the inbound-i blog: Inbound Marketing Information, Ideas & Intelligence

Marketing Differentiation: How Canned Content Can Backfire

Posted by Ellie Becker on Wed, Feb 01, 2012 @ 15:02 PM

In a highly crowded and competitive online world, marketing differentiation is critical. We must take the time to understand and communicate what we bring to the marketplace that is unique and important to our customers. This is especially important if we’re in industries where we may be perceived as ‘cookie cutter’ to begin with. Here’s a good example of how not to differentiate yourself!Canned Content Can Backfire for Marketing Differentiation

Yesterday morning at 11:32 an email came across my desktop with the intriguing subject line: Happy Groundhog Day – which it wasn't. At 12:19 a second email with the same subject line arrived. I thought to myself, why did this person send me the same email twice within a short time frame?

When I had time to actually read my emails later in the day, I realized that I had received the same identical email from two different financial advisors with two different companies. Both emails included a link to a cute flash card with another link to the identical message, personalized with my first name. Each of their cards was signed with their name with yet another link to a contact form if I wished to leave them a message.

It was obvious that these guys had bought a canned content and ‘lead generation’ program. At the bottom of their emails I found a tell-tale link to a website: The url took me to a site called eRelationship, obviously intended for people who need to generate sales.

The headline promised to ‘Increase Your Commissions’.  The site offers automated emails, what they call ‘Validity Generators’ (enewsletters, articles, and other content), ‘Likeability Generators’ (Cards like the Happy Groundhog Day one, 4th of July, birthday, etc.), Lead Generators (‘For those appointments you couldn’t close’).

Nowhere do they warn that a prospect might get exactly the same content from your competitor. The only good news in that possibility is that he or she will look like as big an idiot as you do.

Look everyone, I understand that this Inbound Marketing stuff takes time and it’s easy to be tempted by services that will provide you with ‘content’. But for marketing differentiation, your content really has to be different!

Did these guys validate themselves as knowledgeable? Did getting their twin emails make them more likeable to me? Did their effort generate a lead? The answer to all three is a great, big NO!! In fact, what it got them was a click on the ‘unsubscribe’ link.

And here’s the main point of all of this. The goal of content marketing is not to get your prospects to like you. It’s to get them to trust you. There’s no way I can trust someone who doesn’t respect my intelligence or who won’t take the time to understand who I am and what I need so that they can provide information that’s useful.

So differentiate your marketing for marketing differentiation!!


Learn more about how Inbound Marketing can help differentiate your business, build trusting relationships with your prospects and lead to more sales.

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The image is from the Flickr photostream of Timparkinson under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Strategy, Marketing, Lead Generation, Market Differentiation

Jazz Drummer's Online Marketing Tip: Write Your Signature on the Ride

Posted by Ellie Becker on Tue, Jan 24, 2012 @ 00:01 AM

Jazz musicians are some of the most brilliant people on the planet and I always learn something from them that can apply to business and online marketing. Over the years I’ve posted numerous times about lessons from jazz – including this one from August of 2010 when Jeff and I heard a fabulous trio led by the legendary Hammond B-3 organist Dr. Lonnie Smith (now almost 70 years old) with young sidemen Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar and Jamire Williams on drum.

We heard this stellar group again last Saturday night and they were even more inspiring.  In addition to an idea for a book, which I’m beginning to explore, the experience and curiosity led me the next day to a video interview with Jamire Williams at the North Sea Jazz Festival. It yielded the title of this post. Read on and I’ll explain.

Right after Saturday night’s sets, I had said to Jeff (who, if you don’t read here regularly, is the love of my life and a nascent drummer, himself) that when it comes to drummers, the great ones always have fabulous, recognizable cymbal technique. In the interview, when asked about the drumming influences for his unusual open style, Jamire named several renowned jazz drummers – all of whom are known for their unique cymbal work.

And then, in responding to a question about his aspirations, he refined the thought I had shared with Jeff, saying, “The great drummers write their signature on the ride – and that’s what I am trying to do.”

What’s the ride? The following is grabbed from Wikipedia:

“The ride is a standard cymbal in most drum kits. It maintains a steady rhythmic pattern, rather than an accent beat (which is the job of the aptly named crash cymbal - my note).

The term ride means to ride with the music. In jazz, the ride cymbal is most often struck regularly in a rhythmic pattern as part of the accompaniment to the song.”

Sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it? Drumming along with the beat of the song. Keeping time. Yet within this regular steady realm, the greatest drummers find a way to differentiate themselves -- to develop a sound so unique that they can be identified by their steady work on the ride.

Usually we get excited by drum solos and their attendant fireworks. There are great drum solos that stand out in history - think Joe Morello on Dave Brubeck's Time Out. But I’m intrigued by the idea of writing your signature within the more mundane aspects of what we do -- within the workmanlike competency of keeping time on the ride.

Do what your competitors do, but do it in a way that’s unmistakably yours. Be in the mainstream, best practices-wise, but in a way that’s not like anyone else.

To illustrate the point, I’m uploading a link to  of one of Jamire Williams’ inspirations for writing his signature on the ride – Jack DeJohnette. DeJohnette is one-third of the historic jazz trio rounded out by Keith Jarrett on piano and Gary Peacock on bass. To jazz fans, Jack’s playing is unmistakable.

Even if you aren’t a music or jazz fan, please take a close look and listen. When you watch the video, focus on Jack’s right hand beating a steady and incredibly creative beat on the big ride cymbal.

After awhile, you’ll hear its influence even when you’re not watching it. It leads the entire ensemble, even though it seems as though it’s in the background. If you can hear that, it’s the first step to doing the same in your own environment.


End note: If you'd like to write your own signature in online marketing click below to access 20 Reasons Why You Should Improve Your Marketing With HubSpot.


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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Online Marketing, Market Differentiation, Jazz

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