Why I Don't Write "How To" Posts For Digital Marketing
Marketing in the digital age is an art. Yes, we all love Bob Ross and his painting programs.
Much of this "How To" content out there is rip-and-repeat click bait. Yep, I said it. They are using the tools that you are researching against you. Have you ever had one of those Ah Ha! moments after reading one of those blogs? Probably not. You were probably more likely to have walked away with some basic cursory knowledge of a topic and a list of links that the author wanted you to click for their services. SEO is no wizardry practice and anyone who tells you they have a search engine's algorithm figured out is selling you a bridge over the Hudson River.
But let's get back to digital marketing or marketing in general. Let's get really basic as to what good marketing is: putting the right message in the right space at the right time. Right? Not brain surgery. Good composition in art is the same no matter what medium you use or the subject you choose. The tools for digital marketing are varied but all rely on some of the same basic principals. Paid Search, Banner/Video/Display Ads, Organic Content, and Email or some form of direct communication are some of the basic choices for any marketer. Like the artist choosing their medium, the complexity or simplicity of the mix of tools anyone one person uses is individually tailored to a subject and purpose. Marketing is not paint-by-numbers. If it a marketer could say 5 emails, 1 Display Campaign, and 2 Blog posts is the formula to success we would all be out of jobs. (but to be honest, I've seen way to many agencies that market themselves as the source for marketing paint by numbers).
However, paint by numbers and these "how to" articles do serve a purpose. They are a great starting point for research. They can provide jumping off points for ideas. For art, they may provide an insight into color pallets or subject you find interesting. In marketing, "how to" blogs can show you the variety of tactics that you can apply. They can also show you some pitfalls to avoid. However, I have not found a single post that is the expert voice on marketing, digital or otherwise.
"How to....." is a great way to start delving into marketing and I have certainly used it as a jumping off point in campaigns that I have created.
I started this post by saying I don't write "how to" posts... but here it is... How To Use "how to" Posts
Read voraciously- Read as many posts involving the keywords of topics you are interested as tie allows. This will build a broad pallet with which to paint your marketing story.
Read critically- Read with doubt, as if you are being sold something. Is there meat to the article or is it a skillfully created organization of keywords and links
Go deep- Scroll past the ad posts in your SERPs and maybe even go to the second or third page of results and find that gem.
Take notes- Create your own opinion and don't fall subject to click bait. Find what you need, what to avoid, and then find the right partner with which to execute/paint.
So why don't I write "how to" posts (besides this one)? I am not Leonardo DiVinci for everyone. I do try to offer opinions and insights that consider as many possible outcomes as possible. I try to speak from my experience, not from yours. I try to listen to your unique and individual challenges. "How To" articles, in my opinion, are one way pieces of communication. I would rather give you an opinion or my thoughts on a certain aspect of a challenge and start a dialogue with you. I want to frame my writings as my opinion, not as gospel. I prefer to talk with you, not at you. Which is a trait that I find lacking in many marketing organizations lately.