This article originally appeared on B2B Marketing.
When I was just about 7 years old, my friend Scooter told me that he had a monkey that lived in his backyard. The monkey was tiny, lived in a shoe box, and only ate milk and cookies. The monkey had brown fur, blue eyes, and wore a little hat that he would tip whenever you gave him a cookie. Scooter was a natural storyteller, even at 7 he was a wizard with words. The monkey really like Oreos, he said. Give him an Oreo and the monkey—named Simon—would do a little dance.
I had no reason not to believe Scooter. In fact, I wanted to believe him. I had to see this monkey dance. Scooter encouraged me to swipe the pack of Oreos from my mom’s pantry along with a jug of milk from the fridge. Scooter and I walked down the street—just three house down from mine—to where the he and the monkey lived.
Scooter went through the house and into the backyard. His was a far less tended backyard than mine. The cement in the patio was badly cracked, the lawn simultaneously overgrown turning and turning a brittle yellow. It was a mess. There was a decaying picnic table amidst all this ruin. Scooter took the Oreos and milk from me, plopped himself at the table, and began to devour the treats I had intended for Simon the monkey.
“Where’s Simon?” I asked. Will he come out once he sees the Oreos? Scooter looked at me like I was stupid. Perhaps I was.
“There’s no Simon,” Scooter said. “I just wanted some cookies.”
I didn’t know it at the time, but the cold, empty disappointment and sense of betrayal I felt as I dragged myself back up the street to my house was my first lesson in content marketing.
No dancing monkeys
There are no dancing monkeys in content marketing, but there is disappointment. There is betrayal.
When I download a piece of content from a vendor, I’m engaging in a game of trust. I receive an email, visit a landing page, respond to a social media post and am enticed by the description. The information therein will help me do my job better, provide insight into challenges I face, and give me a solution to a problem that’s been plaguing me for months. The story—much like my friend Scooter’s was—is compelling.
So I click through the ad—for, say, a company called Godzilla CRM—and fill out my information. I give up my phone number and email address, reveal my company’s size, and its annual revenue. It’s a fair bit of information, but the content is just too enticing to pass up. I finish the form, and download the content and what do I get? A two-page ad for a mediocre CRM system. Not at all worth it. I lose.
Meanwhile, the vendor seems to have won. Much like Scooter, who ended up with a half-gallon of whole milk and a full pack of Oreos, the vendor has what it wanted all along: my contact information.
The winner is the loser
A couple days later, the vendor sends me an email informing me that they’ve seen I downloaded their whitepaper. The tone of the email is chipper, excited. Am I ready to set a meeting to talk about Godzilla CRM?
No. I hit delete.
Then comes a second email. And a third. Every week or so, I get an email from a Godzilla CRM rep who seems to be pleading for a meeting. What the rep doesn’t realize is that they’ll never get a meeting with me. You see, Godzilla CRM violated my trust. Their whitepaper did not fulfill its promise.
Why should I believe their products to be any different?
Your content marketing must deliver
As a content marketer you’re responsible to fulfill your prospect’s trust. Content marketing must deliver on its promises.
The best strategy is to build content that directly answers the questions a prospect might have and then scrutinize it from their perspective. This means taking your company hat off for a few moments and putting on the hat of your potential customer.
Do you describe your products as “industry leading?” Cut it.
Is yours a “robust,” “next-generation,” “cutting edge,” “world class” solution? Cut. Cut. Cut. Cut.
If you’re promising to provide the solution to a problem. Provide it. Do no more.
There’s a moral to every story
After lying about Simon, Scooter and I were never the same again. We were still friends, 7-year old kids don’t really know how to end a friendship, we just were never as close as we had been. If Scooter told me there was a dancing monkey, there should have been a dancing monkey.
Just as when a content marketer tells me he’s going to help, it’s incumbent upon them to do so.
For some guidelines on how to reach today’s B2B prospects, download Madison Logic’s Field Guide to the B2B Buyer.