Consultants vs. Hacks: How to Blog in a Way that Convinces, Converts, and Sells

by Marcus Sheridan

Have you ever been on a website and been left with the impression of– “This company is so stuck on themselves they make me want to vomit.” (OK, you may not have said it like that, but you know what I mean.)

The fact is, as more and more businesses and individuals are learning the power of content marketing to talk about what they do, their products, and their services– many haven’t figured out how not to come across as a biased hack versus the true goal of great content and copy, which is that of “informed and trustworthy consultant.

When it comes to achieving the consultant vs hack status, there is one essential key or principle to understand: Disarmament. Allow me to explain.

Not a Good Fit

I get contacted by many businesses each week as to whether or not they should be using HubSpot as part of their company’s marketing strategy. And as soon I have a conversation with someone referencing HS, the first thing out of my mouth is this:

“HubSpot may or may not be a good fit for you, as it’s certainly not for everyone. The goal of this conversation to to figure out which group you fall in…”

When people hear this statement and see, right off the bat, that I’m not trying to shove the benefits of HubSpot down their throat regardless of their business , there is a natural respect, appreciation, and trust relationship that follows.

In other words, they let their guard down and “disarmament” has occurred, allowing trust to follow.

This same principle applies to the things I write about HubSpot. I’m honest about the product. I openly discuss its problems. Because of this, people see me as a trusted voice on the software.

HubSpot Problems

By openly discussing HubSpot’s good and bad points, I’ve become a trusted source on the inbound marketing company.

Comparing Products

Let’s look at another practical example from my swimming pool site.

As I’ve discussed many times before, “Vs.” posts are incredibly important for most companies because consumers love to compare products, companies, and services all the time. This is why one of the most effective elements to a great content marketing campaign is addressing every single “vs.” related subject your client and customer base could possibly want to know.

When it comes to swimming pools, here are a few of the very common “vs.” related phrases/questions:

  • Fiberglass vs. Concrete Pools
  • Fiberglass vs. Liner Pools
  • Inground vs. Above ground Pools
  • Natural Gas vs. Electric Heaters for Swimming Pools
  • Mesh vs. Solid Swimming pool Covers
  • Concrete vs. Pavers for Swimming pool Patios

As a company, we’ve addressed each one of these subjects on our company blog. Furthermore, we rank in the top 3 of Google search results  for every one of the phrases. But if people came to these articles and found we were utterly biased, we wouldn’t garner their trust.

It is for this reason that we always give frank and honest assessment, telling consumers who each product is for and NOT for, which is a must-have element of content that converts.

For example, in the Fiberglas vs Concrete Pools article, as you can see from the following screen shot, we start the article off discussing the lack of “unbiased” reviews online about the different types of pools, and how someone had written our company in sheer frustration because they couldn’t seem to find an honest opinion anywhere.

Fiberglass vs Concrete Article

Great content is unbiased, which ultimately garners more trust and sales from consumers.

Later on in the article, you’ll find that it mentions a few key points:

  • Fiberglass pools have size and shape limitations
  • Fiberglass doesn’t offer total customization like concrete does
  • Fiberglass pools cost a little more upfront than concrete

Despite the fact that my company doesn’t offer concrete pools, we’re honest in our assessment and it’s because of this that consumers trust our words and in many cases end up filling out a form to set up a sales appointment.

The Willingness to be Real

Unfortunately though, most companies don’t do this. In fact, most companies NEVER talk about their product’s issues and drawbacks. Instead of being transparent and honest, they pretend these issues don’t exist.

But with the proliferation of facts, opinions, and content in the information age– consumers are going to eventually learn a product’s pros and cons, so you may as well just be straight from the beginning and allow the trust-process to build.

And if you’re a service-based company, talk about your ideal client. Then talk about your ideal non-client. Believe it or not, by openly discussing who your company is not a good fit for you’ll actually attract more people than you would have. Again, disarmament works.

The bottom line is that honesty still has a place in this world. It certainly has its place in web copy and content marketing.

So be real. Be genuine. Be frank.

By so doing, you’ll likely be a lone voice of trust consumers and buyers can finally believe in.

Your Turn

Do you agree with my assessment that most companies still don’t know how to produce content in such a way that is not just a straight sales pitch? Why are so many afraid to openly discuss who their product is for and not for? Jump in, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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