“When the Muezzins of Marketing howled “Put out content!” from their minarets I was puzzled.

I hate to be an old misery, but could this be inferior new wine in old bottles?

I was puzzled when Content Mania set in.

Not because yet another magic panacea for marketing problems was here. They are as regular as number 8 buses.

All say the same thing. “No need to think. It’s hard. Do this.”

Ever since I came into advertising before the dawn of time there have been these new words for old things.

But content was different. It was just a new name for what everyone has done since communication began.

Words and pictures. Maybe the odd graph or chart. More recently with sound and pictures that move.

In other words, content.

You can’t communicate without it.

It sounds bizarre – the idea that content is a new discovery.

That content matters, when of course it always has. But then every year new people come into marketing. So you can sell them old things, maybe with new labels.

And of course a staggering number of marketers have never studied their trade very much if at all.

As the Fournaise Group concluded in one of their reports ”Every Tom, Dick and Harry is a marketer”.

Then I read something weird.

Content has been propagandized by The Content Marketing Institute.

A smart idea, I thought when I saw their name.

if you want instant credibility, just start an institute. I did it almost 50 years ago when I founded the Institute of Small Business.

But then they lost their cred with me.

Because they said, “send lots of helpful stuff, but don’t sell”. Uh? What? My mercantile mind was horrified.

You get people interested. They read – or look or watch or listen – to the end. But you don’t sell.

Was this a variation of what came up in the ‘50’s after hard sell – which was soft sell?

Getting people to read and not asking them to act seemed crazy. Like catching the train to Edinburgh and getting off at the stop before you get there

It sounds bizarre – the idea that content is a new discovery.

That good content matters, when of course it always has.

But shouldn’t you ask for a sale? Or at the very least a response?

What did the masters say?

“The only purpose of advertising is to sell” said David Ogilvy’s mentor, Raymond Rubicam. “It has no other function worth mentioning”

“When people have read your copy they want to know what to do. Tell them” said the father of testing, John Caples.

I have found that not only does asking for a sale pay – the more often I ask the better I do. Asking for a sake early in the message – known as a trial close – picks off the hot prospects. And most businesses have some of those.

How come I managed to do well for 50 odd years? Was I doing it wrong?

What do you think, dear readers?

Am I full of it? Is the Content Institute right? Or are they full of hot air and fancy theory?

I wonder if they’ve run tests. I bet they haven’t.

Have YOU ever tested asking for a sale versus just sending out helpful stuff? Do you know anyone who has?

I seriously doubt it.But if you know someone who has, tell me.

Does this make sense – or at least make you think?

I’m old, but never too old to learn.

How about you?

If you found this interesting go and have a look at AskDrayton.com.

Do it now. This very minute.

It answers many of the questions I bet you ask yourself if you want to succeed.

And if you don’t know the answers, but your competitor does, my goodness it can cost you dear.

About the Author


In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing.

He has worked in 55 countries with many of the world’s greatest brands. These include American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Columbia Business School, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Visa and Volkswagen.

Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.

He was a main board member of the Ogilvy Group, a founding member of the Superbrands Organisation, one of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing and one of the first three people named to the Hall of Fame of the Direct Marketing Association of India. He has also been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida.

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