Sara is a successful content marketer who painstakingly built her career through years of hard work. Today she has a meeting with a prospective client, and a promising one at that. About five minutes in, the following exchange takes place.
“My last campaign boosted my client’s average session duration by a full minute. A minute! Per article! That’s pretty great, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is. So, let’s talk about–“
“Oh, and on the campaign before that, I doubled conversion rates for a client that hadn’t seen growth in months. Wanna know how I did it?”
“Ok, why not?”
“Content, my friend. Content. Oh, and tons of social media promotion.”
“That’s great. Speaking of content, I was wondering if we could talk about my upcoming–“
“Yeah yeah, your upcoming thingamawhatsit. I’ve got a system that will take care of it all. Seriously, I spent a long time perfecting my methods, and they totally work. All we have to do is plug in a few pieces of information and you’ll be rolling in likes and shares and upvotes.”
“Did I mention the CTR increases for my last three clients? Let me find that chart real quick…”
“Uh-huh, ok. I’m gonna grab a coffee while you do that.”
“Oh, sure, sounds great. You know, I have a secret to making really good coffee. You need to grind the beans by hand, you see, and then–“
All right, enough of that. This snippet of conversation is a mildly exaggerated version of the “look at me” approach taken by some content marketers. These people spend their days staring dreamy-eyed at career successes and thinking of ways to use that information to sell their skills to new clients. As astute readers will have noticed, though, this approach leaves out one crucial part of the equation:
The client. Oops.
It’s perfectly natural for a content marketer to want to boast. It’s a results-driven business, after all, and nobody’s going to hire a loser. Swiveling the spotlight around and pointing it to the trophy case is hardly the most effective way to build a relationship, though. It’s short-sighted, it’s formulaic, and honestly, it’s really annoying to listen to.
Sara demonstrated her focus is on herself, not her clients. She wants results because it will sound impressive during her next meeting. But is the current client happy with the work? Possibly. Were obstacles overcome and new ventures launched into the world? Eh, maybe. Sara doesn’t fret over that stuff too much. She’s in it for herself, truth be told.
Situations like this sometimes do provide results for both parties. It’s more up to Lady Luck than hard work or skill, however. It also speaks to a deeper deficiency in the relationship, one that rarely leads to good fortune in the future.
Businesses do not succeed by numbers alone. It takes confidence, passion, and innovation, things that aren’t always found on a spreadsheet. This is a crucial point to consider. It’s not about how awesome the marketer is or how impressive her results look. It’s about the client. What do they need to make it to the next level? What are they struggling with and how can a fresh content strategy help them? Success is defined on a per-business level, not by the notches on a content marketer’s belt.
A more fruitful way to approach a relationship like this is to put the client’s needs at the center of everything. Forget the bragging and the posturing, let’s talk about daily struggles and long term strategies. By keeping the focus on the client, a content marketer can devote the entirety of their attention to the future of the business. They’re not thinking about how to sell their skills in the next meeting. Their only goal is bringing quality content and personalized results to the representative sitting in front of them.
A good content marketer instantly connects with clients and communicates an honest desire to learn about the business. Only by understanding the challenges unique to this organization can they leverage their experience to build a sound content strategy. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Those shiny trophies in the back might as well be for junior league hockey.
Despite the obvious benefits of connecting with attentive content marketing professionals, people like Sara still find clients throughout the business world. How does this happen? Through persistence, mostly, but also a touch of human nature.
Organizations that work with marketers like Sara aren’t doing so because her accomplishments knocked their socks off. They sign the contract because somewhere in that laundry list of achievements they caught a glimpse of common ground.
Sara isn’t without some skill. She’s also passionate, dedicated, and obsessed with statistics. These things do have benefits to business owners. Why not bring her on, since she obviously has so much in common with company’s core philosophies? And hey, she wears the same kind of glasses as the accountant. It must be a sign!
It’s natural to want to find common ground with people, especially when a profitable relationship is on the table. But the “look at me” style of content marketing is a lot of posturing without a lot of substance. That common ground doesn’t go very deep. It’s a thin coat of paint on a rusty old card. Instead of making snap decisions, a company’s best bet is to side with the content marketer that sides with them.
No one knows a business better than the owner. Once a content marketer has established the depth of their experience with a few well-chosen bragging points, it’s time to stop the me-me-me talk, lean forward and say “Now, Client McClientperson, let’s talk about your struggles and your needs, and let’s do something about them.”
Want to hear about all the cool things the Content Viking team has done in the past? Just kidding, we’d rather talk about you! Contact us today and we’ll chat about how quality content can help shape your company’s future. Alternatively, if you’re looking to become a legit marketer who actually knows their stuff, check out these accredited courses.