realtionship vs leads

I heard this debate this morning whilst listening to the amazing Marketing Companion podcast and wanted to venture further into this debate with you guys.

What is the role of content marketing today is it to develop relationships or leads or even both?

The purest in me screams relationships wins hands down, however the businessman in me wants to say leads and even sales.

There is also a time element to this question in that if your company is creating lots of leads and sales already and commercially is a well oiled machine that attracts, converts and delights its customers then using a content marketing strategy to develop relationships makes the most sense. This is a long term strategy that will nurture the best relationships into zealots and advocates. It will pay off the most in the long run but you have the time existing sales and lead generation in place to enable you to do this.

If however you are a business that requires leads and sales like yesterday then the idea of spending time and money on relationships may seem fluffy and what the business needs is leads and sales. Now there are 2 schools of thought maybe content marketing alone is not he answer if you are pressed for time and a marketing mix of paid media and direct marketing alongside your content marketing efforts would be wise. This is providing you have the money of course. Content marketing can and does create leads and sales though, it just takes a little more patience and grind in terms of creating amazing content that your prospects love.

Look at someone like LeadPages who give away entire courses for free for digital marketers. The content is easily worth hundreds of pounds and there are many people who have courses that are not as good yet charge good money for them. This content takes time to create and there is some serious investment. It is so good people would pay for it and that is when content marketing really pays off. By giving this content away for free in exchange for your email address and permission to market to you they generate thousands of leads and ultimately customers.

So where do I sit in the Relationship vs Leads debate? I think the answer is like a lot of marketing answers in that it depends on your personal situation. I do however firmly believe that relationships are at the heart of it and understanding that not everyone is ready to buy today or tomorrow. But by educating, adding value and truly inspiring your audience with content that helps them move closer their goals you are building a much greater asset.

Customers may come and go, but by giving away your best content and listening to your audience you create a network or friends and fans that go with you wherever you go and whatever you do. Content marketing done in a way that is short term and focused only on acquiring any customer or transaction at all may meet your sales target for one month but is unlikely to create that key connection that refers you time and time again.

What do you think? I am sitting on the fence a bit here and maybe need pushing one way or another?