A Modern, Sophisticated Approach
to Improving Conversion

header image for Digital Public Relations Author Carrie Morgan
Mobile header image for Digital Public Relations Author Carrie Morgan

Is Content Marketing Training Us to be Jerks?

Are our expectations shifting to be unrealistic?
Do we expect too much for nothing?

It’s eight o’clock in the morning, I’m still making coffee and haven’t had a chance to swill down a single drop yet, and my phone rings. I answer it.

“Hi! My name is ___ from ____! (Said in way too chipper of a voice for the sadly non-morning person that I am.) Thanks for attending our webinar last week! What interested you about it??

Grrr. “I’m afraid I wasn’t able to attend but look forward to listening to the recording,” I say.

“Do you know what marketing automation is and have you used it for your clients,” he says?

“I’m really not interested in any kind of software but just wanted to learn something new. Great topic.”

…. He goes on to babble something in Swahili (no coffee, remember?), I quickly say I’m not interested and hang up. Pissed off.

Wait – why did I get pissed off? He was perfectly polite and the company clearly expected the webinar to generate leads. Is that so wrong? Did that poor sales guy deserve my irritation?

I was mildly offended that he asked if I know what marketing automation was, sure, but where did the anger come from?

Expectations. As we become more sophisticated in how we create and consume content, we are teaching ourselves to expect everything for nothing.

Marketers are also more likely to get angry or annoyed than your average consumer, because WE KNOW there is not (and should never be) a direct line from content to sale. It just doesn’t work that way.

Even when a company tries to force it.

What we’re taught about content marketing

Ebooks and webinars that require phone numbers are incredibly annoying. Why don’t they give us a choice to opt-out? It irritates us with the company before there is a chance to build a relationship. We already know we’re going to get an unwanted call from a sales person, and that the company relies on old school push marketing tactics.

Giving away something of value in exchange for contact information – and companies who use the contact information – didn’t used to be a bad thing. It was expected.

Isn’t it interesting how content marketing has trained us to be upset by companies that have the AUDACITY to wrap in sales tactics?

We want everything they have to give for free with no expectations and no promotion, darn it!! Gimme, gimme, gimme! Then I may or may not subscribe to your email, or follow you. Isn’t that what it’s all about? SHOULD that be what it’s all about? Either way, it’s how content marketing works.

It’s what today’s content marketing best practices are all about, anyway, not that everyone follows them. LOL Give something valuable away with no expectations, in hopes of getting noticed, of building credibility, loyalty.

(Awesome Whiteboard Friday video, Rand!)

Content marketing has long been a part of PR – one tool in a larger toolbelt to help us create awareness and visibility. As the volume of content has exploded online, we’ve become accustomed to finding any kind of knowledge we want. For free, no obligation.

As marketers, we’re taught “there’s no secret sauce,” to give away our hard-earned knowledge freely and to leave inbound marketing breadcrumbs to attract prospective customers like bees to honey. And it works – it really does. So we keep creating and creating, following the great golden mantra that we can’t ask for anything in return for that content.

We’re creating the universal expectation that we don’t owe the content creator anything and that we can just consume, consume, consume, then blithely go on our way.  That’s okay – in fact, it’s a good thing. We’re EARNING attention, instead of expecting it. But companies need to understand that new attitude from more sophisticated consumers of content and, if they chose to require contact information anyway, they need to handle it with sensitivity due to changed expectations of that audience.

They need to put layers of relationship building in place BEFORE THE ASK.

It’s okay to ask – but do it carefully

Is it reasonable to be irritated when companies don’t follow best practices and demand something in return? To get angry if they are promotional or ask for something in return?

If the sales call had been genuine instead of scripted, if he had reached out via email instead of interrupting my work, or if I had opted in to the call, it   probably wouldn’t have been a negative experience. But why would I open up to a stranger – even worse, a sales person – with no existing relationship to make it worth my time and transparency? I didn’t know this guy and he wanted to know details about how I run my business? Not a chance.

If I’d had my coffee this morning, I would have told him so, instead of quickly ending the call.

I’m assuming there was a gap between those creating the webinar (probably a marketing department) and the sales team. It was disconnected, with each side focusing only on their goal. The marketing team created a great webinar – then handed over the list of attendees to sales. Silo #2. There is a certain amount of training that should be in place for a sales team making those calls, so they create relationships instead of further inflaming the relationship.

If he had dived into my love of learning and chatting about the topic, it could have been the start of something useful. His loss.

Well, really, it’s a company’s loss if they don’t bridget those silos for a more purposeful connection. They need to think through their use of content marketing and how it fits into their lead generation process.


Connect with me to chat about this topic: