Content Marketing - The Art of Selling Without Sellling

Content Marketing: The Art of Selling Without Selling


No one wants to see a sales brochure.

Nobody opens emails they know is going to sell them something.

Everyone hates getting an unsolicited sales call while they’re eating dinner.

People don’t like being “sold.” They probably never did, but in today’s world of spam filters, ad blockers and caller ID, it’s even easier for people to ignore a sales pitch.

People are busy, living their own lives, dealing with their own problems, and securing their finances. No matter how much a business owner believes their product or service will solve the world’s problems, it probably won’t; and people don’t have the time or interest to be told how much better their life will be if they spend their time or money.

The sooner businesses accept this reality, the sooner we as a business community can come together and find better ways to “sell.”


The Answer is Content Marketing

It’s the art of selling, without selling.

Content Marketing - The Art of Selling Without Sellling

Content marketing is the creation and sharing of interesting, valuable or relevant content, for free.

That’s right; it’s just given away, for free.

“Free” is the most beautiful word in the world to every consumer. It’s also the most hated word for every business owner. But businesses stay in business because of consumers, not because of business owners.

No consumers means no business, so if consumers want free, then free is what they should get.


Not Just Any Kind of Free

The idea isn’t to give away products or services for free, but rather to share valuable content. This content can be:

  • A blog which provides insights to a specific industry or market.
  • A case study, or white paper, with valuable data findings discovered through research.
  • An entertaining video that makes viewers laugh.

Not all content needs to be serious; some of it can be fun. The types of content that should be created are catered to the target audience.

Know the audience. Be the audience.

Know the audience. Be the audience.


Every Company Needs to Be a Media Company

What do RedBull, GoPro and Lego have in common?

They’re all media companies.

These companies, and plenty of others, are media companies in addition to their primary business. These brands create and share content that goes viral, and is enjoyed by more people than actually buy their products.

But convincing every person that views their content to buy their product isn’t their goal. Instead, these companies focus on building brand awareness and creating positive brand images. These companies have a customer-focused content marketing strategy.

In return, these brands have some of the most loyal customers, and fans, in the world.

The reason is because they’ve provided free value to their audience, and in return only asked for them to tell a friend, or consider them the next time they make a purchase.

The Lego Movie was incredibly popular, and didn’t ask a single audience member to buy a Lego set; but because they created an entertaining and humorous movie, people went out and bought Legos anyway.

While most companies don’t have the resources to match what these brands are doing, the strategy still works for small and medium sized businesses as well. Create interesting content, and share it with people that may find it valuable; and then do it again, and again.


But Don’t Just Believe Me

I’m not breaking any new ground here with this blog, and the concept of companies becoming media companies has long been discussed in the marketing world.

Take a look at a few articles I believe explain it best:


The Competition is (Almost) Infinite

The internet is filled with content. The options to be informed and entertained are nearly infinite. Not only are brands competing with other brands in their industry, they’re competing with brands in other industries, along with people’s friends and family.

There are countless websites, platforms and applications which compete for people’s attention. Even within each of these exist a vast array of competitors.

On social media and email inboxes, brand messages can appear above pictures of a family member, and below an ad for a Fortune 500 Company.

The goal is to stand out, find a niche, and share something interesting. To do this, the amount, and quality, of content must continue to increase and improve. For businesses to stand out, they must create content quickly, regularly, and effectively.

This is why every company needs to become a media company.


In Other Words…

“Whether you like it or not, every person is now a media company. The tools are easy, free, and everywhere. More importantly, producing content is now the BASELINE for all brands and companies. It literally doesn’t matter what business you’re in, what industry you operate in, if you’re not producing content, you basically don’t exist. So what’s your excuse?”

Gary Vaynerchuk

So what's your excuse Gary Vaynerchuk Quote


“It doesn’t matter if a company makes network gear or diapers, every company needs to publish to its various communities, its customers, its staff, it’s neighbors. It needs to know how to produce compelling content, great video, podcasts, etc. And now with this emerging two-way Internet it also needs to learn how to listen.”

Tom Foremski

Tom Foremski Quote


Originally posted on “A Working Progress” @


Another Blog Answering ‘What is Content Marketing?’

Another Blog Answering

‘What is Content Marketing?’



The great marketing minds of today have long stressed the importance of content marketing, and encouraged businesses and brands to invest more time and resources developing effective content marketing strategies.

Countless books, articles and blogs have been written which describe the importance of content marketing. At this point, there’s not much new that can be said on the subject.

So this blog won’t try.

Instead, I’m describing content marketing, in my own words.

If you’re already well-aware of content marketing, there’s not much new here for you. But if this is the first time you’ve heard the term, let me be the first to try and explain.

For a more detailed explanation, simply Google “content marketing,” and you’ll have enough reading material to fill a very long weekend.

So let’s begin.


What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the creation, and sharing, of interesting, relevant and valuable content, given away for free to potential customers.

Or described another way,

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content Marketing Institute

This branch of digital marketing is the art of selling, without selling. The purpose is not about asking potential customers to make a purchasing decision, or telling them to “Call Now!”  Instead, the goal is to reach new audiences, cultivate the potential lead, and build brand loyalty, through the delivery of free and valuable content.

Though the phrase, “content marketing” is relatively new, the concept has been around for quite a while.

Take a look at this video from the Content Marketing Institute to learn about its history.


What is Content?

Content can be almost anything a business or brand creates and shares, that provides some perceived value.

Common digital examples include:

  • Blogs
  • Online Videos
  • Emails
  • Newsletters
  • Images
  • Infographics
  • Case Studies
  • eBooks
  • Landing Pages

Content is everywhere. It’s on every website, social media page and search engine result page. Content is what you’ll find on YouTube, in your inbox and within every mobile app.

What separates content from content marketing is that it is created, or curated, and shared, with value in mind. Give something away for free, and in return, gain a potential customer’s brand loyalty, contact info or positive impression.


What’s the Purpose of Content Marking?

The purpose of content marketing is to grow brand awareness and loyalty through the sharing of valuable content, to generate leads and hopefully gain repeat business.

The customer experience has changed. Customers are now more informed, conduct their own research, and don’t need to be told why they should buy. Today’s business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete.

Content marketing is about providing value to a potential customer, so that they can become aware of, or feel positively about, a business or brand, and keep it mind when it’s time to make a purchase. By giving away value for free, potential customers don’t’ feel like they are being “sold.”

People hate advertising. People love good content marketing.


What isn’t Content Marketing?

Content marketing is not the sharing of sales-focused materials, which often attempts to “sell” potential customers on the business’s product, service or brand.

In truth, content is everything from a tweet and newsletter, to a business card and a coupon. But content marketing asks for nothing in return. Or if it does, it’s only after something of value has been provided first.

The idea of “value” is what separates content from content marketing. Without value, content is just another sales pitch. Value must be provided, first;

“Otherwise, what you end up with is a brochure, but you just call it content marketing.”

Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert.


How Does Content Marketing Work?

Through the creation of strategically targeted content, and sharing it on digital channels, potential customers can find valuable information and be introduced to, or nurtured by, businesses and brands.

Simply put, content marketing works by giving away something of value, for free. After a person receives this free valuable content, they are more likely to take an action, provide personal information, or remember the business or brand when it’s time to make a purchase.

By creating and sharing this content across digital channels, a business or brand can be discovered by potential customers; and these potential customers can also share this content with their friends, family or colleagues.

Content marketing encourages loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing, to create brand ambassadors.


Why is Content Marketing Important?

All current online forms of marketing rely on content marketing to reach and find customers. Content is what is viewed online, shared by people, and used to communicate with potential customers.

“Content marketing is dead because now it is simply marketing.”

Seth Godin, from his interview on HubSpot’s “The Rise to the Top” web series

Content marketing is what allows a business or brand be found online, connect with potential customers, and build loyalty.

People have become very good at ignoring advertisements, because they’re intrusive and pushy; their purpose is to convince people to spend their money or time. Content marketing, however, is a passive strategy, which provides free value, in exchange for the possibility of loyalty in the future.

Content marketing is more about branding and generating leads than making a sale. Gone are the days when a business or brand could simply pay to capture people’s attention.

Audiences no longer want their attention bought. They want it to be earned.




Originally posted on “A Working Progress Blog” @







Say it First and Make it Wicked

It’s those people, and brands, willing to be the first to say today, what we’re all thinking, that will win tomorrow. 

Have you experienced live-tweeting? You know, the digital version of note-passing in class. The act of telling ‘Yo Mama” jokes to strangers watching the same show. A cultural phenomenon which involves being the first to troll the entertainment you choose to watch.

The concept is unique. Unlike anything we’ve seen throughout communication history. Real-time discussions about the topics we care about. No other medium allows people to share their thoughts, opinions or jokes to mass audiences, instantly. Unfiltered. It’s theoretically and technically revolutionary.

So of course businesses see dollar signs. Wherever people go, and whatever they see or hear, will attract advertising. Live-tweeting is today’s untapped advertising resource. Brands are joining the discussions; getting involved and trying to attract and engage. But just because brands are learning to show up to the party, doesn’t mean their invited inside.

The 2014 Billboard Music Awards aired this past weekend. ABC was smart enough to know they need to be part of the discussion. #Billboards2014 and #BillboardAwards were trending hashtags all night. And ABC made sure to stamp the entire broadcast with their hashtag of choice; encouraging viewers to join the conversation and live-tweet. Viewers listened. Topics, thoughts and jokes streamed throughout the Twitterverse. On paper, it worked.

But what ABC missed, or more specifically, couldn’t have predicted, was an even bigger trend.


When Lorde performed, Twitter went crazy.


Was everyone making the same exact correlation simultaneously? Was Lorde so obviously a Wicked Witch of the West clone that the analogy created itself? Or did one person make the joke and everyone followed? Probably a bit of both.

Neither ABC nor the Billboard Music Awards could have predicted this trend. No marketer could. It was fluid. Organic. Original. Memorable. Obvious. People saw the joke and understood, immediately, there was truth behind the punchline.

Live-tweeting, and social media as a whole, is filled with these examples. Brands spend money trying to get people talking. And then some random person, with no real influence one-ups the pros and finds success.

For the digital marketing and advertising industry to find success on social media, pre-packaged and planned messages will never work. They’re too safe. Too scripted. Too perfect. And in business, the safe way almost always gets chosen.

Which works out for the few people and brands willing to cross the line. To make the insight, joke or observation we’re all thinking, but not quick enough (or brave enough) to post.

Let’s hypothetical:

If the first person to post the “Wicked Witch of the West,” comment was secretly a marketing advocate for the release of a new, re-mastered version of the Wizard of Oz, how many extra DVDs would they have helped sell?

Or, what if this person was actually the social media marketer in charge of promoting WICKED the musical? And the day after starting the “Wicked Witch of the West” trend, you saw a commercial for the musical. Would you be more inclined to buy because it was fresh in your mind?

Business and brands can’t plan for these unscripted life moments. But when they happen, and people are willing to listen, an unrivaled marketing channel opens. It’s those people, and brands, willing to be the first to say today, what we’re all thinking, that will win tomorrow.




1st World Digital Marketing Problems


In essence, we must fail to succeed. – Daniel M. Christensen

What can you learn from reading LinkedIn updates? That everyone is an expert. Regardless of their field, every professional is convinced they must prove they have all the answers. Because of the inherent self-promotional attitude necessary, marketing professionals suffer from this “guru-mentality” at much higher percentages. Every marketer, especially in the digital realm, is convinced their methods will lead to success. They’ve tested, perfected and out-performed all of their peers.

The truth is, however, most digital marketers simply pick-and-choose segments of data, test results and insights to “Frankenstein” their own personal creed. No marketer likes to admit they’re still learning.

Luckily this method works. Too many executives, bosses and decision-makers know too little about the industry. They hear their business must exist online, but don’t know how truly make it grow. They understand social media is culture’s latest “fad,” and believe simply existing on Facebook will grow their business.

They want success, but don’t always believe in investing in true talent. True success comes from true talent. Talent’s the offspring of competition. To compete is to fail. And to fail is to learn. In essence, we must fail to succeed.

But before one can succeed, it is necessary to teach the inexperienced. In today’s corporate environment, all people, regardless of title, must keep social media in their mind. Today, no business-related action lives in isolation. It is crucial to include marketing teams in most business decisions, since each decision affects customers. And marketing teams are often the first point-of-contact for many customers. Whether through social media, email, or online review, customer’s opinions are often first heard by marketing teams.

Unfortunately, too many people are still unsure what digital marketing entails. It’s time we discussed today’s most common misconceptions.

1st World Digital Marketing Problems:

What my Boss thinks I do…



What my Co-Workers think I do…



What the Accounting Department thinks I do…



What the Web Designer thinks I do…



What the I.T. Guy thinks I do…



What Google Search thinks I do…



What my Customer’s Inbox thinks I do…



What my Grandmother thinks I do…



What my Friends think I do…



What my Optometrist thinks I do…



What Teenagers think I do…



Recruit Redditors for Your Marketing Needs

The next-great marketer is more likely to come
from Reddit than Harvard.

Whoever created the first The Most Interesting Man in the World meme deserves a cushy job from Dos Equis. Sure, the commercials, created by Euro RSCG Worldwide  went viral themselves. Similar to Chuck Norris, The Most Interesting Man in the World is known for achieving unachievable greatness. With enviable swagger, and perfect poise, The Most Interesting Man in the World is exactly as his name implies.


But in recent years, the commercials have trended second to the popular meme. You can’t visit a 9GagCheezburger, or Tickld , without seeing a The Most Interesting Man in the World meme. The setup and punchline are so easy to understand, replicate and share. The meme is likely selling as many Dos Equis beers as any commercial advertising.


Viral marketing is the next evolution of marketing. And similar to other forms of evolution, it occurs gradually, without anyone truly noticing. You may know it better as content marketing. Or social media marketing. But the goal is the same; create memorable content that is shared across the web. In effect, creating brand advocates who actively and openly endorse your message. All the great companies are participating.

From GoDaddy


to Old Spice


and Taco Bell


even Sprint.


Their approach is simple. “See our content. Like our content. Share our content.” It’s (relatively) cheap marketing. Turning viewers/users into brand advocates. When a consumer shares a brand’s content with a friend, the brand is receiving a word-of-mouth endorsement, along with forging an additional advertising channel.

Every marketing firm and advertising agency is looking to become the next viral thing. To create the next internet sensation. Unfortunately for them, it usually comes organically.

Like from some sinister looking cat,


or an innocent kid on drugs.


But sometimes brands have success. Gangnam Style wasn’t an accident. The record label perfectly calculated their marketing strategy. By first building a Korean audience, then gradually promoting Psy on American media networks, they were able to turn Gangnam Style into the most viral video of all-time


Devil’s Due, a horror movie, which by all accounts, bombed in the theaters, succeeded in their viral marketing. Unfortunately the movie couldn’t hold up to the “scares,” of their prank video. But the buzz for the opening weekend was huge.


In the very near future, it will be the creators of viral content that will become the most successful marketers. These creators understand what the internet is looking for. How to develop it. Promote it. Optimize and share it.

You won’t hear me claiming to be on the level of any of the content creators above, but I do understand the importance of honing the craft. Experimenting. Practicing. Testing. Failing. Learning.

Today I created some content, a gif, to promote an event. SHARE if You LIKE.


Behold the Wacky Twerking Inflatable Tube Girl

SHARE if You LIKE – Wacky Twerking Inflatable Tube Girl

Today’s SHARE if You LIKE featurette, is brought to you by the letter “K.” As in:

Me: “Hey I found some super sweet articles to curate today”

You: “K”

Behold the Wacky Twerking Inflatable Tube Girl

Behold the Wacky Twerking Inflatable Tube Girl

Great Skills. But whether they’re great knife-throwing skills, or CGI-type editing skills, is the real question.

Let the “Old English” meme-fodder begin

Let the “Old English” meme-fodder begin

Big Brother is disgusted by how much you touch yourself on webcam

Big Brother is disgusted by how much you touch yourself on webcam

The fountain of youth comes in a bottle. It’s called Photoshop

The fountain of youth comes in a bottle. It’s called Photoshop

If I were a veterinarian, I’d prescribe cuddles for everything

If I were a veterinarian, I’d prescribe cuddles for everything

Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, believes we’re all “creative and unpredictable special snowflakes.” #Comforted

Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, believes we’re all “creative and unpredictable special snowflakes.” #Comforted

King’s Cross Station is looking kinda grimey

King’s Cross Station is looking kinda grimey

Go home, Seahorse, you’re drunk

Go home, Seahorse, you’re drunk

You can now build your own Flappy Bird game. But I can’t be friends with anyone that does.

You can now build your own Flappy Bird game. But I can’t be friends with anyone that does.

The Voice of A Working Progress...

The Voice of A Working Progress…

I hate the sound of my voice. I still have no idea how my own voicemail sounds. I don’t want to hear it. The reality of my voice isworse than whatever it is I hear when I speak. To anyone that’s ever heard me, I apologize.

Regardless how it sounds, I’m glad I have one. My limited hand dexterity wouldn’t allow me to hold a full conversation in sign language (sorry ladies).

Hearing your voice is one thing. Finding your voice is something else altogether. What should your voice sound like? What will it say? How will it say it?

As I started my journey through the un-filtered landscape of digital marketing, At first, I simply wanted to be present. I hoped to experiment. Learn, Evolve. Improve. So I started creating and curating. Spreading content across as many platforms possible. I was a machine possessed. On a mission to spread like a virus.

But, as I look back at my work, I notice the mistakes. The gaps in optimization. The lack of quality engagement. I see all the content I marketed, and understand it had no voice. Not unifying message. My voice sounds terrible.

One post was a self-created gif. Another was a link for better SEO. I wrote about a trending sub-reddit one day. The next was about networking on LinkedIn. I’d gain a follower because of a meme I created, then lose them because my next curation had nothing to do with what interested them in the first place.

In the process, I’ve learned my content needs a voice. And it won’t involve speaking to anyone specifically.

My day-to-day responsibilities are overwhelming in scope. I’m a hybrid-marketer. I practice, research and implement a multitude of marketing components. Webmaster. SEO. Social media. Content creation. Content curation. Copywriting. Networking. Email marketing. Direct marketing. Digital marketing. Traditional marketing. Guerilla marketing. Promotions. Public relations. Google AdWords. Social media advertising. Print advertising. And so on. And so on.

As I compiled a list of articles I read, presentations I download, pages I shared, media I created, accounts I followed, etc., I heard my voice.

I’m A Working Progress…

I represent the evolution and growth of a digital marketer. A trial-by-fire experiment, from creation and curation, to implementation and optimization. My hat collection is expansive, and I wear all of them daily.

My guess is I’m not alone.

I can’t focus on any one of these aspects. Not for long, anyhow. My mind, like my to-do list, jumps from topic to topic. I’m the profile of a multitasker.

So follow me, as I experiment. Share the things I like. Curate the content of interest. And if the voice you hear today isn’t interesting, understand it’ll talk about something else tomorrow.