Some copy about content
The purpose of content has changed. Not so long ago, content was a fancy word for copy and was something to be used in marketing collateral and sales pitches. On the web this was translated most usually as the company web site and a sales page. Internal communications or manuals or training guides were not considered content (if they were considered at all) and certainly not considered as part of an strategy for increasing customer retention.
The word ‘content’ now tends to be used in conjunction with the terms ‘marketing’ or ‘strategy’. Which may or may not make things clearer.
When content was regarded as copy, it was usually left to a copywriter (or the ubiquitous CEO’s nephew) to write it.
Things have changed
Sites that rely on copy these days are sad affairs.
Sites that rely on copy are simply asking you to buy.
Sites that rely on copy only are not really interested in you.
Sites that rely on content are making an effort to establish a relationship.
It’s the difference between customer acquisition and selling. And then between selling once and customer retention.
So, what is content?
Don’t let the word content put you off. Admittedly, it’s a pretty shabby word. Both threatening and bland at the same time. We need a new term. Until that happens, think of it this way:
Content is your passion on the page.
It’s your experience and knowledge and beliefs and ideas. On the page. There for people to read.
… to rehearse the hoary old chestnut, people buy from people.
People buy from people they trust. People who have shared their:
Content, then, is you. Your business.
Content is (very) important
The Cluetrain Manifesto was published in 2000. It is a book rich in vital messages for business in the age of the internet (and the intranet, an aspect of information sharing often overlooked in books and articles about business communications). Here is a message from early in the book – from the book’s ‘elevator rap’:
You have two choices. You can continue to lock yourself behind facile corporate words and happytalk brochures…. Or you can join the conversation.
People buy from people they can engage with in conversation. Over time.
What to do about it
Whatever the size of your business, this doesn’t need to be a huge content marketing exercise. For instance…..here’s what my wife experienced:
She tried blogging. It didn’t take. That’s ok: it’s not for everyone and if it’s not a fit, don’t force it. The passion won’t come through if what you write is a chore and you’re doing it because your content guy tells you you should. What suited my wife better was a LinkedIn group for those in her industry sector. Hers was the first group in the sector and soon she had gathered representatives of clients, potential customers, industry bodies, and even competitors. It is a lively forum and, whereas the blog could feel like she was speaking to herself and she had to dream up subjects to write about, the group sparks conversations and topics primarily through its range of expertise and interests. The engagement is almost instantaneous.
The result: The LinkedIn group has established her as an expert in her field. She is now invited to speak at meetings of potential clients and associated industries.
Buy a copy of Euan Semple’s book Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do (that’s an affiliate link). You can read my review of the book here.
While you read that book, think how best to use what Chris Brogan calls outposts. I’ll be writing posts over the coming weeks about making the best use of your passion and expertise across the social web.
Now write some content. Put down what you know about your business. Write as if you were explaining to someone you love what it is you love about your job or your company. (And if you want to really test yourself, now try writing the same thing as a sales letter and watch how your passion declines and you end up wondering why you go to work each day!)
And if you haven’t done so already, sign up for my newsletter (use the box in the sidebar) to get regular updates about content and writing for your business.