A Wiser – Hanley Slapdown?
So earlier this week I’m cruising through my stream and come across this post by Ryan Hanley, titled Google Killed the Generalist. I opened it up, started reading, and I was like “Serious, Hanley! Are you kidding me?”
He was talking smack about the generalists, and that got my feathers ruffled a little. It was a sweeping attack. It was haughty. It was condescending. “Are you a generalist?” Hanley asked. “That’s too bad. Actually, I should say, “I’m sorry … Google Killed the generalist.”
I had to write a rebuttal. I couldn’t let this slide. You see, my company, Wiser Sites, is a bona fide generalist – a general contractor, a one-stop shop marketing agency. We hire specialists for our clients, but we are generalists … and we are proud of it!
I put up a rebuttal post that sparked a discussion with over 75 thoughtful and inspired comments. Then, two more blog articles made reference to the debate, and others began picking up on the discussion.
The conversation spilled over to Twitter, where Hanley wrote “Wiser about to get hangout slapped.”
Let’s do this!
The truth is, Ryan and I are good friends – but that doesn’t mean we can’t disagree. Ryan Hanley joined us this week to talk about killer tactical marketing … and to help us understand how to win the battle for attention online … one headline at a time.
Why bother with Content Marketing?
On Track Tips: Let’s take a minute and frame this conversation. What is “Content” and what is the goal of “Content Marketing”?
Ryan Hanley: Content marketing is creating and sharing media in an effort to build an audience. I don’t believe the goal in content marketing should be to make sales. Sales come from human beings. Content attracts them to you. What you want to do with content marketing is get a group of people to like, trust, and believe in what you are doing. Once you have that group, you can activate them and generate revenue. But that is a completely different thing.Content marketing is focused solely on building an audience.Click To Tweet
On Track Tips: There are a ton of marketing strategies: Social marketing, email marketing, direct marketing, paid traffic – must all of these include content marketing or is it possible that these marketing strategies can exist without content marketing?
Ryan Hanley: Content marketing is only about getting people to believe in you. Separate messaging extracts revenue. The audience-building methodology is the only strategy that will take you through all the twists and turns of the times. Maybe Google will decide it doesn’t like the color yellow on webpages, and drops your yellow-themed site from search results. The only thing that can weather that is a group of people who follow and believe in you. If you don’t have them, you will have to pay for them. It’s all about audience building.
Cautions about Content Marketing
On Track Tips: Content marketing is a long play. What cautions do you give to small business owners who are thinking about embarking on the journey?
Ryan Hanley: Don’t try to market to everybody. Content marketing works best when you talk with a specific group of people. To be successful as quickly as possible, concentrate on your expertise. Once you have established authority and built an audience, you can expand.Understand who you want to speak with first, then be the expert on one topic valuable to that audience.Click To Tweet
Is Sensationalism fair play?
On Track Tips: Two primary content marketing strategies are sensationalist headlines and answering a question. The first is link bait. Talk a little about these approaches to content marketing.
Ryan Hanley: Link bait is only a bad thing if you get nothing of value when you click through. You have to give people a reason to click the link. There are millions of links created every day. A headline that attracts readers is not sensationalism if it provides valuable content. I am all for interesting, exciting headlines … as long as they deliver. My first content marketing campaign was a “100 questions about insurance in 100 days” video series. Answering questions can be one of the most effective ways for a small business to generate traffic, brand awareness, and new business.
What about the critics?
On Track Tips: The article that sparked this conversation, Google Killed the Generalist, brought you a lot of flack from those who said you were using sensationalism to get attention … that the article was of no real value. What do you say to those critics?
Ryan Hanley: People bash on Seth Godin … and he is smarter than all of us combined. Everybody is going to jump on somebody. I wrote that article from my own strong opinions. If you don’t like that … tough. Everyone has preferences and opinions. For every negative comment, there were positive comments. I know what works in content marketing for small business. I have done it. If 20% of readers don’t hate what I write, I’m not doing a good job.As long as you are being transparent, authentic, and honest, your audience will stick with you and appreciate your work.Click To Tweet
What do you do if you can’t write well?
On Track Tips: If today’s marketing for business is dependent on a foundation of content marketing … what hope is there for the small business owner who can’t write?
Ryan Hanley: Not all content needs to be written. You could do audio, video, or imagery. Another option is content curation or content re-purposing.
Q. Do small business owners need to have a blog on their website?
Q. Does the blog have to be in your voice, or can you outsource it to content creators?
A. Can, yes. Should, no. People will forgive lack of writing skills in exchange for your expertise. You can always hire an editor to help out.
Ryan’s final say: Once you have established yourself on a topic, you can expand your work. At the beginning, to get traction, focus on one or two things.
About Ryan Hanley:
He’s the president of Hanley Media Labs, a content marketing consultancy helping companies “Grow their audience to grow their business.” He is the host of the weekly podcast series, “Content Warfare” and he’s publishing his first book, Content Warfare: How to find your audience, tell your story and win the battle for attention online, which he crowd-funded in just 21 days and raised over $10,000. Ryan Hanley understands Marketing and, more so, he understands Content Marketing.