Your Prospects Think Marketing Is B.S. [& What to Do About It]

Why You Need Promotion-Free Content Marketing [Research]

Forget the Mad Men. More than half of consumers believe that “most marketing is a bunch of B.S.” according to recent Adobe research. Less than one in seven considers marketing, advertising or PR to be of value to society.

Before you abandon your marketing plans and your career, examine this research and you’ll find the case for promotion-free content marketing.

Skip digital advertising if you don’t want to piss prospects off.

Almost half of respondents agreed that “online advertising is creepy and stalks you.” Further, 68% of consumers consider it annoying, 51% consider it distracting, and 38% consider it invasive. While this doesn’t mean that digital advertising doesn’t work, digital advertising has a good chance of pissing your prospects off.

Instead use less intrusive ways to attract new prospects and build trust with them. Non-promotional content marketing fulfills these objectives well. Research by Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs revealed that 69% of B2B marketers consider placed articles on other websites as an effective content marketing tactic. (Here are more findings from the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Research.)

Consumers tend to trust traditional advertising specifically magazines, newspapers and television over digital advertising.

Print advertising has almost 50% approval because it isn’t intrusive. Print allows readers to spend as long as they wish with specific ads. Magazines are often tailored to readers’ tastes and provide styles and other information. As a result, prospects turn to magazines to find out about the latest products. This is particularly true for fashion and other targeted consumer magazines like cars.

Websites provide useful information for customers.

About one in five customers like company websites. It’s a consumer-controlled experience that’s limited to the sites that prospects want to visit. For marketers this is important since this is owned media where you can place quality content marketing to show off your product, answer prospect questions and demonstrate how to style and use your offering.

While seven out of ten consumers use social media, it doesn’t necessarily sell.

About two-thirds of consumers have liked a brand and over half would like to have a dislike button. In other words, consumers want to be able to express both their positive and negative feelings about brands. (Here’s research on the value of a like.)

While social media activity influences some followers, understand that it has no impact on about a third of them. After seeing a friend’s like, about three out of ten consumers will check out the product, about one out of ten will visit the website, and a mere 2% will purchase the product. As a marketer, it’s important to remember that participants are on social media to connect with their family, friends and colleagues. 

Leverage the power of content marketing to win over prospects.

To attract prospects, provide content marketing that they trust and eliminate the promotion. Here are five ways to use content marketing.

  1. Tell a unique story. Don’t just sell. People love stories. They have a beginning, middle and end which makes them memorable. Integrate your organization’s stories into your content marketing to help prospects.
  2. Use video because it’s worth 1,000 words. Prospects like to see what your product looks like from all directions. Videos allow you to show your products in action and provide how tos. Further, they can be entertaining.  Therefore, where possible include video to put your product in context for your customers.
  3. Offer user product reviews.  Roughly three out of ten consumers trust people they know for recommendations, specifically family, friends and colleagues. This is old-fashioned word of mouth.  At its core this is the reason that customer reviews work in the aggregate, which is the wisdom of crowds. Incorporate reviews into your website for your products or customers will leave to gather the information elsewhere. While reviews show the good, bad and ugly of a product, understand that even less than stellar reviews can sell your products.
  4. Provide in-store experiences. Online experiences can’t replicate seeing the product in real life. Customers want to be able to see and touch the products they plan to buy. This is why showrooming has become an increasingly popular customer behavior. Retail establishments provide real life information and content. Customers will go view products at stores and then purchase via mobile or online to get the best price and terms.
  5. Show what celebrities wear / like. Customers use celebrity images as styling how-tos. This is attributable to the fact that stars are trendsetters. It’s at the heart of why companies try to get celebrities to attend high visibility functions wearing their clothes and other products.

Even though the majority of customers consider marketing to be B.S., you can still leverage the power of content marketing to provide them with the product information they seek and help them make purchase decisions. This means providing useful content that answers their pre-purchase questions without pissing them off or feeling creepy.

How do you respond to customers’ dislike of marketing and advertising? Do you find that content marketing helps you break through the noise?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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