At the Whitespace Consulting Group we have embraced inbound marketing “wholeheartedly" -- at least some of us have. Others (mostly me), have been dragged along kicking and screaming. We are fortunate to have someone on staff that lives and breathes the stuff. Luckily, she had the fortitude to convince us that we were leaving opportunities on the table because we were not marketing to our target audience in the way that they wanted to be engaged. “You’ll never have to make a cold-call again!” she exclaimed with the conviction of an evangelist. Point out a creative way to engage a potential client, and you have my attention.
So now she badgers me into writing blogs and white papers--and then edits them to mind numbing distraction. She peppers my text with keywords that have been run through a ranking tool, and then twists the wording of my titles until I no longer recognize them as my own. I have a twitter account, @WhitespaceCG, and a couple of followers. She says I’ll get more. We’ll see. All done for the greater marketing good, but maddening none the less.
On a recent walk past her workspace, I noticed no less than four open books, plastered with post-it notes, with titles such as, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, Real-Time Marketing & PR, Content Rules, and Twitter for Dummies. (I knew I should never have approved that expense to the INBOUND conference.) I probably would have abandoned the whole program long ago had she not threatened to leave me and take the kids. OK, it’s a bit overstated, but you get my point. Believe me, during our bouts of editing I’ve often thought that maybe a life alone wouldn’t be so bad... But then I realized that I'd lose my last remaining excuse for not publishing more.
So as you can see, I’m putting in the work and doing my best to create content that is worth reading and engaging to my targeted audience. That being said, I’m getting a little weary of articles proclaiming, “ The End of_______” or “_________ is Dead”. You fill in the blanks. I know that in the crowded world of thought leadership marketing we should be provocative and use keyword rich titles to get found. I do it myself (or at least I try). But please, can we make an agreement that you have to back-up your headline with substantive arguments or supporting facts that are somewhat related to the topic. There is nothing more disappointing than clicking on an eye-catching, pulse-racing headline with the excitement of a kid at a circus and finding that the content doesn't match the title or adequately defend the claim. Why do people jeopardize their credibility just to get hits? What’s the sense in “getting found” if you're then dismissed for being manipulative, or for not having command of the topic. While reading what otherwise might be a fine article— that deserved its own catchy title— I get annoyed and end up discounting the content and the author. Do we only care about our 15 minutes of fame, that viral video, the greatest number of followers and hits? I understand the quest to get noticed, but there has to be a balance. Maybe I’m expecting too much— let's hope not.
Mike Peters is the managing director of the Whitespace Consulting Group, a global business development strategy firm. The Whitespace Consulting Group has been helping multi-cultural clients optimize their business development strategy since 2005. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.