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When does an article become a sales pitch?

Discussion in 'Off Topic & Everything Else' started by Jeff Kershner, Feb 3, 2014.

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  1. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner
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    I'm curious, what's the breaking point where an article written by an industry vendor representative becomes a sales pitch?


    Let's face it, 90% of the articles published across many of our industry news outlets and forums are written by professionals (term used loosely) from the vendor side.


    If you've been a part of this community or reading DealerRefresh (blog) for any length of time, you know we never set out to publish an article on the blog that includes a sales pitch, of any degree.


    Even with our strict approach, there are times an article is published by one of our vendor contributors where someone is quick to comment how they feel as if it's a "sales pitch"...


    This happened with the latest article written by John Colman from Authntk, but yet...


    No where in the article does John pitch Authntk.
    No where in the article does John mention Authntk.
    No where in the article does John link to Authntk / Walkaround Video.


    John merely points out some great information and highlights 3 recored sessions by clients that are doing it right. If industry professionals on the vendor side were shunned from writing info-articles (not a sales pitch) then we would guess we would see about an 80-90% decline in info-articles across all the media channels in our industry.


    So I ask you - what's the breaking point where an article written by an industry vendor representative becomes a sales pitch?


    *Feel free to use Johns article as a baseline.
     
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  3. cmjerry4531

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    I think it really depends on the nature of the article. If you are creating a list of the "Top 5 Video Walk Around Products," then I'd hope that the author would include his/her own product. I also think that the author should include a reference to his/her own company in the signature. I want to know who wrote it, and what they do.

    If it is a how to guide, or some article that is giving tips, then you should try keep your company out of it. The only exception would be in cases where you are offering proof. You need to mention names in order to bring Social Proof into the discussion. Who cars if Company Y helped company B by doing this? However, you'd pay more attention if someone said Authntk helped Lithia/Autonation/Large Dealer Group improve conversion by 20% by doing something.

    The other exception would be if you are citing sources from your own extensive research. Autotrader and Cars.com have plenty of resources that they could link themselves to, and DealerOn is starting to build its own collection of case studies. While I don't think you should link it with something like "Authntk's Awesome Case Study," I believe that linking to it with an "as seen here" would be perfectly acceptable.
     
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  4. yagoparamo

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    Jef,

    From my POV the line between sales pitch and knowledge base is not only very thin but also not a negative one.

    It seems that we live in an industry where talking about what you do and explaining it is a taboo while on the other hand I explain what I do to countless people from other industries at parties that have no interest whatsoever in the car industry. Note: Women run away really fast from you once you explain what we do.

    I have been at many classes and seminars where industry leaders talk about the "free" gimmicks you can do to improve your dealership when what I know is how much it cost to move the needle. Tell me how much and where you spent the money to sell the 800 cars! Secondly you can hear speeches about great strategies that in part depend on unique systems the vendor has developed and it is frustrating when we get back to the dealership and we just can't duplicate the implementation. We needed to be told that a certain set of tools are needed to get this done.

    My hope going to classes was to learn the top strategies, true implementation, cost, and time frame. An industry leader can (most of the time) only do this with the sets of tools that he/she have either developed or used.

    Pitching is not bad when it comes from the knowledge of doing it, pitching is bad when it comes from learning a power point the company put together for a presenter.
     
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  5. joeyabna

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    In my opinion there are no hard and fast rules on when an article becomes a sales pitch. Unless of course you start the article with a pitch, fill the body with more pitch and put the closing pitch in the end.

    I've heard more than one speaker/trainer talk about how relationships are like savings accounts. You make regular deposits building up the account and when needed you can make a withdrawal when you need to. A publishers content works in much the same way. If a publisher puts out regular content of value that I feel I can trust they earn some credit with me. In other words they have earned the right to tell me about their product where relevant. As long as the "savings account" stays solvent the publisher gets a bit more leeway.

    A drawback to this scenario comes into play for new readers that do not have a relationship with the publisher. A person with a "savings account" with a publisher and a first or short time reader can have completely different reactions to the same content.

    By the way, I think the same scenarios play out in forum posts.
     
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  6. ddavis

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    The fact that DealerRefresh discourages self promotion sets it apart from most of the other websites. Most participants (I purposely avoided contributors) are vendors that spend most of their time ingratiating (another term came to mind but it wouldn't be appropriate in mixed company) each other. It is amazing how much snake oil is being offered and the testimony to it's usefulness.
     
    #5 ddavis, Feb 4, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014
  7. ryan.leslie

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    When does an article become a sales pitch?
    When it is posted on any forum but DealerRefresh of course ;)

    Kidding, mostly. Some of the other forums do disintegrate into Vendor pitchapalooza on occasion. I'd have a hard time believing that those advertorials are effective. You'd think the overt salespitch would turn dealers away.

    I really like Joey's analogy of a savings account. You get back what you put in to most relationships, why should this one be any different?

    I don't write as often as I used to, but I think the simple answer to the question is that the author knows if they are trying to thinly veil a product pitch or trying to offer content that engages and betters the community with no expectation of a sale. What drives the decision is whether they feel a part of the community or apart from the community. Seth Godin wrote a brilliant piece on the topic that demands a read.

    Seth's Blog: Us vs. us

    Last thought: Thanks to Jeff, Alex, Joe and Ed Brooks for doing a tremendous job of weeding out those that show up just "to pee in the pool."
     
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  8. Eley Duke

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    I agree! But that doesn't seem to stop some.

    Maybe Jeff needs some formula to turn a profile green if someone is caught peeing in the pool!
     
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  9. umer.autojini

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    Jeff, why not simply post the videos to You Tube. The thing is lets say I'm doing an article... on websites / conversion etc... and shots/screens are all watermarked with my vendor name... one may take it as I'm pitching my product. The Article is great.. posting the videos to YUT and using YUT may resolve any impression of it being "pitched"
     
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  10. Jeff Kershner

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    I think that's great advice Umer. It would help reduce the chances of something yelling sales pitch.

    However, with this example (since I have some working knowledge of the product), one of the features / principles behind Authntk is to keep the consumer on the dealers own branded real-estate rather a video site like YouTube where the consumer can loose their spot and start clicking on other "like" videos. Have you ever fallen into the darkside of YT by complete accident? An hour later you wonder how the hell you just wasted over an hour watching worthless videos. :)

    I uderstand I went a bit granular with my response, and by all means I don't mean to overshadow your general advice on where one could be more careful around taking advantage of small branding opportunities that isn't needed.
     
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  11. Daniel J. Mondello

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    Do any of you remember when you used to be able to type in something "Google it" and get back unbias, non-sales pitch content?
    SEM and SEO although heavily responsible for my pay check have in truth diminished the online information gathering use of the internet to some extent.
     
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