Everywhere you turn, a website wants your email. Even if you are just passing by, those shitty, annoying pop-up signups hover in your face actually preventing you from accessing the internet (that website at least) without parting with an email address.
I know it is easy enough to provide a dummy email address that you never check, but still, it goes against the spirit of the internet.
When you are prepared to register, you land n an awful Autoresponder email series that annoys the shit out of you BEFORE you have even downloaded the promised whitepaper that that you thought you were interested in.
And then of course, despite all the advice from the newly minted gurus of content marketing, the alleged ‘content’ turns out to be nothing more than a soft sales pitch.
And all this insincerity SHOWS.
Not so long ago, an agency (I am looking at YOU Hothouse) promoted a FREE Customer Experience Design Workshop. Being in that business myself, I thought it is a good opportunity to check in and listen and learn.
A few things to note:
· The target audience is larger companies. (Read ‘prospects’.) I found this out when I placed a follow-up call.
· I am sure they could perceive me as a competitor or maybe even a freeloader. (And they would be wrong – at least in the first instance.)
· And I grant them the right to select who they want to have at their events (including not having me) – that is what a free market means.
But that same freedom allows me to call them on it, so here goes:
1. If you are preaching ‘customer experience’ but you don’t respond to the registration to confirm the attendance (as promised) then I am not sure I am going to learn from you.
2. If you are genuine about sharing content, then you must be able to deal with even if a competitor attends. If you knew anything about the world, you’d know that there are no secrets and IP has gone the path of petticoats and betamax.
3. But it is not all bad news. At least it was easy to unsubscribe to the email list – not like some douchebrands out there.
The main lessons to be learned are this:
· When you try to be anything other than what you authentically are, you will fail. (If you try to be funny, you never are. If you have to try to stay focussed, you probably aren’t. If you have to try and enjoy something you probably aren’t. If you have to try and make something viral, you probably won’t. If you have to try to sell without appearing to sell, you probably won’t.)
· Everyone can spot a fake. And I mean EVERYONE!
· Content Marketing may have been a good idea at a time when no one did it, but when everyone does it, the overload reaches spamming proportions. Maybe you want your brand to be equated with a spam folder but I certainly won’t.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
I used to create newsletters, sending them out religiously every month. Open rates (according to Constant Contact) was that open rates were well above industry averages, but still only in the high 30%s. I NEVER – in 6 years – got any business from them – even though they were pretty good, or at least informative and interesting. Here is the last one I did in Jan 2013. I realised my folly. Even though I never tried to sell anything, one would expect to get some kind of flow-on effect.
The only responses I did get, was, once a year, when I put out a Pro Bono post offering our services for free to first comers. (Our way of ‘putting back’ into the industry.) We always have a few people put their hands up and we gave willingly as promised with no expectation of anything in return. (Which is a good thing, because those expectations would have been cruelly dashed.)
Content is dying because, even though my content was good, there is obviously better content. There is ALWAYS better content and with so much of it around, nothing but the very best will get accessed. Even then, it better be free. And even if it is free, there are increasingly lower returns on it.
And we all know what happens when return on investment drop, right?
Besides, I think there is enough content to last us several lifetimes, and judging by what I am reading at the moment, there is very little new stuff – the ‘mash up disease’ has spread to all content.
Maybe we will figure out soon enough that even the internet is not about content, but about people. And if you want me to help your business, it will cost money. Because I am, as the pretty girl said on TV, worth it.