Why You Can’t Afford $25 Blog Posts
I had to read the email three times before it sank in.
This marketing manager had contacted me several weeks earlier about our content marketing services, on the grounds that they just weren’t happy with the content their current provider was delivering. It wasn’t generating traffic, it wasn’t engaging, people weren’t responding to it.
I took a look at what they had going on, and sure enough, their blog posts read like something written by a sixth-grader.
So I sent her a lovely proposal for some kickass content that would drive traffic to their site, grow their thought leadership, and let them start building a loyal, enthusiastic following.
Then I got the email …
“After reviewing your proposal, we’ve decided to stick with our current blogging service. They’re only charging us $25 per post, and we feel like we’re getting excellent value for the money.”
Ummm … what?
Apparently this client is willing to forego the chance to build a loyal audience if it means saving a few bucks.
What they don’t realize is that this crap content isn’t simply not helping them. It’s actually hurting their brand.
Why “You’re Not Rich Enough to Buy Cheap”
My lovely friend Ariana, a gifted interior designer, once shared with me a translated saying from her native Croatia: “You’re not rich enough to buy cheap.”
You know, like that time you “went cheap” in hiring a plumber … only to have to turn around and hire the more expensive professionals anyway, to fix the other guy’s screwups in addition to solving the original problem. By going cheap, you wound up paying more than if you’d just hired the pros from the start.
I see it all the time in the marketing world. A company hires a bargain-basement freelancer to write their website content, only to have her deliver a product that’s completely unusable. Then they realize why they need someone like me … after they’ve already paid her.
But when it comes to content marketing — the content that you put out week after week — going cheap and getting an inferior product isn’t just a poorly informed decision that you can fix by hiring a qualified content creator. Here’s why.
Bad website content can be rewritten, and new visitors will never know the difference. A monstrosity of a brochure can be re-done to make a wonderful first impression for your brand. But when you publish bad content on your blog, on social media, in emails, and in other venues, you’re not just presenting your brand in a bad light. You’re giving bad customer service.
Content Marketing as Customer Service
Most of us think of content marketing as … well, as marketing. As a way of putting our brands out there in a way that makes current and potential customers want to engage with us.
But think of content marketing from your audience’s point of view. Ever wonder why we use the phrase “pay attention?” Today as never before, attention is currency. Confronted with thousands of messages every moment of every day, audiences do not take lightly the decision of where to focus their attention.
So yes, there is a distinct economy of content marketing. Brands have the product (our content) and the people in our audience have the currency with which to purchase it (their attention).
So if Annie Q. Audience clicks on a link promising to deliver what she’s looking for and encounters a flimsy, cliché-riddled post that reads as if it were written by a ten-year-old … no big deal, right?
Because Annie isn’t just a “user.” She’s a customer, a consumer of our content who has willingly ceded a scarce resource — her attention — with the expectation of receiving something of value in return.
And the brand behind that content has failed her.
Will Annie go to Yelp and complain about this brand’s bad content? Will she leave a comment along the lines of “wow, this post is really lame”? Will she contact the marketing manager to complain about her poor experience?
No, no, and no. What she will do is roll her eyes and click the “back” button — never to return and never, ever again to pay you any attention.
What Crap Content Really Says About You
Take a second to think about the experience that your business offers your customers. Think about the comfy leather chairs in your lobby. Think about your decision to have a friendly receptionist answer the phone instead of an automated system. Think about the season tickets to the Houston Rockets games where you entertain current and prospective clients.
Do you really need any of that stuff?
Technically, no. You could run your business just fine without all those trappings. But you have them in place so that you can offer a positive brand experience.
Why should your attitude towards your content be any different?
We wouldn’t think about having visitors to our offices sit on plastic lawn chairs … and yet many of us are perfectly okay with offering crap content as a first impression of our organizations.
When people visit your blog and come across garbage content, you’re telling them one of two things:
- “We know you came looking for good content, and we don’t know how to give it to you.” In other words, we kinda know you need something from us, but we haven’t bothered to figure out how to deliver it well. Either that, or we just have no idea what we’re doing. (How’s that for a brand attribute?)
- “We know you came looking for good content, and we don’t give a shit.”
When you look at content marketing in this light, it’s easier to understand what Joe Pulizzi was talking about when he told the crowd at Content Marketing World 2016, “Mediocre content will hurt your brand more than doing nothing at all.”
How to Turn the Ship Around
I doubt that any marketing manager wakes up on any given morning, smacks her head, and says, “Holy crap! We’ve got bad content!”
But there are clues that can indicate your content might not be up to par. Low traffic. High bounce rates. Low engagement on social media. Low conversion rates. Dwindling email lists. If any of these are plaguing you, it might be time for an honest assessment of your content quality.
And if you do have a problem with crap content, you can do one of two things:
- Get serious about quality. Bite the bullet and start putting time, effort, and yes, money towards delivering consistently high-quality content.
- Stop. Pull the plug on everything. I’m serious. If you can’t — or won’t — muster the resources to deliver quality content on a consistent basis, it’s better that you do nothing at all. Sure, you might miss out on some traffic. But at least you won’t be embarrassing yourself.
Look, we didn’t all sign on to this content marketing thing so that we can spatter some words on a web page once a week. We signed on to build relationships, with the idea that some of those relationships will eventually lead to revenue.
When you serve up crap content to a visitor who has decided to pay you some attention, you’re telling her either you don’t know what you’re doing or you don’t care. If that’s true of your content, what’s to tell her it’s not true of everything else you do?
And that, dear one, is why you can’t afford $25 blog posts — and neither can anyone else.
Find out why Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, had this to say about The Content Marketing Coach: Everything You Need to Get in the Game … and WIN:
“A simple yet effective guide to an approach that most businesses get flat out wrong. Do yourself and your business a favor and take a deep dive into this book. You won’t regret it.”
About the Author
A self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).
As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and author of the book The Content Marketing Coach: Everything You Need to Get in the Game … and WIN!
Comments are closed.