In the past I’ve argued for the value of sharing more, rather than less, of your consulting smarts in your thought leadership content and case studies.

Yet I keep running into resistance when I ask for examples of how my clients work their magic with customers and specifics of the challenges they’ve overcome for them. As a result, everything from white papers to ebooks to product and service descriptions are full of the same general, vague, and repetitive promises and gauzy goals a customer gets from my client’s competitors.

Here are the three main reasons I hear for not sharing “proprietary” knowledge in marketing content, and why I think each of them are wrong:

  1. Our readers understand the business problems and we don’t want to talk down to them by being too specific. Point taken about not being condescending. But you don’t want to bore them to death, either, by being too vague. Explaining a very specific case where you helped a client shows you can do what you claim, and that you have hands-on experience with the technology and/or industry in question.
  2. We don’t want to get too specific because we want to spark a further conversation with the reader. For me, actual success stories and specific tips spur me to click through to the next video, podcast, or blog post. The same vague claims and promises as your competitors aren’t, I suspect, generating those requests for follow-up conversations your marketing efforts need.
  3. If we tell them how to do it in our content, they won’t need us. My first, and easy response, is whether your secret sauce is so thin we could sum it up in a 2,500-word white paper? Of course not. Your value doesn’t come in knowing in general how to tackle the really big technical, change management or “digital transformation” initiatives, but how to do it in the real world. That requires, among other things, learning from past mistakes and knowing how to overcome the “real world” organizational, logistical and culture issues you only learn about from experience.

Sell Your Experience

There is no way a reader can acquire any of this from anything you would write, at least in the 1,500 to 2,000 word format that’s the high range of most of the content I write. It’s even harder to condense this expertise into a Webinar or video. And even if they could, most customers don’t want to steal the recipe for your secret sauce and do the cooking themselves. They want assurance that you have the secret sauce and know how to use it to help them.

For example, I provide detailed advice for writing marketing content in my blog. I have no fear my readers will use my advice to become expert writers because that’s not their skill set and they’re too busy running their own businesses to become professional writers. My aim is to show I’m so expert and experienced I can give away my “secrets” and have plenty more value to offer once they hire me. Which they do.

Have I broken through any of the resistance or do you still think your methodologies, frameworks and processes are too valuable to share?

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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