Why only 20% of your marketing should be hard sales

Posted by Darren Leishman
Most marketing skips the nurturing and goes straight to ‘buy me!’, but building trust through awareness and consideration stage content sets the scene for loyal, and even evangelical, customers.

It’s pretty tempting to hit your potential customers with all the reasons they’d love your product, but the people reading a company blog aren’t doing it for the hard sales.

Your potential customers are already surrounded by advertising that bleats ‘buy me, buy me, buy me’ - a tiresome refrain that doesn’t endure them to brands in the long run, especially if you’re doing content marketing, inbound marketing or running a company blog. With an abundance of interesting, relevant and helpful content widely available, brand content needs to compete with it to remain relevant  You can’t simply repackage hard-sell advertising as a blog post.  As David Ogilvy said, “You cannot bore people into buying your product; you can only interest them in buying it.” This statement has never been more relevant than it is today.

With more and more brands doing this type of marketing, keeping your content interesting and competitive is key, and you’re not going to do it with advertising wrapped up a blog post, especially because potential customers can enter the buying journey at any stage - awareness, consideration or decision. Says HubSpot “The internet has made it easier for marketers (and salespeople) to engage customers at the various stages of their journey using content marketing. That’s one of the main reasons that 88% of B2B marketers are using custom content marketing (up 86% from 2015), and 76% of marketers plan to produce more content this year.”

It’s exactly because it works so well that content and inbound marketing are a hugely growing marketing strategy. To quote Contently, a content marketing specialist, “As this Google Trends graph shows, interest in ‘content marketing’ has climbed steadily since 2011, but in Q4 of 2015, it jumped 20 percent, growing as much in two months as it did over the past two years.”

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Looking at Inbound marketing in particular, content attracts potential customers to the brand and nurtures them to purchase through the buyer’s journey - from awareness stage content, to consideration and ultimately the customer arrives at the decision stage informed and ready to buy. We are seeing this happen daily

The  80/20 rule is a good gauge to measure your content. “It simply comes down to this: use just 20% of your content to promote your brand, and dedicate 80% to content that really interests your audience and engages them in conversations,” writes Social Media Today.

By adding value through useful and engaging content, the 20% product specific sales conversation also adds value. That’s why at INBOUND16, the Inbound Marketing Conference of the year, Brian Halligan of Hubspot made the bold statement: “Cold calling is dead.”

Data backs this up; companies with a consideration stage strategy see a 4-10 times higher response rate to their marketing efforts.

Says UpContent, “The rule states that 80% of the content you put out should be educational and interesting to your audience, but non-promotional. 20% of your content should be promotional: linking back to your website, talking about your specials or deals, or promoting new content you’ve published.”

Using the 80/20 rule means that you’re speaking to customers in the right way, at the right time, and tailoring content to their needs based on their online actions. You may not even realise it, but we’ve stuck to our own advice, and this portion of the post is dedicated to the /20 part of the rule.


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