Now I must say Neil Patel is one entrepreneur that I have high regards for. That is why I’m subscribed to his blog… Besides, I have also read some of his insightful tutorials n internet marketing, SEO and social media marketing and I must say they are indeed beyond the average.
However, when I saw this title in my inbox (I am also subscribed to the Hubspot Blog) there was an immediately reaction from my inside after the reading the opening paragraph:
“As an entrepreneur and a content marketer, I recommend that you write your own content. I understand that there are many objections, but all these objections can easily be overcome. What I want to explain in this article are several of the reasons that I write my own content, and why I think you should do the same.”
But all the same, I decided I must know what reasons Neil Patel has that he is advocating for entrepreneurs to write their own content.
I must say though he mentioned his purpose in the article was to explain the reasons why he writes his own content and therefore thinks you should also, reading through his article gave me more objections rather than being convinced.
And so, I have decided to do this post as a response to Neil Patel’s article. I do hope you gain something from it.
The Challenge of Content Creation for Business Entrepreneurs!
Before expressing my thoughts on the issues raised by Neil Patel in his post, I want to point that one of the challenges of content marketing that businesses have been battling with over the years is the challenge of producing enough engaging content. Over the past few years different studies and research findings have shown that this is really a big concern for marketers.
For example, in a recent study by Mass Relevance and the CMO Club, about 95% of Fortune 500 CMOs all believed that creating and finding new, timely, and engaging content is one of their biggest challenges in 2014!
And this is not in any way different from another report by MarketingProfs and Junta42 (now CMI) back in 2010 where about 36% of marketers indicated producing engaging content followed by producing enough content, as their top challenge.
As you can see from these studies, the situation in 2010 is not in any way better in 2014 – in 2014 47% have the challenge of producing engaging content as against the 36% in 2010!
Another challenge that is glaring in the 2014 report is that many indicated lack of time and producing enough content as a challenge!
But if this is the situation why will someone like Neil Patel advocate that entrepreneurs should create their own marketing content?
Of course, as an IM and a content marketing evangelist reading through his post was enough to know that the article was simply marketing and SEO tactic to promote his services. However, I ask you to read my reactions to the said post so you can make your own decision.
To help you understand the context of this discussion I’m taking it point by point as presented by Neil Patel in his post. For each point I will quote portions of the reasons he gave and then throw in my response.
So, let’s begin…
1) You are the only one who can express your own voice.
“Your voice is an important part of creating and sustaining a brand or service. No one else on the planet, not even your mom, can have the exact voice that you have. A writer’s voice is one of a kind. It’s like a fingerprint — unique to you and only you.
“As an entrepreneur, I’ve been able to develop a voice that attracts other entrepreneurs. I can speak the language, share the challenges, and identify with the concerns of other entrepreneurs. By developing a voice, I’ve been able to develop a following. And that has made all the difference in the world.”
My response to this:
As much as you are encouraged to develop your own voice when it comes to writing your marketing content, it must be pointed out that the success of your content is not basically about you but about your target audience. It is about the pains she has and how your product or service can help solve that pain.
Creating fresh, relevant content is much more than putting out a good idea. In order to hit your business target with your marketing content the piece should be able to engage your prospects and customers. As seen above this is a challenge for many businesses.
It is clear that not every entrepreneur has the qualities of creating such a marketing piece. Yes, Neil Patel definitely has what it takes to do this but those who don’t must not be seen as committing a crime if they opt for professional web content writers.
2) Your brand needs to be authentic.
“Even if they’re writing for a company, every entrepreneur, innovator, marketer, or business leader needs to view themselves as a brand, too.
Everything about you affects your brand — your pictures, your citations, your tweets, your content, your followers, etc. All of these shape how people view and respond to you as an individual.
To take this a step further, you need to take on the responsibility for developing this brand… Branding relies on content — and that content is up to you.”
My response to this:
There is no doubt, in our today’s socially integrated business world every business must have a “personality” that your customers can relate with. But that “personality” does not necessarily need to be your personal brand – except of course, if your business is a service business that is not easily separated from your person!
And I think this is why Neil Patel is taking this stance. As an entrepreneur, Patel has a Traffic Generation Training Program (Traffic University). It is therefore clear that he definitely need to build his personal brand as a prerequisite to promoting his training program!
Truth be told, content marketing takes time, energy and focus which, if not handled carefully, can keep you away from doing much on your business. I think a better way to handle this as an entrepreneur is to determine your voice, develop a plan for how to speak to your target audience from an expert and resourceful standpoint and then plan a way to share your knowledge with your target audience in a way that you don’t alienate them.
Once you have this in place, you can devote to occasionally write some of your marketing content while leveraging the expertise of professional content writers who can work with you to do most of work!
3) You need the experience of speaking directly to your audience.
“The value of writing your own content runs in two directions. First, writing content delivers value to your audience. They hear you, understand you, and respond to you. Second, writing content delivers value to you as the producer of that content. You are learning — informing yourself about what your audience needs.
To write is to learn. When I research issues and share my viewpoints, I’m learning, too.”
Once again, I totally agree that you can learn more by teaching. And yes, writing your marketing content has a way of helping you to be more educated about your target audience and even your product.
But you don’t have to write that content before you can learn from it. In fact, when there is another angle written by someone else you are bound to learn more.
Beyond that however, I must say that Patel has just brought out one of the reasons entrepreneurs SHOULDN’T write all their marketing content. Writing valuable content demand a lot of research. To create an engaging piece of content that resonates with your target audience, you need a lot of planning, research and effort. Considering the fact that you need to do this all the time in order to create “enough” content to drive your marketing machine, getting the help of professional web content writers is something you really cannot ignore.
4) You need the experience of responding to your audience.
“Not only do I speak directly to my audience, but I also respond to them.
You’ll notice that when readers comment on my blog, I try to respond. I may not be able to answer every single question in depth, but I read and acknowledge what people are saying.
I read every email I receive. I listen, and respond.
I love this part of content marketing — the interaction! But I couldn’t do any of this if I weren’t writing” the content.”
Like #3 above, there is again the problem of time. For goodness sake, you only have 24hrs in a day to run your business.
I must say as a blogger I preached and practiced this sermon of responding to every comment received on your blog. For about 3 years, I did just that but one thing that I learned within this period was the fact that I was spending too much responding to comments and of course, reciprocating fellow bloggers who were posting comments on my blog by visiting and posting comments on their blogs!
But today I have come to realize that that “scratch my back I scratch your back” mentality of bloggers rarely produce any valuable results for your business.
Of course, as an entrepreneur who is building his personal brand to boost his consulting and training program, Patel can afford to spend most of his time creating his own content in order to better respond to blog comments. But I really do not see an entrepreneur who has so much in his hands trying to do this every day.
To better understand my views on this I invite you to read a post I did some time ago on my internet marketing blog titled: “Are You a Blogger or an Entrepreneur?” If you want to take this further, you may also want to read, “Hey Blogger, Please Quit!”
Surmise it to say that running a business online is not about activities but results! This is why big businesses hire dedicated hands to take care of the content marketing needs of their businesses.
5) You need to stay current with trends and issues in your niche.
“Sometimes, business leaders become completely detached from their niche. They become so preoccupied with running the business that they lose touch with what the whole environment in which their business operates.
Writing is by far the most valuable way to stay current with the trends and issues in my niche. Not only do I get to stay personally informed, but I also get to inform others. Plus, I get to develop thought leadership on those issues.”
I really do not know what Neil Patel meant when he said, “running their business.” If you are truly running that business how does this make you lose touch with the whole environment in which your business operates – except of course, if you’re managing that business through hired managers?
If truly you are running that business you definitely will need to review your operations from time to time in order to understanding the different aspects of the business. You want to know how your product/service is doing relative to your target audience’s needs. You definitely also want to know the current trends in the market. But you don’t have to write your marketing content before you can know all of these. There are other tools in the market to carry out such research.
Frankly, I do not believe that “writing is by far the most valuable way to stay current with the trends and issues in my niche.” Being a solo-preneur does not mean you must do everything yourself. You need the skills, experience and time of freelancers or other professionals.
6) You need to learn the practice of content marketing.
“We live in an age that is defined by the practice of content marketing. Content is an indispensable part of marketing.
Every business leader needs to learn content marketing. This is the rubber-meets-the road of brand building and formation. It is the sine qua non of marketing best practice. When you’re involved knee-deep in coming up with topics, wrangling the research, and producing content on that issue, you truly understand what content marketing is all about — and how to use it to reach your audience.
That is an invaluable skill in today’s marketing environment. You’ve got to do it in order to know it, and lead others to do it as well.”
This by far is where I want to agree with Neil Patel ALMOST in totality. Content marketing “is the sine qua non of marketing best practice” in today’s social media world of business marketing. But again, this does not mean the business leader MUST devote himself to writing his own content because he wants to learn content marketing.
What is should be rather is that the business leader should learn the science and art of content marketing so when the need arises for him to hire content writers he wouldn’t be in the dark about what he is actually looking for. With an understanding of what content marketing is he will be able to know what valuable and engaging content is and what an SEO-optimized piece of content is.
Without such an understanding it stand to reason that when you hire some “professional content writer” to produce your content, you will not be able to appreciate what you have.
So, as a business leader learn the science and art of content marketing but better still, learn how to leverage the skills and expertise of professional content writers to drive your content marketing machine.
And, the best way to do this is to learn how to choose the right content writer!
I want to appreciate the effort of Neil Patel in his post in encouraging business leaders, marketing professionals, and entrepreneurs to write their own content. However, considering what it takes to produce web content that drives valuable traffic and leads for your business, you don’t have to write your content yourself. You must learn as an entrepreneur and business leader to leverage the skills of other professionals if you truly want to achieve your business targets at the right time.
Over to you: What do you think about entrepreneurs writing all of their marketing content? On what of the divide do you stand? Share your thought with us in your comments below.