by Scott Levine
According to Wikipedia: “A fishing lure is a type of artificial fishing bait which is designed to attract a fish’s attention. “ According to content marketing wisdom- “content marketing uses content as bait to attract a buyer’s attention.”
What then, is the best content bait to use when fishing for leads?
Tasty content is the best bait to use. Content that is the most appealing to the type of fish that you want to catch. There are many different types of fish in the “ocean of leads” and just as master fisherman know specifically what bait is most likely to catch their fish of choice, content marketers must strive to learn what content is going to appear tasty to the prospects they’re trying to hook.
Literally millions of dollars are spent annually by marketers trying to crack the magic tasty content code, which involves determining what content that will work best to “lure” prospective buyers to consider your product or service.
But wait, content marketing is all about providing value for the reader, in order to portray the source of the content as a thought leader, as an important contributing member of the “community” who is providing the content for the greater good of the industry.
Well, that may be true in some cases, however in other cases, the company paying to put forth the content has an agenda, and that agenda is to sell product or services to the person consuming their content.
The theory of content marketing is simple. Provide valuable content to current or prospective customers to be perceived as industry leaders to gain consideration of the company providing the content for product or services. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as the “creation and distribution of educational and/or compelling content in multiple media formats to attract and/ or retain customers.”
Michael Brenner of Newscred wrote “Brands have learned that promoting themselves doesn’t work. Ultimately it’s the stories that allow brands to connect with their audience. The future of marketing is extreme customer-centricity.”
Over the past couple of years, the school of thought regarding people to register for the content has changed, with the original thought that every piece of content should be gated, in order to gain registrations (leads), and as of more recent times, that sentiment has changed, to allow all access to the content without registration as a show of good faith and thought leadership.
Is all of this free valuable content for the greater good of the world disingenuous?
It all depends on your perspective. If you are a prospective customer consuming the content and find it valuable, where it enables you to be more effective or efficient or provides a better path for you to follow to success, the value of the content is genuine. The intent of the marketer to ultimately persuade you to consider their brand by providing free content is also genuine.
Content marketing is, after all, marketing, is it not? And, according to the American Marketing Association, the definition of marketing is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Content marketing has value for customers and therefore according to the AMA definition is marketing.
This brings us back to the original question: What is the tasty content bait to use when fishing for leads?
Before I answer that rhetorical question, let’s look at what I view as the fundamental issue when marketers strive to create content as bait which is; marketers know everything they need to know about their company, their industry and their product or service, but know seemingly little about their customer or prospective customer. According to Jodi Harris, in an article found on the Content Marketing Institute’s Blog, there are four content marketing tactics that need to be on top of your list, however the #1 tactic is: “Understanding your audience.”
The ONLY way to create content that is truly valuable to the reader; that compels the reader to think, take notice, change behavior, respond to a call to action, or help the reader to either assess or make a decision, is to understand the audience.
It was this epiphany that led me to develop what I call the evolution of the marketing persona: Progressive Persona Profiling. And the evolution of Progressive Persona Profiling was the advent of an output of Content Strategy which is written to specifically create content that will be perceived as valuable, relevant, relatable, and compelling by the reader.
In order to catch more fish, you will need to have bait that is seemingly tasty to the fish, as your content needs to be equally “tasty” to your audience. The first and most important step to creating a solid and successful content strategy is to understand your audience.
And that’s no fish story.