Making carrots into candy bars: Internet Marketing and content
Ian Lurie May 6 2010
Imagine you sell something that no one wants to talk, read or even think about. Like estate planning, or feline incontinence treatments (if you had a 21-year-old cat, you’ll know I’m not lying). You know you’re supposed to have a content strategy, and get out there on Twitter and Facebook and write and engage and stuff. But seriously, who wants to?
Your problem: You’ve got a carrot. It’s necessary, it’s healthy and everyone needs what it’s got. But given the choice between a carrot and a candy bar, most sane humans will scarf down the candy bar and run.
Your mission: Turn the carrot into a candy bar.
By the way, this post replies to Mark’s question:
“What would you suggest to a start-up company in a very competitive industry e.g. Financial Services how to market themselves online when they don’t have the big budgets yet that are needed nowadays to start an long term and effective SEO strategy? Social Media seems an option, but who wants to talk about a mortgage or bank loan on Facebook or Twitter?”
Mark, you’re right. No one wants to talk about their mortgage or bank account on Facebook or Twitter. It’s like going to a nice restaurant to have your teeth drilled, or, well, skipping the Kit Kat and eating a carrot instead. It might be the right thing to do, but it’s utterly unsatisfying.
You’re gonna need to make that carrot into candy.
Sweetening the deal on your site
People want to read stuff that’s remarkable, or entertaining, or hilariously funny, or shocking, or super-informative.
You’re going to need to find topics that are connected to your subject and write about them, instead.
10 ways to mortgage your soul could be a list of things you can do to generate bad karma or otherwise be a schmuck. And, you can tie it all to the mortgage metaphor by saying things like “Puppy kicking may seem fun now, but the balloon payment 80 years from now is pretty rough”. I’m not joking – you should be wildly creative. The worst that happens? No one reads it.
Bilbo’s bank account: What LOTR characters would have in their checking accounts, if they had them. I’m a nerd, so I get sweaty with the possibilities.
Regardless, you need to sweeten the deal. You add sugar by taking a slight left turn away from your core subject and having some fun with it.
Note that you can and should mix in serious stuff, too. You can also find topics that will entertain and teach/sell at the same time.
Adding a tasty chocolate shell on Twitter and Facebook
Out in the social media world, you’ve got the same challenge. You can’t just start giving mortgage advice. You can’t search for folks typing ‘mortgage’, either. 99% of them are trying to sell their services. It’s 1,000,000 salespeople, all selling to each other.
What you can do, though, is point people back to your entertaining, ‘sweetened’ content. Then, from those pages, you link to related ‘serious’ stuff.
You can also talk about other related topics: Give your take on financial news. Certainly no lack of entertainment in that space these days. Done right, it’ll build your following. Then you’ll have more folks to tell about your latest blog post.
Yes, you’re going to have to write
Notice one thing, though: You’re going to have to write, a lot. There’s no way around it. Either you write the great attention bait, or you pay for it. I’m just presenting you with a productive strategy for doing the former.
I hope this helps!
I actually quite like carrots. They’re one of my favorite foods. But if you offer me a Kit Kat in one hand and a carrot in the other, the Kit Kat hand runs a far higher risk of returning as a bloody stump. It’s just life, I guess.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More