Four Types Of Content For Boutique IT Service Firms
On 22 March 2002, a joint FBI-CIA task force raided Al-Qaeda leader, Abu Zubaydah’s compound and after a fierce gunfight and suffering some serious injuries, Zubaydah was captured.
The interrogation went well, and valuable information was oozing out of Zubaydah.
Among others, he mentioned a guy he referred to as “the South American”. He was José Padilla from Puerto Rico.
Shortly after 9/11, Padilla met Zubaydah to pitch him on building a nuclear bomb.
Zubaydah knew Padilla didn’t have the huge resources that the building of a nuclear bomb required.
When he asked Padilla how he wanted to enrich the uranium, a sophisticated process requiring a small army of scientists and millions of dollars’ worth of centrifuges, Padilla gave Zubaydah as rather oddball answer…
“I’d put the uranium in a bucket and swing it around my head a few times.”
And this kind of simplistic thinking takes us to content marketing.
While content marketing is a rather sophisticated process, requiring a broad range of specialists to create and distribute quality content, for many IT service firms, content marketing is all about creating oodles of blog posts, written by some third-world “writers” for $5 per blog post or even less.
When you read their topics, you can see there are thousands of blog posts written about the same topic in a more or less boring, character-free voice.
Those firms are so obsessed with quantity that they never stop and think about how to put quality into their content marketing.
Because there is no content marketing strategy only one single tactic: Create more blog posts.
For them, content marketing is as simple as nuclear bomb-making for José Padilla. They believe if they just put the alphabet into a bucket and swing it around their heads a few times, they end up with amazing content that people just read and piss themselves in delight.
Well, not exactly.
To get your content read and recognised by your target market, you have to consider…
The Four Types Of Content
But first let’s start with three important observations…
The Three Criteria Of Worthwhile Content
Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger: “Copy without content is hucksterism, and content without copy is charity.”
Jay Abraham: “A branding ad without a direct response component is negligent. A direct response ad without any branding is simply naive.” ~ in How to Create a Sales Vortex
Dan Sullivan: “Selling is getting people intellectually engaged in a future result that’s good for them, and getting them to emotionally commit to take action to achieve that result.”
Brian says that unless you create a lump-free concoction of content (information) and copy (influence and persuasion), you get nowhere. Your materials become like the impotent husband: The position is filled but nothing is happening.
Jay says that you have to combine the creation of perception and invocation of action. Unless people understand what your business is all about (brand) and respond to your content (direct response element), the whole effort is wasted.
Dan says your content has to intellectually engage your readers, so by the time they reach the end of a given content piece, they are emotionally prepared to take the action the content piece calls for.
To fulfil all those criteria, we can slit up content into four groups.
Let’s start with…
This kind of content is really thinly veiled sales pitch.
The goal is to sell something, anything, to everyone who reads this content piece. In most cases, it’s pushy and manipulative.
The other day, I came across an article titled When Do You Have To Start Working With A Digital Marketing Agency?
The article’s author posits that the secret of any success in business is to work with a digital marketing agency. That’s the magic.
And in every point, he explains why his agency is the ideal agency to hire regardless of what type of business you have. Any business readers may have from accountants to zookeepers, the author’s firm is the perfect marketing agency to hire.
The other form of useless content is most beginars (free webinars with over 50% spent on begging for the sale).
30 minutes of trivial information, 30 minutes of hard selling and 15 minutes of Q & A. But every answer ends on, “If you have this problem, you should hire us right now.”
But most people wait for the webinar replays where they can skip the useless parts.
This is the type of content that has turned many internet marketing gurus into the kind of scum of the Universe that only The Men in Black can protect unsuspecting earthlings from.
Valuable information with no intention to advance readers in the sales funnel.
This is the total opposite of mercenary content.
The content’s creators don’t care if the content contributes to the generation of new business. Only one thing matters: Quantity. Produce as much content as possible and let’s see what happens.
IT firms love sharing their tech expertise, but since most tech professionals look down on marketing and sales, they are afraid of including persuasive and influential power in their content pieces.
So, people read their content and move on to another piece of content or to a different activity. And the content piece’s author gets forever forgotten in a few minutes.
Then the same people say content marketing doesn’t work because despite the billions of content pieces, they still need to hire armies of salespeople to drum up business.
The quality of these content pieces is reasonable, but the writers are told not to make them salesy. And if there is even a shred of salesy material in the content pieces, the corporate sales prevention department, a.k.a. the whole firm, takes it out and replaces the content writer for committing the unforgivable crime of including some influence and persuasion in the content.
Trivial, widely available information with no persuasive and influential power.
This type of content is typical for IT firms with quantity mentality. They post projects on Upwork, “We need 100 blog posts by tomorrow. Budget: $50.” This type of content which is really an imbecilic dump of over-hackneyed rhetoric and vending-machine clichés, based on an almost random heap of haphazardly patched together words and phrases sitting on websites as cyber vomit and literary excrement that no one reads and gives two shits about.
From the standpoint of practicality, this is the type of content that is worth creating.
This is the only type that fulfils all three criteria of worthwhile content.
Yes, it’s more expensive than the other types of content but this is really the only type of content that represents payoff.
This type of content is scarcely available valuable information with the right amount of engaging, persuasive and influential power. Content that…
…is scarcely available
…has a healthy balance of informative and influencing power (leads readers to the next step)
…presents a business problem solved through technology
…is unique both in a style and substance
…is relevant both for humans and search engines
…solves the searcher’s queries in a useful, effective manner
…is convenient and enjoyable to consume anywhere on any device
This is what good content does for readers. And let’s also see what it does for sellers who produce this kind of content. It…
…sifts, sorts and screens prospects and quickly disqualifies tyre-kickers, time-wasters and broke-arse losers.
…presents sellers’ brands in the best light.
…lays down the ground rules of working with the content piece’s author.
…positions sellers as top-notch premium firms.
…advances readers in sellers’ sales funnels towards the buying decision
This type of content is for sellers that require valuable, intelligent, engaging, action-oriented so-called “authority” content. Content that the cream of the crop of sellers’ target markets can notice, read, comment on, love, remember, share, link to and take action on.
In an oddball way…
Content Marketing Is Like Building A House
So, you need concrete.
For concrete, you need aggregate (a.k.a. content) and cement (a.k.a. copy).
The aggregate gives bulk to the concrete and cement give the bulk structure.
If you want to save money, you skimp on cement (copy), which is the most expensive part of concrete.
You save the cost of cement, but the house collapses, and you go bankrupt on insurance claims and lawsuits.
Cheap content tells a loud and clear story about those content publishers. And those stories are rather ugly.
The world is full of IT firms with hundreds of $50 semi-plagiarised, semi-literate literary ill-creations on their websites.
Using too much cement (copy) though, you make the concrete too brittle and as the concrete settles and sinks, the cracks appear and, eventually, the house collapses. Back to prison and square zero.
Similarly, when you use too much copy in your content, you come across as a snake oil peddler.
But with the right mix of aggregate and cement, you can build a great house that your clients enjoy living in.
The same way, with the right mix of content and copy, you can create engaging and informative content pieces that lead to new clients.
It’s all well and good, but to apply it all, you need to know how your target market perceives your firm.
Is it a fungible IT vendor or a respected IT authority?
It’s the market that hangs your brand around your neck based on the outside perception of your firm.
But you can also influence the outside perception by tweaking your firm’s inside reality, that is, your culture, by consciously transforming your firm from vendor to authority.
In this peddler quiz, you can check whether your firm is more of a fungible IT vendor or a respected IT authority.
In the meantime, don’t sell harder. Market smarter and your business will be better off for it.