When I first started copywriting, content marketing caught my eye. Honestly, writing sales copy scared me. It just wasn’t my thing, as they say.
That’s changed, and I’ll tell you why in a few minutes.
But I want to talk about how and why my love affair with content marketing started… and how it’s changed.
If I compare my content marketing experience to my marriage, you’ll see some similarities.
For example, when I first started dating Mary, I knew nothing about her. Or at least, very little. Sure… I’d dated other girls before and had a pretty good idea what to do, and what not to do.
But, I didn’t know much about this individual I’d become enamored with.
The more we dated, the more I discovered about her likes and dislikes, her preferences, and the unique things that made Mary, well, Mary!
Along the way, I discovered I had some misconceptions about her.
After a year of dating, we were engaged, and married soon after. That was when the real learning began. And, she still surprises me at times, even though we’ve been together for almost 40 years.
It’s the same with my love affair with content marketing. I heard Brian Clark mention that the name given it was unfortunate.
However, it wasn’t until recently that I realized how unfortunate it really was. What drew me to content marketing was the “alleged” fact that it wasn’t about selling.
I had the mistaken notion that it was all about storytelling. That term was bandied about in a lot of the articles I’d read.
But then, I came across a different perspective.
In an earlier blog, I mentioned a book I was reading, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.
The author, Ann Handley, also co-authored another book in my collection: Content Rules.
In both books, ideas behind content and content marketing were presented differently than what I’d believed.
Here’s what they explained.
Content marketing has little to do with storytelling
That blew me away… at first.
Up until then, I thought storytelling was the main idea behind content marketing. Turns out that it goes far beyond that. There are many writers who are good storytellers.
They can spin a yarn with the best of them.
Unfortunately, that isn’t all that’s involved. According to Ann in her book Everybody Writes:
“… as we wrote in Content Rules, your content is not about storytelling, it’s about telling a true story well. It’s a subtle difference. But the creators of the best content contemplate not just what story is worth telling but also how to tell it.”
Earlier in the chapter, she said this about storytelling:
“Storytelling as it applies to business isn’t about spinning a yarn or a fairy tale. Rather, it’s about how your business (or its products or services) exist in the real world: who you are and what you do for the benefit of others, and how you add value to people’s lives, ease their troubles, help shoulder their burdens, and meet their needs.”
My blurred picture of content marketing started coming into focus. And a better term for content marketing — marketing content — actually made more sense.
To top that off… I finally realized that great content was very similar to sales copy. Both had the same goal: to sell a product or service.
They’re just at opposite ends of the sales funnel!
Content marketing is used, not only to sell the product, but the company behind the product as well! People buy from other people they know, like, and trust.
Steve Slaunwhite and Michael Katz use the term “likeable expert.” It’s spot on, and in many ways, it’s exactly what content marketing does… or is supposed to do.
So, how has this latest information changed what I do?
Content marketing training… and more!
I’m still a fan of content marketing. Always will be.
In fact, I’m going to revisit some of my previous training, like programs from Gordon Graham and Steve Slaunwhite.
Brushing up on my white paper and case study skills is a must. There are several formats of B2B content marketing. A working knowledge of each would be profitable.
But, I’m adding other skills to the mix as well. I’ll have to bite the bullet and immerse myself more in sales copywriting.
There are two ways to do that. First, I’m in the middle of AWAI’s “Badges” program that teaches eight collateral marketing projects, including space ad copy.
And in just a few days, I’m Austin-bound for the AWAI Web Copy Intensive. Email sales copy and funnel basics are just two of the skills they’re going to teach.
Honestly, I’m a little nervous about dipping my feet in the sales copy pond.
But, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his inaugural address: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”…
And now that I understand the bond between marketing content and sales copy, I realize I need to be ready to write at both ends of the funnel. Hey… I need the skills to write all the way down through it!
That will make me more valuable to my clients, both present and future.
And, help me make more money, more consistently, so I can finally grow up to be a full-time copywriter.
How about you? What are you doing to further your copywriting career? How are you going to feel the fear… and do it anyway?
Meet me back here next week for an update on my progress, written to help you succeed, too!
And as always…
Here’s wishing you the very best of B2B Writing Success!