Content marketing is most definitely a part of Social Selling. They really work hand-in-hand, just like how Social Selling can be pretty easily implemented into a broader sales strategy.
That’s a big reason why this story is so distressing to me. I hope companies that are utilizing social selling and content marketing aren’t doing what the company with which I had recent dealings did to me.
Here’s what happened.
I was out and about in early December of 2014, and stopped into my neighborhood Starbucks for a quick joe fix. While there, I decided to do some quick emailing and a bit of research on a project. In one of those “link-from-a-link-from-a link” situations, I stumbled across a study that addresses the subject I’m researching. So I filled out the lead-capture form that was a bit more complex than I would have designed, and then downloaded it.
That’s when it happened. “She” showed up. The overly attached content marketer. (It was actually a “he” in this case, but I don’t want to ruin the “overly attached girlfriend” imagery). We’ll call him OACM, so I don’t have to type out that phrase. Every. Single. Time.
Within a very short time of downloading the report, I received an email from my voicemail system, telling me I had just gotten a phone call at my office. Since my VoIP provider also does voice-to-text transcription (not well, but good enough to understand the gist of the voicemail), I know the message was left from someone by this particular company.
Right then and there, I had the “overly attached girlfriend” vision from the popular Internet meme… something like this:
If I would have read the report right then and there (my plan was to save it for later, because coffee fix), I would have had barely enough time to digest it before OACM called. And from what I can tell from the transcription, OACM wanted to know a bunch of things about myself and my company. I wouldn’t have told him that stuff anyways.
But that’s not all.
Within minutes of the download and voicemail, I received two (yes, two) emails from this company. One was asking if I wanted a demo. The other one provided some stats and asked for a return call.
At that point, I felt like I was on the receiving end of this:
Guess what? I’m in a COFFEE SHOP. There’s no way I’m taking action on anything right now. And I thought I was on caffeine.
My experience also serves as a warning to those using content marketing, either as part of a Social Selling strategy or as a stand-alone game plan. When designing your response staging, you can’t assume that the person who just downloaded a report (or took whatever action you offered to enter into the campaign) is just sitting there, waiting for your call, email, text, etc.
I think part of the problem here is that the content marketer in question is a company that’s directly involved with helping other firms with the sales process. Judging from their aggressiveness, I’m guessing their sales philosophy is definitely more “hunter, quick-kill” like. With this in mind, it’s no surprise its rep is all over me like a spilled beer from the idiot behind me at a baseball game. (Seriously, that swill went everywhere.)
Such a response string is a turn-off, plain and simple. What this company needs is to learn how to “stage” its responses, both with email and in follow-up calling. There’s several techniques that can be used; none of them like the OACM’s approach.
If there’s just one lesson I can teach from this, it’s to not leap all over a prospect when they come through your company’s virtual door via Social Selling and/or content marketing. If you do, your business won’t come off any better than a stereotypical used-car store. Here’s a couple of general rules to follow:
- Take your time in following up, especially if your company sells in a business-to-business environment. If your initial content is strong enough, your new prospect will remember you.
- Initially follow up with just one email. I know you may have the urge to pick up the phone. Just drop that handset/mobile phone… for now.
- If you really want to call, do so… but in one day to two days, minimum. If nothing else, you’ll be avoiding the used-car salesperson stereotype in doing this.
- After the call is made (not completed with a contact; just made) put the lead into an effective drip email campaign. You’ll attract more prospect bees with honey than vinegar. Drip email campaigns are definitely honey, especially if you build in offers, other content, etc.
And right now, the OACM’s company is most definitely vinegar to me.
UPDATE 03/27/15: In the months after I originally posted this article on LinkedIn, this story actually went from bad to worse. Let’s just say the company in question really gives Social Selling and content marketing a bad name.
The company rep in question kept emailing me, which is fine. I’m guessing I was in a drip campaign, which is definitely part of content marketing. The content itself in the emails was okay, too.
But then the calls began… again. And they wouldn’t stop. At least four in a four-week period (I lost count, actually). Each one with an obnoxious voicemail about how I downloaded a report, and I must be interested in the company’s services because of it, and hard-selling for a call-back from me. And on the last two calls, the sales rep had the audacity to mark his messages as “urgent.”
The seemingly non-stop calling and urgent-voicemail message tagging has guaranteed that I will never, ever buy from this company. I also unsubscribed from their emails. At least I haven’t gotten any calls since the unsubscribe.
This whole experience proves that Social Selling and content marketing needs to be conducted with a mink-lined glove, not a sharp-edged ice pick. I beg my fellow content marketers to NOT conduct yourselves in the way this company did.
Portions of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.