Bruce Lee did not actually say anything about content marketing.
But in one of those opportune moments that all dudes (many of whom would rather be Bruce Lee than, say, a digital channel manager) treasure, martial arts wisdom lines up with business wisdom on the subject of blogging and social.
Namely, being rigidly fixated on your desired results chokes off real opportunities. This is the guy who hammers your inbox relentlessly with newsletters, tips and invites. The one who loads up your social feeds with infinite blogs. When you don’t respond, he hits harder, and more.
Kung fu fighting
Bruce Lee said, “Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water.” Here’s what I say about B2B content marketing.
Eric’s 9 Chambers of Shaolin-Style Blogging
- First, pretend you don’t need any new business. Sit quietly on a mountaintop chanting this to yourself if you have to.
- Pretend you like your customer. I wish I didn’t have to say that, but I’m sorry. I’ve been in too many meetings where marketing people betray, through their language, the way they really feel: their customers are at best, opponents, and at worst, prey. Target! Capture! Convert! Thinking about your customer as a person (albeit one whose capriciousness can sometimes make or break your livelihood) has a way of seeping into your consciousness. This is not only good for the spirit, but for your business.
- Now imagine you accidentally stumbled onto the most valuable piece of information in the world, and you just want to share it, for free.
- From that state of mind, write blogs on your topic.
- Because you want people to possess this valuable information, offer it to them freely. Be mindful of their overflowing inbox. Remember you are trying to GIVE them something not SELL them something. Don’t be the guy who was “thinking of you yesterday and just wanted to share this white paper” either. Nobody likes that guy. (BTW, somewhat tangentially, check out the ever-helpful Hubspot blog for this great piece on “breakup emails.”)
- Spend a lot of time on your headlines!
- Set realistic expectations about how your new blogging efforts will impact your business. In the consulting business, a great blog will not close deals. It WILL give salespeople something to share with their clients; it will position you as being interesting and smart; and it does give your potential prospects a great way to kick the tires while you focus your time on hot leads.
- Be generous. Read other blogs, follow their authors, comment on their posts. Post and link to THEIR blogs, commenting on how valuable you found the article. Reciprocation will follow. But pretend you don’t care about reciprocation, until you actually don’t. Fake it ’till you make it is an unofficial secondary theme to this post.
- Don’t attack your prospects, follow them. I don’t mean literally, in your car. I mean on social media.
Like a typical suburban Dad I have squared off against water and lost countless times. It defies gutters, caulk, and apparently, solid basement walls. So rather than being like a shotgun, you should be like water. Water is benevolently opportunistic and generous. And yet, with time, water will bore its way through solid rock. Having an agenda but then letting it go in favor of altruistic intent, opportunities will flourish. You get by giving. Isn’t that nice?