Is there such a thing as a content-negative strategy?

During tonight’s Content Strategy New England Meetup, for which Joe Pulizzi shared his thoughts on the interconnectedness of content strategy, content marketing, inbound marketing, and everything in between, there was an interesting question from the audience: what if you’re working with someone who wants to have an online presence but has neither the inclination nor the budget to create content? What’s the strategy then?

Joe took the approach that we should communicate the importance of content generation, pointing to the merits of a freelance writer to ghost-write blog posts, or at the very least, write some good copy for the client to approve and obtain good messaging.

I see the value of that approach, but I was struck by the example: the tradesman type, like a plumber or carpenter, who is out on the job most of the day and probably doesn’t give a damn about writing or budgeting for a steady supply of freelance copy. He just wants good exposure, new leads, and steady work.

I wonder if the best content strategy is one that is “content-negative” — a simple Web design that clearly explains the services offered and how to get in touch, and that’s it. To address content marketing, I might suggest the inclusion of select feeds from sources that fit into his existing flow.

This might mean tweeting from the job, but only if the client is already accustomed to communicating via text. It could mean soliciting Yelp reviews via a mention on his business cards or invoices, or whatever materials the business already distributes. It might mean setting up a comment board on which he can quickly approve or deny messages, taking up no more than a half hour, once a week.

Either I’m crazy or I’m stating the obvious: Content marketing is as much about the behavior of the business as it is utilizing the latest best practices, and only the right balance of the two will make for a manageable result. In some cases, that might mean going “content-negative,” or nearly so.

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