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The Limitations of Content and Conversation

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It’s trendy today to say that traditional marketing doesn’t work anymore.

The “new marketing” gurus tell us that, instead of “marketing speak” (traditional sales materials), we should use one of two things to do our selling.

One is giving away valuable free content.

The other is Web 2.0, social networking, forums, wikis, and other forms of “conversation.”

But … isn’t there some point where you have to leave the cozy world of publishing free content and chatting — and actually get down to some selling?

Don’t we have to — especially for products prospects want instead of need (e.g., nutritional supplements, investment newsletters) — tap into the prospect’s fears and desires — and get him to focus on our product as the solution?

Don’t we have to prove our product’s value … explain its benefits … demonstrate its superiority over competing offers … overcome objections … and close the order?

In other words, don’t we have to convince the consumer — with copy that sells — to buy what we are selling?

Or can we eliminate old-fashioned “sales copy” (e.g., direct mail, e-mail, and other forms of intrusion marketing) … and just educate prospects with free content — and then engage them in conversation — and get them to buy that way?

Or is marketing today really a combination of the “old” rules of marketing (ads, direct mail, trade shows, PR) and the “new” rules (content, conversation, RSS feeds, blogging)?

If it’s a combination, why do so many blogging evangelists and other social media advocates feel the need to build up what they offer by bashing conventional marketing? Why do they badmouth it in everything they write?

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