Content – Your Savior or Your Enemy

I’ve had some cool interactions dealing with content marketing this last week that I wanted to share with you.

I spent last Thursday at | The Content Marketing Event 2011.

This was a really great experience in many ways.

The one point I want to share with you here is how far and fast content marketing is progressing.

The bar today is now at giving away your best material. And I’m talking about giving it away with no strings attached. No forms. No subscriptions to email lists. Just great information given away totally for free.

Did you do a comprehensive industry survey? Great! Just put the link on your site. Just give it away.

Did you do an in-depth training for your distributors? Super. Put it on Youtube.

This interests me because I know that there are many, many businesses being completely left behind in this philosophy.

There are many businesses that still believe that if people want to find the price of a product they need to call.

This strategy is fine as long as everyone in your industry is aligned with this strategy. But the minute one of your competitors breaks this unspoken rule is the minute you are at a disadvantage.

Have you recently seen a real estate listing in the newspaper that doesn’t show the price of the house? They are pretty rare. But they still exist. It’s annoying as hell. How am I supposed to have any idea even what ballpark a house is in if I don’t get to see the price? I don’t want to look like an idiot calling on a house I have no business talking about.

Not showing your price makes your prospect defensive, unsure and powerless.

If you are telling yourself you hide your price because you don’t want your competitors to know, I assure you, if your competitors are worth their salt, they know your prices. I get competitor proposals sent to me all the time. I don’t even have to do any market research. My clients do it for me.

If you are hiding your prices because you are “custom,” I bet you have a pricing guide. I bet there is a calculation you use to figure out the cost of your product or service.

But pricing is the least of your worries. The level of transparency is becoming extreme.

I know that SEOMoz, the great SEO software people,  has made nearly $6 million in revenue the first half of 2011. I actually know exactly how much money they made every single month this year.

The reason I know that is because their CEO, Rand Fishkin, outlined in minute detail how their latest round of funding fell through in this post:
Misadventures in VC Funding: The $24 Million Moz Almost Raised.

If you are interested in knowing the inside story of a painful VC pursuit I highly encourage you to read that post.

But I bring it up here because of the amazing transparency it portrays.

Rand knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s building trust. He is making you feel connected to him and his company. It’s bold and brilliant.

We are going to see more and more of this kind of thing. Transparency is where the world of marketing is.

The minute your competitor breaks down these walls is the minute you are being left behind.

I want you to check out this post:
20 Ways to Deal With Regrets

It’s from a very popular blogger, James Altucher. This blog is on the outer edge of breaking down the walls of transparency.

He will share with you every major failing in his life. It’s extreme. But it’s important to see the extreme. It pushes your barriers.

I can’t stop reading his blog. It is compelling, addictive and also helpful. It’s inspirational and hopeful.

What you must understand is that people are tired of bullshit. On top of that they are starting to see glimpses of not being bullshitted. I’m here to tell you: It’s nice. It’s nice to be leveled with.

The people that are straight up are going to be rewarded. The Rand Fishkin’s and James Altucher’s of the world have figured this out. They will win because they are building trust.

If you are a sales-based organization you know this: People buy from who they know and who they trust. You build trust by being real. By not being afraid of sharing information.

People are sick of marketing language that is meaningless and manipulative.

If you are afraid of sharing information you have a vulnerability. It is something that can be exploited by your competition.

The world is changing more rapidly than probably any time in history. Businesses will be made and broken on how adaptable they can be.

The Fairlawn Ohio Blockbuster is now a Sleep Number Bed store. Borders is gone. My wife and I were in Barnes and Noble yesterday lamenting how we’ll miss it when it’s gone. And I assure you, it will be gone.

Sure. People will still read. They will still watch movies. They will still take pictures. Hell. They even still want ice. And they want money “wired” to them.

But how they get all those items have drastically changed over the years. It’s only going to continue to speed up.

In this post I’m talking about the drastic change in communication that is going on between vendor and customer. It’s happening. The day your competitor catches on before you is the day you start to lose.

Don’t lose. Start sharing. Start being real.

You can start by telling us your most recent failing. I’ll tell you mine on Friday.

Most recent posts by Sage Lewis


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