The subtle art of not selling too hard

Brands that talk about how great their products are without earning the respect of their audience will be ignored.

Brands that talk about how great their products are without earning the respect of their audience will be ignored.

Show. Don’t tell.

Those are words we’ll preach until the cows come home, regardless of the number of eyerolls we get in response. We get it. That’s rule #1 of basic storytelling for bright, young aspiring David Ogilvys.

It seems, to many seasoned marketers, like a glaringly obvious fact. But just because they took notes on that first day of Writing 101 doesn’t mean they were listening.

Otherwise, why would today’s content landscape be so cluttered with hard-sell campaigns that are all saying, “We did [insert any generic description of products and services]. And it was great.”?

Don’t be extra

Brands that talk about how great their products are without earning the respect of their audience are commonly ignored.

Desperation is the world’s sourest cologne, and an audience can sniff out a hard sell faster than any brand can change their strategy. Conversely, brands that provide useful information are more likely to engage their audience, and ultimately sell products.

That difference in approach gets at the core of what content marketing is all about. Instead of explicitly advertising a product, focus on promoting content which audiences find valuable or entertaining.

The possibilities are endless: thought leadership on industry trends; hints and tips about how to more effectively run your business; or a humorous video about common pitfalls. For example.

If brands provide content that’s relevant and useful, audiences will ultimately reward brands with sales and loyalty. Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising study found considered editorial content is more trusted by consumers than ads.

Playing the long game

Content marketing doesn’t mean not talking about your product. It means providing useful information first to earn trust, and promoting the product once audiences perceive the brand as sincere and helpful rather than purely self-interested.

But for content marketing to work, a strategy is essential. The strategy involves identifying who your key audience is, what sort of content they will find useful, and what channels are most effective for distributing that content. A good strategy will also optimize and course-correct along the way, by measuring which topic is resonating or not, and tweaking the content mix accordingly.

If you’re keen to talk more about what content marketing can do for your brand, drop us a line.

We’d be delighted to show you how we practise what we preach.

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