Should Content Sell?

 In Content Strategy

sellingThe big buzz phrase floating around our industry right now is, “create content that sells.” I do believe that content can have an impact on direct sales, but is that really the purpose of content marketing? Numerous buyer behavior studies have shown us that the reasons people buy things have less to do with analytical, rational reasons and more to do with how the person feels emotionally about the product. How does this impact your content strategy?

I would argue that the purpose of content is to create trust and credibility in a brand; trust and credibility turn into sales.

Conversely, the purpose of advertising is to sell products. And because of the inherent nature of advertising: short and headline-driven, it’s not a great channel for building credibility, sharing value or creating trust. Enter content marketing, whose purpose is to give you something of value you didn’t have before. This is a much better way to connect with people and build relationships that will eventually turn into sales. The key here is to make your content production SUSTAINABLE. To accomplish this, your strategy must take on different approach than advertising. Here are a few advertising messages that content marketers should run away from:


We’ve all seen the commercials with the sad puppies and kittens and the Sarah McLachlan song playing in the background. You feel so bad for those little animals, you give them money. It may work for the SPCA, but for most businesses, you want people to feel happy making a purchase from you, not like they’re clearing their conscience.


You’ve seen the messages: Act now! Hurry! Only a Few Left! This messaging makes the buyer feel like they must hurry up and make a decision. This can often leave the person with remorse. Scarcity marketing is not a good way to build raving fans. They’ll leave thinking, “jeez, why don’t they just make more of the stuff?”


I’m one of those people that watch those burglar alarm commercials and then can’t sleep because I think someone’s breaking into my house. Does this compel me to upgrade my security system? No, just upsets me and gives me unrest. Instilling fear in your customers can’t be a good long-term content strategy.

Sex Appeal

Just. No. I keep wishing that GoDaddy would call me to discuss their content strategy. The half-naked GoDaddy Girls don’t do them any favors with me and probably most of their female audience agrees. There’s just no reason for your content strategy to include “sexy.” These messages can only leave your audience feeling exploited, offended and just plain uncomfortable. Not the feeling we want our buying audience to have. There is no place for cleavage in content (unless your Victoria’s Secret, I suppose).

What do you think? Do you use content to do your direct selling? Does it work?

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