Content marketing advice abounds. But a lot of it doesn’t address one fundamental question. Who should get the job when it comes to your content marketing strategy?
Content marketing may be hotter than a Game of Thrones download, but that doesn’t mean any old content should do when it comes to your business. And I am here to tell you that when it comes to your startup or small business endeavours, hiring a blogger to do a content marketing strategy simply won’t do.
This has nothing to do with the stigma associated with blogging. I respect and am a part of the blogosphere for creative, political and personal use. Blogging is great. Bloggers can and do make a lot of cash out of writing about their experiences on all kinds of topics.
But that doesn’t mean a blogger knows what it takes to take your business to new heights via content marketing.
Here’s why content marketing is a different kettle of fish to blogging.
Their story isn’t your story
I’ve heard some wonderful stories about bloggers who have massive followings being approached by their favourite businesses to become their blogger. It seems like a dream come true when all that effort on a personal blog finally gets a determined writer a career break.
From a business perspective, it makes sense to pull in the person who has an organic following in your niche into your content marketing pool. Their following will translate into your following, right?
That’s probably not going to work. In fact, it may even have a detrimental effect on their blogging and your business.
You see, if a blogger has built up trust with an audience and is all of a sudden espousing the amazing wonders of your product on their blog OR yours, it may lead to both of you losing credibility if not handled well.
We’re human. And as such, we’re naturally suspicious of our trusted sources for information suddenly seeming commercially incentivised to share opinion.
The readers are tuning in for a story that belongs to that author. You change that story on a major level, and it will lead to rejection. Think of any spin-off movie or TV show you care to name if you want an example.
Don’t be the spin off to a blogger’s story. Craft your own story and hire the right content creator for the job.
Content marketing advice: Choose the person who can help you maximise SEO endeavours as well as have a proper business to consumer conversation about your product.
Aspiration doesn’t mean a purchase
We like to think that if we write a story that attracts an audience we can weave in a warm association with our business, too. But if product placement, sports sponsorship and advertorial have shown us anything, it’s not that simple.
Think about stadium naming in Australia. How frustrating is it to have to Google through several name changes to work out what stadium your favourite sports team or band is playing next week?
I’m not going to change insurer because the venue playing host to Radiohead is named after an insurance company. Are you?
Don’t confuse hanging with the cool kids with being one. Your street credibility with content really needs to come from your blog. Not how well your blog writer is known.
Content marketing advice: Think less about popularity through association and more about attracting customers based on highlighting your products merits.
Blogging and content marketing sound different
Creative writing and personal blogging endeavours sound different to other forms of writing. You use a different tone of voice as it’s often a process of catharsis for the writer.
Cue the burning torches and pitchforks but…
Just because you can write about your personal life doesn’t mean you can sell something. It doesn’t mean you have an idea of what it takes to write a business blog. It certainly doesn’t mean you know how to connect with customers for someone else’s products.
Think about football stars. Some eventually go on to coach. Many don’t. That’s because a different set of skills is required to set a game strategy then there is to be a star player in a particular position.
And your content strategy needs a coach more than it needs a star player.
To put it another way:
Content marketing is centred on the customer. It’s asking “what can I do for you?”
Much of the blogging is centred on the writer. It’s asking “can you relate to me?”
You can see the distinction. Blogging relies on a level of personal identification that isn’t always conducive to sales. But content marketing doesn’t need to be someone’s total BFF to strike a chord.
Content marketing advice: While blogging and online content may be personal forms of advertising, they are still advertising. And the best advertisement is the one where the consumer can put themselves in the picture.
Oh and then there’s this…
A blogger may not be business ready
Unfortunately, there are plenty of bloggers out there that can be charging you for services who don’t even have an ABN, let alone pay tax. The reason is there is a lot of misunderstanding by bloggers about legal and tax obligations in relation to hobby versus business income.
A lot of bloggers think they can earn up to $75K a year without tax or declaring their income. There is a lack of clarity in Australian taxation law that has many bloggers confused and doing the wrong thing.
As a business, you may think this is not your problem. You may even think it makes your life easier because you can save money on GST or pay lower rates due to cash in hand blogger relationships.
But it becomes your problem if they get found out by the tax department and the implications of you doing work with them come home to roost in your own taxation affairs.
It can also become your problem if they end up in a PR nightmare of associating your business with amateur, unskilled or low paid workers.
And we all know situations like this can turn into something a lot more horrendous if the wrong news source is chasing a juicy story.
Now, this might sound like nonsense to you. It may seem like a small problem. But I’ve been in enough blogging forums to know that there are a lot of bloggers that simply don’t recognise their ability to invoice you as a paying client as a business transaction.
And at some point, the ATO is going to smash through the law and create a fair whack of carnage as a result.
Do you really want your business to face an audit or end up with headlines about being a business slumlord because you chose to back a blogger over a content marketer?
Content marketing advice: Dig deeper than testimonials and whether someone has an audience to ensure the person you’re doing business with is legally allowed to do business.
The final piece of content marketing advice? Choose content marketing over blogging every time
Some bloggers are content creators. I know I am. And I am not saying bloggers suck at sales related endeavours. But I am saying that you shouldn’t assume a popular blogger knows how to sell anything.
And I am saying that you need to go through a process of ensuring they are able to translate your business through the use of content marketing as opposed to simply get a paid gig blogging about you.
These are subtle yet significant differences that make business so much simpler.
Content marketing needs strategy to work. It doesn’t need a popularity contest.