When a sales pitch can help content marketing

When a sales pitch can help content marketing





When a sales pitch can help content marketing


Tony Hallett
Managing director

Tony set up Collective Content in 2011 so brands can more easily become publishers and tell stories. This built on 15 years in media, from reporter to publishing director at Silicon Media Group, CNET Networks and CBS Interactive.

This post was first published on 30 September 2013.

We spoke briefly last time about educating clients about the benefits of content marketing (because lack of education is the biggest blocker we know). We have won clients for all kinds of reasons, including “Our VCs told us we need to do content marketing” and “We hear this is the latest trend”. In both those cases, we’ve usually lost the clients within six months.

Why? Those are two great examples when the decision-maker doesn’t know why they are investing in content marketing. And no one likes paying for things they don’t understand and so can’t justify.

In most cases, clients like that will be back. (Not necessarily to us but to someone in the market who can help.) But there is another type of client interaction that is perhaps harder to manage. This is the client who walks the walk and talks the talk but at the eleventh hour – possibly under pressure from someone else in their organisation – wants more about their own company, products and services in the content.

It is old school, for sure. It is from the world of 30-second TV ads bashing customers into submission. And it is, in short, ineffective.

How to communicate your ideas

And it’s what they want.

How does any agency deal with that? Many won’t even publically say it happens. It might make them appear weak or make the industry look immature. But it is simply the frequent reality, in our experience, and what follows is one solution.

The scenario is that a piece of content – for example, a white paper or infographic – has been developed and created for use by a client, perhaps gated on a website, on a blog, via a newsletter or through a social media channel. It is being signed off when at the last moment a request comes in to add lots of extra information about that client’s product or maybe just about who they are.

It’d look awful and can’t be shoe-horned in. You start to feel a little sick at this point, especially when something has been worked on for months.

Advising against this isn’t working and there is always the “We won’t do that” (and probably lose the account and payment) course of action. But you don’t want that.

So one middle way is this: Embrace the client’s additions for what they are – old school marketing copy. They won’t work as part of the content you have produced. But what if they sit alongside that copy?

In one case, where we embraced this, we think it increased the value of content we had spent weeks creating. By sitting alongside it, looking very much like a traditional ad, it made the content marketing feel much closer to traditional editorial.

Recently, Brian Honigman over at Contently discussed almost the same issue ‘Do brand publications need ads?’ (article no longer available).

They pointed out other benefits besides an authentic feel to the content, including making a bit of extra revenue (where third-party ads are placed and money taken) – which goes towards funding the brand content.

* photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

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