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Content Marketing Sucks

stopDear Reader,

I have a confession, I am a marketer. I have been involved in Content Marketing campaigns. I’m sorry.

Content Marketing is the worst thing to happen to the web since banner ads. Before I ramp up this tirade into full-on rant, let me define exactly what I am talking about.

A Content Marketing campaign is an attempt by marketers to create relevant content for the audience they are trying to reach. Marketers have “Persona Profiles”; cheat sheets that describe who their audience members are.  For example:

  • Al Neuman – CEO
  • Al Jaffee – VP of IT
  • Sergio Aragones – Developer Manager
  • Don Martin – PHP Developer
  • etc.

Good marketing departments work up complex profiles describing these people. They interview current customers and use the answers to build a composite. There is nothing wrong with any of this, this is good marketing. The problem is that in some shops, what comes next is not good marketing.

In shops that do not understand, what happens next is a brainstorming session. In this session, marketers sit around and think up ideas for articles that they think will be of interest to these people. The idea is simple, if you can get them to visit your site to read an article, they may stick around and look at your product. If nothing else, if they keep seeing articles from your blog crossing their twitter/facebook/whatever stream, they will begin to think of you as an authority. This is content marketing.

Do you see the problem here?

Marketers think up the articles. 

When it comes to companies trying to attract the attention of developers, this means that interns and art directors alike are trying to put themselves in your shoes and figure out articles that you might like.

The end result invariably is content that absolutely no developer is ever interested in. I will not link to examples of this behavior, my goal is not to embarrass anyone. You know them though, you see them every day and rarely do you click on them. As developers, we can usually sense link-bait from a long way away.

I will however, call out 3 examples of content marketing done right. You know it is done right because it isn’t content marketing, it is just useful content.

Each of these – yes, there is one in there from me – is a great example of content marketing. Why? Because it’s not marketing at all, it’s helpful information that developers can use. Articles like that help the companies that post them because developer start to trust them. They build “thought leadership”. They show that the company that posed it is interested in helping developers first, then showing them what they have to offer.

Content Marketing sucks. If that is what you are doing, stop, you are just filling up Google with useless bits. Focus your energy on writing something that will actually help someone.

Until next time,
I <3 |<


Photo Credit: Stop Sign by Bridget AMES

Are You a Digital Landowner or Sharecropper?

Social networks are great for business. They allow you to connect with a wide audience and interact with them in ways that websites don’t always allow.

Brands from Coca-Cola down to local bakeries are using them to interact with their customers. It is understandable, then, why business owners are flocking to set up shop on social networks and sometimes forgoing the building their own websites in favor of a social network presence.

Is this the smart way to go though? Is a Facebook page really worth more than your own website?

Read my entire post, Are You a Digital Landowner or Sharecropper?, over at

Being on Facebook Does Not Make You Social

The mantra of today’s social media mavens is that you have to be on Facebook.

Some will tell you that to market your widget, you have to get involved on Facebook and be a part of the conversation. That works wonderfully for many companies. If you sell pest control,however, there might not be that many people that want to talk to you on a daily basis. They don’t want to talk to you unless they have a problem. And therein lies the crux of the problem. For a lot of companies out there, both B2B and B2C, social media marketing may not be right for you.

I did a highly un-scientific study recently to discover how people interact with brands on Facebook; I asked my kids. (“Kids” is a relative term, they are late-teens and early twenties.) I asked them “Which brands do you interact with on Facebook?”

Read my entire post at

Book Review: All Marketers Tell Stories

Dear Reader,

I LOVE spring in Tennessee. On top of some of the most beautiful weather in the country, the afternoons are warm enough to sit out in the back forty and read while smoking my pipe. Spring and summer are when I get most of my reading done for that very reason. I don’t read a lot in the winter because if I am inside, I feel the strong draw of the keyboard.

I have resigned myself to the fact that I am mostly a marketer disguised as a developer. I still get to write code every now and then but most of what I write these days are blog posts, articles and presentations. Having come to this realization, I decided that if I am going to get any better at it, I need to learn something about marketing, thus a trip to the local bookstore was in order. (Ok, a trip to the local bookstore is always in order in our family.)

Five Twitter “Rules of Engagement”

Dear Reader,

Of late I’ve watched several companies start to use twitter without a clue or a strategy. Here are my Five Twitter Rules of Engagement that will help companies get the most value out of twitter. (or at the very least keep them from embarrassing themselves.)

  1. Do not ask for advice that you are not willing or unable to act on.
    I see a lot of companies asking “Tell us how we can make it better”. If you say that, really mean it. If you ask me how to improve your cell-phone design and I tell you it needs to be 1/2 its current size for me to like it, don’t argue with me about it, you asked my opinion. If you can’t make it’s 1/2 the size or worse yet, if you have no intention of making substantial changes in the product based on solicited feedback, just don’t ask.
  2. Be sincere
    This is closely related to #1. When someone criticizes your product, sincerely thank them for taking the time to review your product. Even if all they say is “I f’n hate product X” At least they took the time to look at your product. If you really want to know why, ask them but ask sincerely. If you know why and are already fixing it, let them know. If you know why and can’t/won’t fix it, ignore them. You will not change their mind by arguing for your product in 140 chr. bites. Just let it go, you can’t please everyone.
  3. Engage with a purpose
    Again, closely linked to point #1, make sure that you have a reason to engage someone publicly before engaging. Defend your product and its honor when necessary. However, don’t feel the need to engage or even acknowledge every public tweet. Engage someone when you can make a positive difference in the situation.
  4. Do not argue
    Nobody who seriously wants to engage with your company is interested in arguing with you. If you argue publicly there are really only two outcomes.
    1. The person you are engaging bests you and you look like a fool
    2. You best person you are engaging, they feel like a fool, and they never do business with you.

    If I am your customer and I say your product sucks, don’t argue the point with me. Obviously, I have a reason for thinking this and you need to engage me constructively to find that reason and see if you can correct it.

  5. Move it off-line quickly
    This one is the most important of them all. When someone says that your customer service sucks, don’t publicly acknowledge it, privately acknowledge it and ask how you can help. If you can’t find an email address or IM account for the person, then publicly reply asking them to follow you so you can DM them. Get it out of the public timeline and engage the person one-on-one. If you can solve the problem, do so. Once it is completely solved and you’ve made a new friend, then if you are comfortable with the person, ask them to tweet that they got the problem resolved. Chances are, they are so surprised that they have already done this but you need some closure on the issue publicly. If they don’t feel comfortable announcing the resolution then you can but it has more impact if they do it.

None of this is rocket science so it always astounds me that companies don’t know this stuff. PR departments already know these things but the line level employees don’t. Here’s a clue, the responses from line-level employees are much more effective than the ones being regurgitated out of the PR/Marketing department. Don’t try and clamp down on these people, train them, teach them how to respond and teach them who to go to with issues. Most importantly, teach them these rules of engagement.

Until next time,