Fake News in Content Marketing and Why it’s Wrong
It seems like we now hear about fake news every day.
And at this point, we’re all pretty much sick of trying to filter what’s true from that which clearly isn’t built on the facts.
But when “fake news” (or blatantly false information) starts to permeate other facets of the media, it causes me to raise an eyebrow.
An Example of Fake News in Action
Before I continue, let me also mention here that I’m generally a non-confrontational guy. I don’t like disagreeing with another person “just because.” But in this case, I was so fundamentally bothered by an article I recently read in Inc. about marketing trends that I simply could not allow awful, inaccurate advice to be presented as fact (news/trends) without at least giving my thoughts.
(Note: The article was sent to me by a highly successful client in Chicago Illinois—US Waterproofing—a company that has made a fortune by doing exactly what this article says not to do.)
The title of the article I’m referring to in Inc. is: “5 Outdated Marketing Strategies (and What to Do Instead)
In the first paragraph, the author states:
“Here are five time-honored marketing strategies that were once best practices but which now make a company look clueless and a bit silly.”
Upon setting such a condescending tone, he then goes on to state the following:
2. Content-rich websites:
The silliest myth of the information age is that information is so valuable that a company is doing customers a favor by providing as much of it as possible. That’s why so many business websites are chock-a-block with content.
The hope behind such sites is that customers will use that information to become more educated and thereby become convinced that they must buy what’s offered. In fact, customers are overloaded with information and resent being asked to dig through more.
Smart companies only provide information when it’s clear a customer wants it, and then limit that information to the minimum useful amount. Today’s most effective websites show a single screen and request one action, like signing up for a newsletter.
As you might imagine, I read this section and did a double take.
In fact, I had to read it three times just to make sure I wasn’t misinterpreting the words of the author.
Unfortunately, I read the same thing each time.
The author (and therefore Inc. Magazine) is essentially espousing:
- Consumers don’t like lots of content (regardless of it being really good or not) on a company’s website.
- Consumers don’t go to a company website to have all their questions (issues, fears, worries, concerns, etc.) answered by said organization.
- Consumers don’t have time to research a company online.
- “Smart” companies only provide a small amount of information, because, apparently, all we want to do is read one-page websites and sign up for a newsletter.
Hence, fake news.
If You’re Going to Say It, At Least Have Some Evidence
To address this absurdity, allow me to pose a few questions:
Since when are consumers/buyers offended by great information, teaching, and education (because, after all, that’s what great content looks like, right)?
When was the last time you said (in the process of making a major buying decision), “The internet has gotten too big, I think I’ll just go talk to a sales person instead”?
And if people are “too busy,” why does my average customer at River Pools read over 100 pages of the website before they buy? (And please don’t say, “They’re different.”)
Or, why are our clients consistently amazed at just how much content their customers and prospects will view (assuming they have good website content) once they start using advanced analytics like HubSpot?
And when was the last time you went to a website and said, “I hope there isn’t much here…but I’ll sure be glad if I can sign up for their newsletter instead!”? (Which, by the way, isn’t asking someone to sign up for your newsletter kind of like saying, “If they read our newsletter content enough, they just might buy our stuff”???
And finally, when was the last time you said, “I hate Google. It has too much content”?
Really, I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there.
Frankly put, this is terrible advice. The author has ZERO data backing up his claims.
Instead, he’s looking to make waves, get a few shares and in the process send readers back to 1995.
Thus, again, I repeat, fake/false/misleading/innacurate news.
If you’re reading this (wait, you have time to read this???), don’t allow yourself to simply consume business advice (regardless of source) without truly vetting its merits.
Look for the data.
Look at the author’s experience with real companies doing exactly what he or she espouses.
And then, most of all, Test. Experiment. Verify what you’ve read.
By so doing, you’ll separate what’s truth and fact from potentially damaging fiction.
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