We’re Not Hypnotists, But We Do Ask Clients To Get Out of Their Head

Raf Stevens, author of the newly published book, No Story, No Fans, has an important message for those of us busy developing content for our clients.

What helps great content to spread is how compelling and inspiring the message is, not how it slants toward positioning your company as the only one to buy from. Content should make connections. I’ll go even further than that. Content follows connection. First, you need to engage, build rapport, and make your audience trust you. Pure information or marketing messages do not make that happen. If you communicate in facts and figures, you are communicating “brain to brain.” To be a successful storyteller, you need to communicate human to human, heart to heart, and emotion to emotion.

Interestingly, the best ads also reach people at an emotional level. Yet, clients who pony up big bucks to create and place an ad or to improve their website are acting rationally. They want more business and are willing to do what is necessary to make the register ring. The take away here is that it is imperative to move from the rational to the emotional when appealing to prospects and customers.

Yesterday at a Portland Ad Fed luncheon, a principal of another Portland agency told me that content marketing is just writing. No. It is writing and/or video created on a client’s behalf, but there’s no direct sell packaged up in the message, rather there’s entertainment or utility worth seeking out and sharing courtesy of the sponsoring brand.

Let’s take a look at this new content offering from Patagonia, a master of the form:

Six and a half minutes of video from an outdoor clothing company, and no mention or even a hint of product marketing. There’s no need for it, because Patagonia knows what matters to its customers — in this case environmental damage being done to a wild place.

That’s the model in a nutshell. Find the shared points of interest between the company and its customers and focus there. Perfectly executed content marketing like Patagonia’s doesn’t do away with salesmanship. In many cases, traditional marketing is still needed to induce transactions. Content doesn’t replace advertising, it lives side-by-side with it.

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