Truth vs. spin in content marketing

As an English major in college, I avoided creative writing classes. Now, as a freelance marketing writer, I’m still avoiding fiction writing, but for another reason.  I don’t want to inadvertently write something that’s not true about the technology products I’m helping companies pitch.

Marketing has a wink-wink-nudge-nudge reputation for spin.  But there’s good spin, and bad spin.

  • Good spin pitches the benefits of solution, without stretching credulity
  • Bad spin glosses over important limitations, or otherwise misleads the prospect about what they would eventually get

Why care if you make the sale? Because you have to look beyond the sale to ongoing customer satisfaction. And because dissatisfied customers can  do more damage than the best marketing program can fix. You know the old saying about how good advertising kills bad products faster?  It holds for social media marketing as well, and social media  accelerates the potential disastrous impact of misleading prospects.

Should I hide sales objections?

The theory used to be that you should carefully avoid introducing potential objections – why put ideas into prospects’ heads?  Let the sales team handle the objections, with carefully scripted responses, when they happen.

That strategy doesn’t work anymore.

Today’s technology customers do their research long before they talk to any salesperson.  That’s why you’ve got to address sales objections proactively, even if it means telling the prospect about the possible objection in the first place.  Somewhere in the content lifecycle you need pieces that address sales objections – using a FAQ, or a paper on a specific concern or issue.  And this content must include an honest assessment of the objection and the customer’s options, rather than glossing over concerns.

What if there’s a more serious flaw in my product?

If you’ve identified it, of course you’ll work to fix it. And then you should let people know that you’re fixing it.

It may be painful, but it’s always easier to take the short-term damage of admitting a problem than the long-term pain of covering it up.  It’s like a publicly-traded company that fudges or manipulates its revenue numbers to avoid a short-term hit. The damage of the cover-up is usually much worse than the damage of just telling the truth right up front.

2 Comments on “Truth vs. spin in content marketing

  1. “Handling Objections” was always my favorite part of writing sales guides, and the sales people found it very helpful. Even in nonprofit marketing, I always ask my clients to review possible objections or resistance so I can incorporate this into my writing. As you’ve rightly pointed out, it’s better to address issues proactively. Great piece!

  2. Thanks, Claire! I hadn’t thought about the nonprofit angle, but of course it’s true there, too.

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