Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Conversion Optimization

Fight Premature Monetization – Add a Second Step to Your Content Marketing

Jay Baer Blog PostGary Vaynerchuk often warns against the “19 year old dude move” – when over zealous businesses try to close the deal on the first social media transaction.

Flickr image from Jurischk

There’s no question that companies are applying rigid direct marketing principles to social media, not recognizing that social is the long con, not a smash and grab. That same trend toward premature monetization is rampant in content marketing too, especially on blogs.

Content Marketing Step by Step

Blog posts are feathers. Outwardly showy and used to attract attention. Lightweight. Ephemeral. Biodegradable. In the immortal lyrics of Eddie Rabbit, blog posts are “…That first step. Ask her out and treat her like a lady.”

You have Eddie Rabbit’s third step covered. You know how to “Take her in your arms and never let her go” via contact forms, phone numbers and other deal closing devices.

It’s the second step that’s missing on too many blogs. Where’s the part where you “tell her she’s the one you’re dreaming of”?

You don’t get hired based on blog posts. You don’t sell products based on blog posts. Blog posts are not “rocket content” that gets printed out and elevated (like a rocket) to the C-Suite in your prospective customers’ organizations.

Do you really think that someone is going to read a blog post or three and immediately pick up the phone or click “contact”? It’s not that easy, nor are your prospects. If you’re happy with your blog, shift your focus now to providing informational dinner and a movie.

Contact Us is Massively Overrated

Google’s remarkable Zero Moment of Truth research (one of most important publications for digital marketers in the past five years, and embedded below) contains a remarkable statistic:

In 2011, the average online shopper used 10.4 sources of information to make a decision, up from 5.3 sources in 2010.

In one year, information consumed by online shoppers pre-purchase almost doubled. Ubiquitous knowledge immediately accessible has made us all prudish paramours, eschewing physical contact as long as possible. You know what happens when you fill out a contact form? You get an email or a call from a sales rep. And unless you’re ready to buy, that’s a hindrance not a help. Social media and content marketing is the playground of the passive-agressive, and we’ll rely on self-serve information until we’re so deep in the conversion funnel that we have to talk to a live body to get our very specific questions answered.

If we need 10 pieces of information to make a decision, your prospect isn’t likely to read 10 blogs posts. Or even five. So, when you skip the second step of content marketing, you violate the ZMOT principle and create dissonance within your prospective customer. “This blog is great, but I need more information or something I can bring to my boss. I don’t see anything else here other than a phone number.” (cue angst and ennui)

Fixing Information Asymmetry

To fill the second step donut hole that lies between blogs posts and contact information, first think about what your prospective customers don’t know. Assume your readers came in cold from search or social media. After digesting a killer blog post or two, have you given readers proof of worth through testimonials or other devices? Do they understand the products or services you provide and costs? The people in your organization? How you compare to other companies in your space? More importantly, have you shown them how you can HELP them, not just SELL them?

Usually, no. The blog is a nice smile, soft hair, and kind eyes. Now you need to show what’s inside.

We often assume that if they are interested, readers will click over to the contact information and begin a dialog via email or telephone. But, ZMOT shows that to be unlikely (as will your Google Analytics). The companion assumption is that blog readers will click through to the “main” website, and will learn more about the company there. While that tends to happen more than Contact Us visits, it puts the onus on the reader to decipher a new way-finding mechanism and sort through the mounds of mostly pointless information you’ve uploaded to your corporate website because “hell, there’s no harm in adding another page.” This is the equivalent of actually going to dinner and a movie, but making your date pick the movie, drive the car, order the meal, and pay for it. Too much work for them.

The best way to take the second step in content marketing (especially a blog) is to methodically create and test helpful content that is immediately accessible.

  • This content should be a brick, not a feather (more substantial than a blog post. a webinar replay, ebook, podcast, et al) This content should help, not sell. What’s the most useful things you could provide your prospective customers? Be a YOUtility.
  • This content should have handles. Make it downloadable, embeddable, portable, and formatted exceptionally well. That’s the type of content that gets emailed to the boss, or printed and left on her desk.
  • This content should not be a sales pitch, but should include your core value proposition within it. This content will often be consumed by people who have never seen your blog or website, so don’t assume any knowledge of you.
  • This content should not contain lead forms. That’s a third step move. That’s a closer move. As Joe Chernov from Eloqua says, “forms are the enemy of spread.” You want this content accessible to all.

I don’t do the second step very well here on Convince & Convert. I’m working on a full-blown website redesign that will address some of these issues, as well as some other usability elements from my conversation with Derek Halpern a while back on conversion optimization. (check out the video, you’ll learn something guaranteed).

Meanwhile, for ideas on how to do the second step right, take a look at blogs from:


Winning the Zero Moment of Truth

Facebook Comments


  1. kaliwhipple says

    Funny and so true. We shouldn’t do the “19 year-old dude move” and try to close after the first move. We definitely need to provide something to the readers instead of just attracting them and drawing them in.

  2. says

    I like this post. It has helped me in building my blog. I have realized in my own efforts that it’s better to be cordial  and not try to force people to do what you want. Most likely if your content is worthy people will share through natural instinct because it is something they like. I see the internet moving into using soft skills to sell rather than the hard core selling strategies that have been in the past. Like I don’t like going to a site and seeing a ton of advertisements and pop ups when I do within minutes I close out the site and move on. Most sites I enjoy have minimal ads and pop outs. It is ignoring. Just thought I should leave my opinion because this has helped me. Thank you for your posts.

  3. says

    Thanks Jay.  Havent read you in awhile.  Sorry.  This is great content with lots of value.
      I have a long way to go.  Appreciate all your knowledge.  I will be back soon.
    Take CARE.

  4. jaybaer says

    @stevelausch I’m all about the metaphor, which is why my whole schtick is basically a rip-off of Dennis Miller + Bill Bryson.

    • stevelausch says

      @jaybaer Personally diggin’ the Eddie Rabbit reference. BTW, thinking I saw you at ET’s ’10 Connections conf?? Great hearing from you, Jay.

  5. says

    When I get asked questions about how content moves someone along to a sale, I sometimes have to hold my breath. Then let it out, think of the ocean, the beach, on a beautiful day. “Great” content is so subjective, and we get caught in the trap of thinking we know how prospects and even our customers, think. Marketers are the worst at this. The strategy for a new candy is and should be completely different than one for an enterprise software solution. Yet, many would treat them the same way. Provide value as someone is making their decision. Provide value, even if they don’t make one, or buy your stuff. Get into the conversation mix, and try really hard to exhibit some authority. They might even come back, and then buy your stuff. Stop mistaking incessant gabber, the cute one liners, the hooks, for something substantial, even worthy of attention. 

  6. jchernov says

    Thanks for the shout-out, Jay. Fact: Not even “80’s crooner” Eddie Rabbitt himself coulda helped the 19 year old version of me make it to step three. :) (Great post btw) -Joe

  7. says

    Great post, Jay, thanks.  A lot of good actionable business ideas, especially things NOT to do.  Look forward to the new site. Eddie Rabbitt? I pegged you as a Boz Scaggs guy.

  8. willsmith says

    Best blog post I have read today. Really nicely done Jay. Yeah, it is that second part that is the tough one. 

  9. tcmarketeer says

    Great post Jay! It’s awesome to see when businesses don’t immediately jump on new readers during a content marketing campaign and really nurture those leads while they’re part of the community. 

  10. says

    You had me at ‘Fight Premature Monetizaton’—what a great headline. My new business is in its early days and I’m very glad to have come across this post. Time to go and do some more research on that second step (and read the ZMOT ebook). Thanks, Jay.

  11. herbalifeinquiry says

    Hi Jay, I enjoyed your post.  You made some helpful points about content marketing.  I remain in progress.  Thanks so much.

  12. be3d says

     @JayBaer I agree with 99% of this…except the part where you link to my Rocket Content post. See, you’re right that the blog doesn’t make the phone ring, doesn’t provide the direct link in the chain to deal close. But blog posts are being sent up the chain and command to the decision makers, and it’s happening more and more every day. I hear it from my sales guys, the boots on the ground. I see it in my inbox. Blog content is creeping farther and farther into the pipeline, and up the ladder. It’s still primarily an awareness generator, and not a sales tool–that’s the meat of your post here, and that’s absolutely true. 
    Every single study about C-level info-gathering in the last few years has shown an increasing reliance on blogs and social information. But the trick is, they’re not looking for info about your products there, they’re looking to see if you know what the hell you’re talking about, and if you’ll be a partner for the long-haul that will know which way the wind is blowing. 

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