Content Marketing: How to Sell a Pencil

Content Creation Services at Zero- One Design
The dos and dont's of content marketing and the importance of content creation and providing valuable content. 

Let me tell you a story.

Many years ago I went for a job interview for a position of a mortgage advisor for an estate agency chain. I don’t think I really wanted the job that much; it was one of a number I interviewed for after graduating university. If I’m honest back then I wasn’t a great interviewee, I certainly wouldn’t have given me the job!
When I think of my interview technique back then, or lack thereof, I’m reminded of something the American comedian Stephen Wright once said: “I was in an interview for a job I didn’t want. The guy asked me if I had any questions. I said ‘sure, if a car’s travelling at the speed of light and you switch the headlamps on, do they work?’ he said ‘I don’t know’, I said ‘well forget it then, I don’t want to work for you anyway!’”
I’m sitting there, uncomfortable in my first suit, and the interviewer handed me a pencil. She said “Sell me that pencil.” I looked at the pencil, I looked at her…”erm”…I looked at the pencil again. How do you sell a pencil? I mean, a pencil is just a pencil, right? You either want it or you don’t. The clock’s ticking, she wants an answer. I start mumbling about it being red, made of wood and graphite and..er…you can write with it. Eventually the interviewer had had enough: “thank you, we’ll be in touch” She said with an unconvincing smile. The job wasn’t mine, but come on – how do you sell a pencil?
If I was selling that pencil now I would have took her hand, figuratively, and led her on a journey of wonderment. The pencil is, you see, the sharpest tool in any box. I would have invited her to walk down any street and imagine how empty they would be if an architect hadn’t picked up a pencil. I would have shown her the greatest works of art: they wouldn’t exist if the artist hadn’t first drawn the outline with a pencil. Cars, buses, trains, ships, planes; none would have been invented without someone sat over a drawing board holding a pencil. Poems, stories, songs, letters, the notes for this article, all may have been written in pencil.
If you think about it, we have so much to thank the pencil for. Without a pencil used for design there would have been no industrial revolution, there would be no such thing as a mortgage advisor (probably) and I wouldn’t have been sat there interviewing for a job I didn’t want, sweating over trying to sell the damn thing.
The difference is, instead of describing what it is, I should have concentrated on the value it would bring. ‘Value’ being the magic word – not what it is but what it would mean to you, how your life would improve if you owned one.
Content marketing isn’t about the hard sell. Potential customers don’t react kindly towards things being thrust upon them. If you own a website selling pencils, don’t concentrate on the actual sales pitch, concentrate on content creation. Give them valuable content. Tell visitors to your site a story; tell them about the history of the pencil, give them interesting facts about pencils to digest, write articles for your blog that they’ll keep coming back for. Throw in a chance to win tickets to visit the pencil museum in Keswick, Cumbria (yes, there is one!). Use your content to engage with visitors, bringing them back to your site, give them value, the pencils will sell themselves.
If you have a website and you are interested in filling it with valuable content that will get you noticed but are not sure where to start, or don’t have the time to write it yourself, contact Zero-One Design today and ask about our Content Creation Services.
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