While social media gets much of the recent credit for this phenomenon, it has existed forever, long before the famous shampoo commercial that explained how happy customers “tell their 2 friends, who tell their 2 friends and so on, and so on.”
I believe that the most important words in marketing are “thank you.” Because when you create great content, your readers will share it. It will get found by more and more people and your readers become a free army of promoters for your brand and content. So you should thank them!
But what is the opposite of thanking your readers? The opposite of being grateful is being rude.
How do brands offend their readers? With boring content that requires registration.
I often hear the same toxic excuse from traditional marketers for why they continue to be overly-promotional, with late-stage content and to gate that content too often:
“We are in the business of selling stuff.”
And so I propose that these are the most toxic words in marketing: “But we are in the business of selling stuff.”
Q: Why do you create content that only talks about us and how great we are?
A: Because we are in the business of selling stuff. We have to show real business results.
Q: Why do you put registration forms in front of too much of your content?
A: Because we are in the business of selling stuff. Our sales team wants leads.
Q: Why do you use social channels to promote products and campaigns that no one wants?
A: Because we are in the business of selling stuff. And because the boss told me to do it.
Q: Why do you send too many promotional emails to your house list as response rates drop and opt-outs increase?
A: Because we are in the business of selling stuff. We don’t just give stuff away.
Q: Why do you create snippets of blog posts for your email subscribers and force them to click to read more?
A: Because we are in the business of selling stuff. We need to make them come back to our website.
Trust me, I realize there is a time to use registration forms. But there is a cost to bad content and just talking about yourself is not the best way to sell stuff, it is simply the biggest mistake marketers make.
But please, don’t take my word for it. Test it. Send some of your paid search traffic to a blog site. Then measure if they share it. Measure the effect of that traffic, of their social shares and of the SEO benefit gets you in the form of free visitors, who also share it and then convert to leads.
You will need to optimize your call-to-action, but the numbers won’t lie. You can create a content destination with great content and no registration gates that can become a lead generation machine for your business.
Because when you realize that the purpose of your business is to serve your customers, you will not only stop offending your prospects, you will gain more customers at a lower cost. And they will tell 2 friends, who will tell 2 friends and so on, and so on…