have already made that decision. At that point the company just needs to talk turkey. Present the pricing options, features and terms (it was software as a service rather than traditional packaged software), then let the deal get done.
A little different to this, though equally annoying – the same company put out a ‘How to choose a [insert what your company does here]’ piece. Now if all the answers lead to that company’s offering, why would you trust them?
In reality – and this is what people in part mean when they talk about ‘authenticity’ – there must be an option which amounts to: ‘We’re not for you, in that case.’ Let’s face it, that’s going to be an outcome at least some of the time. Such honesty might win you a customer in the long term where otherwise you’d turn them against you early on.
Creating different content for different purposes is important. So is flagging that, where you can. Just stick to what you say you’re going to do.