Ryan's experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.
For a short, horrible time in my life, I was a manager of a Verizon retail store. This was when the iPhone 4 was coming out, and Siri was the most famous woman in the world. But our corporate store didn't want to sell them!
Roughly 90% of the smartphone customers that came in the store wanted an iPhone. That's the only reason they were there. But we were trained to push customers toward Android phones.
Because the company and the salespeople made more money when we sold non-Apple products. Notice the focus in pitching was for the benefit of the company, not the customer.
This is the fundamental flaw in old-style business.
So I found myself, day after day, treating people the exact opposite of how I want to be treated. I sold to them. Imagine my frustration when the same customer would come back two weeks later with a ton of complaints about their Android, and having to tell them they were stuck with it for two years!
Customers don't mind being educated but they want the truth! Consumers don't want to be sold to based on margin, overstock, or sales incentive plan (SIP). They want a company who will help them get the best deal for them. Helping them includes your blog.
Why You Should Never Put a "Sales Pitch" in Your Blog Posts
We have written hundreds of blog articles for ourselves and our clients, and we still have to educate our customers on this one thing, "reject the idea of the sales pitch." Instead, dare to embrace a practice of adding value to the client. Focus on the customer's needs and giving the best possible advice to them, and you will see success through content marketing on your blog.
People are Looking for Answers, Not Pitches.
Blog posts do an excellent job of funneling traffic from search engines to your website. It's one of the most effective forms of marketing there is, and it's evergreen - it will benefit you forever. That is if it's done right!
When people are searching on Google or Bing, they are looking for answers. They aren't looking for a pitch.
Always answer this question: "Why?"
For instance, if I'm on Google searching for, "what are the best mouse traps," I want to know. I do not want someone to point to their brand and say, "this is the very best you can possibly buy." I want them to show me why a mouse trap is considered the best, and what the pros and cons are of it.
It's okay to share your opinion, even if you honestly believe your mouse trap is best; but show them why you believe that.
Everyone can say, "we're the best!" But no one trusts you when you say that. It's an empty promise every other brand is promising. In other words, when you pitch yourself, you're joining the noise of thousands of other brands just like you, all saying the same thing; "we're the best!"
The brand that sets themselves apart are the ones who take the time to say, this is what makes a great mouse trap, and this is why we think it's the best for these particular situations. They will also be the one admitting to the disadvantages or downsides of their product as well.
No product is the best for everyone.
The company that is courageous enough to be comfortable with that will be the one people trust above the noise.
People Bounce From Pitches
We consistently talk to CEO's and CMO's who want to focus on how great their company is in their blog content. I've met few people who are comfortable talking about their competitors, especially if you do so in a positive light.
I've written previously about a client that allowed me to run with content, even content that made their competitors look good. The results speak for themselves.
Customers appreciate honesty and valuable content devoid of pitches. They trust you when you are brave enough to say, "you know, we might not be the best fit for you. In some cases, 'x' company might be a better choice."
For the most part, that is unheard of in business! But those who do this, especially on their blog content, win! Every single time!
Your Company Blog is Not a Sales Tool
What!? It's not a sales tool!? Why are we wasting time on it then?
If you view your blog as an automated salesman, you're looking at it all wrong.
Your blog is not a sales tool. Your blog is a relationship-builder. It's an introduction-maker.
The purpose of your blog, for the most part, is to take people who know nothing about your brand and introduce your brand as a valuable resource to them.
Imagine going to a used car lot and talking to a stereotypical used car salesman. Now imagine going to the lot across the street where the salesman says, "Hey, let me show you five ways to get the best deal, regardless of where you buy."
Who would you want to go every time you buy a car? Who would you recommend to your friends and family?
That's your blog! It's the person who says, "let me answer your questions," and "let me be helpful to you." It builds a relationship. It builds trust.
Getting the Most From Your Business Blog
Your blog can be the vehicle for developing brand advocates. You just have to embrace honesty, transparency, and wholeheartedly reject the pressure to pitch your product or service in every post.
Reject the myth that a website is only about sales and generating leads. It's not. It's about the brand experience.
If inbound marketing is going to work, companies must fight the urge for instant gratification. Give the system time to work.
Don't judge your blog quality on how many sales it generates in the first week. Judge it by how many people are finding it helpful. Continue to help and a year from now, you may feel different about the quality of a blog post.
Your entire website funnel shouldn't be built on instant gratification. Instead, create a library of resources that will allow customers to walk themselves through the buying process. Fight the urge to try and close them at first touch. Allow them to move through the system and then be ready to respond immediately whenever a lead raises their hand and says, "I'm ready to buy."
If you create a blog focused on helping your customers make the best decision for themselves, you will have many more happy customers.
In fact, the company who has the inferior product loses in this battle. So if you're really worried that writing the truth will hurt your company because they'll learn you're not the best fit for their needs - blogging is not your problem.
If you have great products or services, be transparent. People will trust you for it. And people buy from companies they trust.
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