More than ever before, customers want to be sold too…

There is some serious B.S. being peddled claiming human DNA has miraculously changed in the last few years. The peddlers (known as content marketers) claim people don’t want to be sold anything anymore. They claim businesses that try to sell things to their customers and prospects will fail.

I’m not kidding, such absurd claims are being made at marketing seminars – if it wasn’t so sad it would be hilarious.

The claim of course, is complete rubbish and without supporting evidence.

content marketers shoveling content

The plain fact is this – people love to be sold to by good salespeople. And when they have a great sales experience they rave about it and call it “excellent customer service”. They tell friends at social functions and on social media. Some marketers even label them advocates.

Great sales technique doesn’t make the customer uncomfortable. It doesn’t sound “salesy” – to use an emerging piece of jargon. A good sales person is highly regarded by customers. And we all have our favourites, whether they be at our local cafe, clothing store, pub, hairdresser, mechanic, IT supplier, butcher, baker or grocer.

But when it comes to lousy salespeople or poor sales messages, people share a universal dislike. Since the beginning of time, people have disliked them – it is not a new sentiment just because of the internet or claims by content marketers.

How many times have you threatened to take your business elsewhere because a salesperson wasn’t available to serve you? We all love salespeople.

So to push a self-interest content marketing barrow and state all a marketer has to do is publish more and more non-sales information and the world will flock to your door, is pure fantasy. The content marketers may be smoking the wacky tobacky, but the punters aren’t having a bar of it.

wacky tobacky
Are content marketers smoking the wacky tobacky?

The common thread among modern consumers is they are time-poor and suffer from severe infobesity – much of this caused by useless content marketing messages that don’t give people a reason to act, or consider a brand. Content for content’s sake. Yet the last thing people want in their busy lives is more content.

Human beings are the laziest species on the planet – we always seek the path of least resistance. One of the key reasons apps are so popular for example, is their ease of use. So marketers have to make it as easy as possible for people to buy – which is why giving punters incentives, offers, propositions and reasons to “buy now” are key to getting sales.

To quote my old boss, David Ogilvy, “you cannot bore people into buying“. Yet content marketers are adamant you can. Waste more of people’s valuable time and you’re guaranteed to sell them more, they preach to the gullible.

Let’s examine some facts shall we:

The single biggest innovation in online shopping was an in-your-face sales tool. It was invented by Amazon – and customers love it! They call it customer service, because that’s what great selling is all about – serving customers and prospects well. The technique is now used on all major transaction websites.

Here’s an example with which you are all familiar – you visit Amazon and click on a book you are considering buying. The site then tells you “customers who bought this item also bought…”

Look out, Amazon is daring to “sell things”…

Even “Facebook with a necktie” (known as LinkedIn) uses this technique. When you view a person’s profile, you are prompted with a message “People also viewed” and there is a list of people’s mug shots linking to their profiles. This is a sales technique as old as retail selling – suggesting alternatives to get customers to buy at least one option. It’s a sales tool, not a non-sales tool.

Companies have always published non-sales information, it is not a new invention. And they made the information available at every point possible along the “customer journey”. Sorry, I had to drop the journey buzzword at least once. Some of you ancient marketers will remember such non-sales content as brochures, websites, booklets, newsletters, educational videos, signage, on-pack instructions, seminars, user manuals – the list goes on.

This is all designed to assist customers and prospects to make buying decisions, or as after sales service. Why would the punters want more ‘information’?

Yet the content marketers are claiming the whole world has changed just because people can do some online research before buying. This is stretching credibility beyond truth. Just because a marketer can reach a prospective customer in more places than ever before, does not automatically translate into “don’t sell to consumers, just post information as much as possible“.

used content marketing
wanna read content rather than buy a product?

By all means, help build your brand by publishing relevant content that cost-effectively drives people to a sale, or keeps them coming back after they’ve bought. But make it easy for the punters to buy – they are already inundated with infobesity and can’t be bothered doing all the work themselves.

So please, you self-interested content marketers, stop the lying about content marketing and making fake claims all a brand has to do to succeed, is publish non-sales content. It’s dishonest. Brands have always published non-sales content, as well as sales content – and it’s the sales content that has the biggest impact on the business and always will.

I’m going on a customer journey to get a drink of water from the kitchen. Better check some influencers to see what non-sales content they have, so I can make my buying decision – do I get cold water from the fridge, just run water from the tap, or maybe drink sparkling water from a bottle? After all, I want to ensure my water-drinking customer experience journey is the best it can be…


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