We are undoubtedly living in a data-driven, measurable, connected, streamlined, synergized, [insert additional buzzword here] world. The things we’re able to accomplish today with the internet would’ve been incomprehensible 20 to 30 years ago.
This especially applies to the realm of marketing given that more than half of the world’s population are active social media users from their mobile devices alone. Meaning, roughly 4 BILLION people can be marketed or sold to on any given day. Of the billions — if not trillions — of transactions that take place on a daily basis, all you need to do is intermediate a tiny fraction of them to make a handsome living. Truly, the opportunity here cannot be overstated.
The thing about human nature, however, is that our perception of something often over-weights its first-order effects and under-weights the second and third-order effects. Our nearsightedness causes us to forget that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. In the marketing sphere, the ease with which we can put eyeballs on our products and services is almost a double-edged sword. Just because we can advertise our message with a call-to-action to thousands of people a day, does that mean we SHOULD?
It depends. If the product you’re selling is a $10 coffee mug or a $27 info product, then sure — have at it. Most people don’t really bat an eye at such purchases. But a $5,000+ B2B monthly retainer? You’d be hard-pressed to find a buyer who is willing, both fiscally and emotionally, to part with a sum of money like that so readily.
You see, the difference between these two categories is colossal. Yet, most marketers don’t treat it as such. What a coffee mug or info product brings to the table is straightforward — you either want one or you don’t. A four to five-figure a month B2B solution, on the other hand, is a completely different case. Most of the time these B2B companies aren’t even aware that they have a problem. And if they do, there’s a lot of air to clear up before striking a deal. Thus, it would be both impractical and rude to pressure them with CTA’s in the same way you would somebody just looking for a new pair of sneakers.
What’s more, everybody and your mama are competing for the 2 percent of buyers who are *actually* ready to make a decision right now. What it comes down to, for them, is who’s SEO, paid media, landing pages, and lead magnets are the most effective. It’s almost as if they’re working on perfecting their last-second buzzer beaters instead of putting in the work earlier on in the game. Meanwhile, it seems most businesses are turning a blind eye to the remaining 98 percent: the buyers of the future. Just because somebody doesn’t need your solution today doesn’t mean they couldn’t benefit from it later on.
Thus is the essence of content marketing. By strategically surrendering the immediate first-order effects (i.e., revenue and data) and maintaining a “buyer centric” approach to marketing, one can bask in the second and third-order effects that entail increased future demand, shorter sales cycles, and higher win rates. The upfront cost, of course, being far smaller than the future payout.
Life is meant to be enjoyed, seized, etc — I get that. But I’ll also contend that the biggest victors in life are, by and large, those that are able to defer their gratification just a little bit longer than most other people. For the victors it isn’t about an immediate ROI; it’s about what the long-term impact could be. For example, it’s nearly impossible to measure the impact of a single workout. However, after a year of consistency in the weight room the added ten pounds of muscle to one’s frame are extremely apparent. Similarly, for content marketers we can’t really measure the impact of any given LinkedIn post without a call-to-action. But we will, after a few months of consistent content output, notice how much shorter our sales cycles are and how much higher our win rates have become.
All it requires is a generous spirit and the acceptance that nothing happens over night.
Come to think of it, a buyer centric content marketing strategy with the intent of building up one’s brand equity is akin to the concept of compound interest. Albert Einstein famously once called compound interest the eighth wonder of the world. The thing about it is that it really isn’t all that impressive in the early stages. In fact, it’s kind of a pain in the butt. Further down the road, however, you reap insane rewards. Let’s quantify that quick:
- After 5 years, a $1,000 investment at 10 percent interest will yield $1,610 instead of just $1,500.
- After 25 years, a $1,000 investment at 10 percent interest will yield $10,834 instead of just $2,500.
- After 50 years, a $1,000 investment at 10 percent interest will yield $117,390 instead of just $5,000.
The longer you leave your sum of money alone to compound, the more positive and pronounced the outcome. “He who understands compound interest, earns it,” says Einstein, “and he who doesn’t, pays it.”
As previously mentioned, content marketing is eerily similar to the financial compounding of interest. Some people say that it takes 100 days to begin seeing results, and others say it takes 6 to 9 months. But the consensus is this: it takes time. Now, obviously it isn’t ideal that an investment into your business takes three to nine months to begin yielding a meaningful return. That’s certainly one way you can look at it. However, relationships take time to build. And people prefer to do business with other people that they know, like, and trust. So another way of looking at it is that this fact — that relationships take time — will deter your competitors from taking action on a similar strategy themselves.
Let them fight for scraps with SEO, paid media, gated content, and lead magnets. Let them tarnish their reputation and turn people off with their intrusive advertisements, shady marketing tactics, and transactional mindset. Let them focus on the slim percentage of buyers who are ready to part with their money today. While their nearsightedness maximizes today at the expense of tomorrow, you could be sacrificing today in order to generate revenue that is multiple times greater than theirs a few months to a year from now.
Let them mistake the forest for the trees while you, on the other hand, relentlessly focus on the buyers of tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year by helping them out and strategically positioning yourself as the go-to solution when they’re ready. It’s a bigger market, anyways.