Custom Content or Canned Correspondence?

By Chuck Sink | February 11, 2016

Whether you’re the owner, marketing director or a salesperson for your company, you have choices for how you connect with your target market. Even individual salespeople who must adhere to corporate marketing campaign standards can personalize and better authenticate branded corporate messages. More than towing the company line, great communicators create and validate superior value!

Social Media

Several months ago I took a sales call from a social media content marketing automation company and the salesman demonstrated excellence in selling skills. He closed me on one call. I reluctantly signed up for the service based in part on the credentials of the company founder – arguably the top social media guru in the world, Dave Kerpen.

custom-content-marketingBeing somewhat of a specialist in social media content, and understanding that it takes serious work to get right, I felt an imperative to learn how a content automation service could work for my business as well as clients.’ How would the quality of output compare with my original, custom (and time-consuming) content development? My initial research is starting to bear the fruits of real data.

My early conclusion is that social media content automation works well for Twitter, but has limited value for Facebook and LinkedIn. I have gained significant numbers of targeted new Twitter followers without even trying. To a small degree, my LinkedIn engagement is up and my Business Facebook Page has remained very quiet, even with all the new content activity. As can be expected, my own personally written posts get more likes, shares and comments in Facebook and LinkedIn. But on Twitter, engagement is about even between the automated tweets and my own.

Twitter is about real-time, high volume, and topic specific conversations. Therefore, higher volume of industry-relevant tweets can gain you some Twitter traction. What about direct new business results? The jury is still out but I believe my brand value is growing nationally as a Twitter result.

Email

Email marketing content subscription services based on your specific industry (IT, retail, home remodeling, architecture, plumbing, accounting, legal, financial planning, etc.) are commonly available. For a monthly fee, they’ll automate and eblast trending articles to your email contacts on a scheduled basis. You simply provide your target audience demographics and product/service category info. They conjure up relevant content for your audience, then blast out third party-produced messages to your email list. It lets you set and forget your email marketing so you can focus on other things.

How well does it work? Ask yourself this. To which are you more likely to respond, a colorful and graphically perfect Hallmark style greeting from a large insurance carrier or a simple piece of critical advice from a local agent you’ve met or heard of?

On the same day of the month at the same time of day, I now receive 3 identical emails from the same large financial services company. The only difference? The individual sender is a different agent for that company. This may be considered sales support but it’s generically canned support. And how supportive can that be?

One of my clients subscribes to a well-established provider of content  for the financial planning industry. What content-marketing-engagementwe found after experimenting with email campaigns is that it’s a good service for supplementing our original custom content but could never replace it. The proprietary and personalized articles in our emails proved to be more engaging than the third party-produced materials. Additionally, people found our own email design to be more graphically pleasing than the structured layout offered by the other service. We’ve come full circle with email – full customized messaging with supplemental content from the service provider.

Here’s the best thing about email marketing: When you deliver personal value in your emails, direct replies include requests to do business with you.

Bottom line: Support your own sales efforts with personalized, valuable advice for your prospects and customers! They’ll appreciate you for it and more easily remember whom to call when they need your services.

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