Monthly Archive: January 2012

I’ve Been Writing Ad Copy Since 1982, And News Copy Since 1983.

Content marketing. Everyone wants some.

But David Spark of Spark Media Solutions cautions that few of the agencies busy peddling their “content marketing” expertise have the necessary chops to make that claim.

Yes, ad agencies and PR firms without a seasoned editorial staff can physically create media, but it’s like hiring a general practitioner when you need a specialist.

I’m sure I’ll get a lot of heat for this comment as many ad agencies and PR firms are basing a lot of their new business on content marketing. I’m all for that, just as long as they have an experienced staff to do it. That requires hiring people who have worked in traditional journalistic media, not just giving new responsibilities to staffers who don’t have the experience or training. Traditional media is very different from creating ad copy.

I agree that writing ad copy and producing brand-sponsored content require different approaches, and that a background in journalism is helpful to content producers on the agency dime. However, speaking from my own experience, the two practices can be performed by the same person, or team. Just like a gifted guitar player can pick up the banjo and/or mandolin and sound great, a writer grounded in both advertising and content can weave a story in both venues, and move from one to the other without a hitch.

For me, it’s about intent. Great advertising reveals a core truth about the product or service in a fresh, “why didn’t I think of that?” fashion. Through strategic and repeated media placements, the new idea gets adopted by prospects and brand value is created. Brand-sponsored content, on the other hand, often has a very loose connection, or no connection at all, to the product or service in question. Content’s intent is to inform or entertain. When it’s done right, content is a gift.

Direct and brand advertising come with an ask; therefore, advertising is often an unwelcome intrusion, not a gift. Once you understand the difference, and you have real world experience creating both ads and content for brands, there’s no reason both services can’t live under one roof (as they do at Bonehook).

By the way, here I am getting the News pages together at The College Reporter in Lancaster, PA, circa 1984:

Want To Sell More? Help, Inspire and Reassure.

“If we are any good at what we do, we believe, then we should not have to talk people into hiring us.” -Blair Enns, author of Win Without Pitching

It’s a new year and from a business perspective a time to make annual assessments and projections. I’ve been doing what we all do, looking at income from last year, how many clients we served (ten!) and what clients were most profitable.

I’ve also been looking at how to accelerate the company in 2012 and what kind of advanced learning opportunities are available to me. While I already know that sales is service and success in sales is dependent on relationships, Blair Enns, a business development consultant to creative firms, is helping me to see what else selling is and how to best practice it today.

Proper selling can be distilled into three steps, based on the client’s place in the buying cycle. These three steps replace the art of persuasion.

To sell is to:

1. Help the unaware

2. Inspire the interested

3. Reassure those who have formed intent

In other words, new business development isn’t something persuaders do. It’s something educators and motivators do.

Enns is also a big believer in using thought leadership to establish one’s expertise. When you’re clearly the one person, or one firm that’s right for the job, a.k.a the clear expert, you win without pitching.

Of course, it’s not always possible to win without pitching. That’s why other more traditional sales gurus advise Biz Dev pros to “tie your solution to a pending regulation or other impending event” or “align the solution to a strategic objective.”

Speaking of aligning the solution to a strategic objective, I recently started using the free version of Capsule CRM, and am happy to report that it’s a nifty piece of software that helps me see what’s in the sales pipeline and how much revenue is on the line. If you need a similar Salesforce-like tool, give it a spin.

Working With Friends Is Always A Goal

One of the things I get excited about is hiring friends to help me tell a brand’s story. I’m currently working with two friends on a web refresh project. One of these friends, Scott Baker, is a high school history teacher by day and a photographer by night. He also loves soccer, so he was the ideal person to call when Portland Indoor Soccer needed some new images.

These two shots (and dozens more) will be featured on the newly reconstructed when it launches.