Content Marketing: You’re Not Selling “Words,” So Stop Buying Them

Content Marketing: You're Not Selling "Words," So Stop Buying ThemOver the years, I’ve worked with a number of really amazing editors and writers — many of whom are now looking to pursue content marketing work. They often have questions about how I made that transition successfully.

It’s rarely a question of the quality of their work. Rather, it’s the way they sell themselves to the marketing folks they are trying to work with. They use the jargon of publishing, instead of adopting that of marketing.

My refrain: “Nobody in marketing gets up in the morning thinking ‘today I’m going to buy a bunch of words.’”

Thinking on that, I think I might have been premature in that declaration. There are still plenty of people in marketing who cling to notions that writing is commodity work, or else the content mills wouldn’t have so many willing (if often disappointed) takers for their pennies-per-word promise.

Real marketing pros judge themselves by the quantity and quality of leads they generate for their company, and how smoothly those leads can be turned into sales.

They don’t judge themselves by how many campaigns they run, how many ad impressions they got or how many hours it took them to make a press release publishable.

It’s the difference between results and activity.

Likewise, number of words and hours worked is a meaningless way to judge the value of your writers and editors. So stop judging — and paying — them that way. If you’re selling expensive stuff, stop trying to negotiate your content creators down to poverty wages.

Instead, ask yourself: What’s a qualified lead worth to the company? What’s the value of this content asset in the context of my overall marketing strategy?

Determine your content budget based on that, and then go find the editorial and topical expertise you need to make the project a success. It’s out there — just not at pennies per word.

Reputation Capital Media Services is a Baton Rouge marketing agency that helps B2B companies and their marketing agencies produce high-quality digital content, including blog posts, e-mail newsletters, white papers and multimedia. Our editors and writers are experts in their fields, which include HR technology, employee benefits, and financial services and accounting. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to find out how great content can help you attract and retain your customers.

Mary Ellen Slayter is managing director of Reputation Capital Media Services. Before creating her own content marketing firm, she served as director of content development and a senior general business and finance editor at SmartBrief, a leading publisher of e-mail newsletters. Before joining SmartBrief, she spent 8 years at The Washington Post, where she authored the Career Track column and worked as an editor in the business news department. You can find Mary Ellen on Twitter @MESlayter.

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