In a recent email, Createxdigital offered a simple yet powerful research suggestion for content marketing. Specifically, they advised content writers to actually talk to prospects and customers — both directly in interviews and also indirectly by “listening in” on sales calls. Their email message instructed:
Interview existing customers to find out what challenges they hit in their jobs and why they use your product. Makes notes of ‘friction points.’ [Also] be a silent observer on sales calls and make notes of [those] friction points.
While the idea of picking up the phone and calling people might strike some of today’s content writers and copywriters as a radical notion, it is not. In fact, doing this kind of proactive, primary research is how traditional journalists have been writing their articles for years. Why? Because primary research enables you to have discussions with subject matter experts and others who know more about your topic than you do. As a result, you gather information that is more detailed, specific, insightful, in-depth, expert, accurate, and often much more interesting than you otherwise would.
To my mind, too many content writers today are either lazy about doing the hard work of primary research — or indifferent about the quality of their finished product. So, they never pick up the phone or send an email to a source in search of information, and instead take the easy way out:
- They Google the subject matter.
- Grab the first three or four articles they find with their online search.
- And then cobble these old articles together into their article.
- They mistakenly believe their new article is indeed “new.”
But actually, their piece is just a warmed-over rehash of what has already been written about that same topic — an endless number of times. The end result is “Google goulash.”
Now, Google goulash is quick and easy to produce, and therefore, dirt-cheap to commission and buy. Unlike mainstream journalism, Google goulash has little to offer the reader in the way of originality, freshness, intelligence, or real value of any kind. Hint: If the writer’s only mission was to improve SEO for the marketer, the articles more likely than not will be cut-rate content — utter Google goulash.
Google goulash rarely, if ever, positions you as an authoritative expert. It does not do your brand proud. It does not engage your audience. In fact, it often does the opposite.
Worse, if your Google goulash writer copies or plagiarizes too much text from the source articles, Google may detect the duplication, and then penalize you in the search engine rankings when you post it on your site.
Obviously, not what you want, right?