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What Is B2C Marketing?

Business-to-consumer marketing, or B2C marketing, is a term used in the business world to describe the tactics and strategies a company uses to promote products and services to individual people. Think healthcare, health and beauty products and tourism. Both brick-and-mortar and online retailers can have B2C target audiences. 

Similarities and Differences Between B2B and B2C Marketing

While there are similarities to B2B marketing, B2C marketing is its own discipline. That’s because consumers have different needs and expectations than people who make purchases for their employers. For instance, consumers often want to act quickly on a purchase and they tend to not research to the extent that someone would when representing a company’s interests. This means B2C marketers don’t have as much opportunity to influence consumer behavior. Depending on the product, the sales cycle may be shorter, with fewer touchpoints and it can be more challenging to get the timing right.

B2C Campaigns Evoke Emotion to Sell Products

With this reality in mind, successful B2C campaigns typically evoke emotional responses, while the B2B model speaks to logic and reasoning. Grasping these differences and implementing changes to your B2C marketing strategy can help you lead with the right message at the right time.

Simple B2C Marketing Funnel

That said, B2C marketing success begins with a simple marketing funnel that helps you connect with consumers strategically. For instance, you might:

  • Introduce the prospect to your company
  • Encourage them to engage and interact with you
  • Guide the potential customer towards a purchase that fits their needs

For more information on marketing funnels, see:



Content Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

Content Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing: Navigating the Modern Marketing Landscape

Content marketing vs. traditional marketing is the most recent debate in the evolving marketing landscape. Some argue that content marketing is merely a tactical channel rather than a strategy. In contrast, traditional marketing, with its emphasis on the four Ps of marketing (product, price, place, and promotion) as the fulcrum of lead generation and sales, is the only valuable marketing approach. The truth is that either approach can be effective if chosen wisely. Here, we dive into content marketing vs. traditional marketing, and why a modern marketing plan may include both rather than focus solely on one.

Content Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing: Understanding Traditional Marketing

Technically, the definition of traditional marketing is marketing offline – that is, non-digital media. Think direct mail, print advertising, television, or radio commercials. It’s the kind of marketing that’s been around for decades since the first business published a newspaper ‘advertisement’ touting hair tonic, ladies’ dresses, or the latest shows or entertainment. Even as far back as ancient Rome, people used advertising – for example, bread preserved in the volcanic ash in Pompeii displays a maker’s mark on the top. It was a form of advertising used by bread makers to distinguish their product from another’s bread, similar to how we might use a wrapper or label on products today.

The Evolution of Web Marketing

Because I am as old as dirt (well, not that old), I remember the early days of internet marketing. Just as the first automobiles were called ‘horseless carriages’ because the carriage was all people understood as a conveyance, marketers transformed print ads into digital formats. Behold: the banner ad.

The banner ad appeared in the early days of the internet, like a print advertisement in a magazine. Static, except for this incredible thing we called click-through. You could click it and be taken directly to the product page. Wow!

You are probably laughing at this mental picture, but I assure you, back in the late 1990s, it was the 'right' way to advertise. Of course, we still have some static ads – my blog, Home Garden Joy, displays two in the sidebar for affiliate programs we belong to. I do this for a simple reason: I am very choosy about my advertisers, and so are my readers. I was unhappy with the quality and quantity of ads displayed by Google's algorithm technology, so I switched to tightly controlled advertising. It works for me, and my readers seem to appreciate it.

Evolution of Digital Marketing

That brings me to my next point. The evolution of traditional marketing into digital marketing is more complex than one might assume. The two areas overlap. Like content marketing vs. traditional marketing, digital vs. traditional marketing is a false dichotomy. There's no need to choose between them. Instead, finding the right blend of online and offline advertising and incorporating successful content marketing strategies and tactics into the overall marketing plan may be the best way for your company to obtain leads and sales.

The Right Marketing Approach Depends on Target Audience

Choosing the right marketing approach, whether it’s traditional marketing, digital marketing, content marketing, or a combination of all three, depends on one thing: your audience.

Advertise Where Your Audience Is

You must fish where the fish are biting. This means you must market to your target customers in ways that appeal to them and in places where they are spending time. Depending on your target audience, this may mean:

  • Print advertisements in magazines or newspapers
  • Radio commercials on traditional local radio, national radio, or digital broadcasts
  • Google advertising or other search advertising
  • Social media advertising
  • Direct mail
  • Outbound calling (“cold calling”)
  • Events and conferences (attending, presenting, a trade show booth or sponsorship)
  • Sponsoring the local sports team
  • Billboard ads
  • Become part of a trade organization (chamber of commerce, etc.)
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Content marketing, including case studies, white papers, videos, and more
  • Coupons, sales, and rebate programs

I’m sure I have forgotten traditional, digital, or content marketing methods, but the point is that the list above is not a ‘one size fits all’ list.

The Best Marketing Plan Is Created Just for Your Business

The best marketing plan is one that suits your business. It is a plan created by researching the product, its place in the market, and its competitors. It is a plan that draws from market research into what your customers – not your competitors, not anyone else's, but YOUR customers – want and need from the product or service. A good marketing plan charts a roadmap to position your company among a sea of competitors so that it stands out and helps develop recognition, awareness, leads, and sales.

Content Marketing vs Traditional Marketing: Let Common Sense Be Your Guide

So, regarding content marketing vs. traditional marketing, here are the similarities and differences.

Content Marketing:

  • Focuses on awareness, education, and sharing information to empower customers
  • Does not overtly ‘sell’ with a call to action
  • Provides useful, desirable information
  • Meets the consumer need at the point of interest

In sum:

  • Educates customers on how to use products or services
  • Provides increasingly detailed information to bring customers to the point of sale
  • Highly targeted to specific customer groups called "personas."


Traditional Marketing

  • Focuses on generating awareness and a desire to own a product
  • Does “sell” or calls to action: buy, call, click, etc.
  • Motivates through emotional appeal
  • Promotes to a mass market or large targeted market to generate interest

In sum:

  • Generates interest to generate leads and sales
  • Appeals to emotions (keep up with the Jones, look better, feel better)
  • Often mass market or to a large audience, but can also be targeted

Content Marketing vs Traditional Marketing: We’re All About Content Marketing

At Seven Oaks Consulting, we have over 20 years of experience in all aspects of marketing: content marketing, traditional marketing, and digital marketing. We specialize in business-to-business content marketing and can provide this service to your company. If you feel content marketing is a helpful adjunct to your marketing program, call us, and let's discuss your ideas. We're honest. If we think we can help you, we'll tell you. And, if we believe content marketing isn't helpful, we'll let you know that, too.

Also Read...


Content Marketing vs SEO - Which Is Better for Marketing?

Content marketing and SEO are digital marketing strategies that guarantee optimal online visibility, engagement, and overall success for any B2B company. However, some content marketers and B2B companies are confused about the similarities and differences between the two strategies and which to devote the most effort to.

Three key questions remain:

  • Is one of these strategies superior to the other, or do they function better when integrated?
  • Should B2B companies focus on one or leverage both for overall company success?
  • What’s the best way to approach SEO and Content marketing?

Understanding the distinct attributes of each strategy and the potential synergistic power of both remains the only way to determine the answers to these questions.

Content marketing and SEO complement each other, and research has shown they work best when integrated. B2B companies that resolve how to complement both strategies make the most of their powerful synergy and stay ahead.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing involves creating and distributing valuable content in the form of blogs, videos, eBooks, and podcasts to educate or inform an audience. Companies leverage it to educate and inform their audience about their products and services, helping them understand how the company stands out from their competitors.

By consistently publishing and distributing valuable industry information, B2B companies present themselves as reliable go-to resources for industry thought leadership information. This helps the company build trust and authority, enabling them to convert their prospects easily.

To excel with content marketing, you need an efficient content marketing strategy that includes plans for audience research, content planning, creation, distribution, analytics, and others.

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to the strategies and techniques used to improve a website and its pages to rank at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs). Ranking high on SERPs increases a website’s visibility, as research has shown that most people don’t go beyond the first page of a search engine when seeking information.

The increased visibility generates more traffic, increasing the website’s leads and conversion rate. The primary aim of SEO is to increase the quality and quantity of traffic to a website from search engines.

Companies adopt SEO to increase their company's, product's, or service's awareness, improving their revenue generation chances.

To execute SEO successfully, you must have a robust SEO strategy that includes plans for keyword research, link building, competitive analysis,on-page optimization, off-page optimization, and technical SEO, amongst others.

Difference between Content Marketing and SEO

While content marketing and SEO are similar or complementary, they have differences in their goals, scope, and the role search engines play.

The Goals of Content Marketing and SEO

Content marketing aims to build brand awareness, establish industry authority, and build solid and beneficial relationships across all marketing channels with potential customers. To achieve this goal, companies create relevant and educational content that resonates with their target audience, depending on the marketing channel.

However, SEO aims to increase a website’s visibility and rankings on search engines, enabling it to attract high-quality leads. Companies achieve this goal by optimizing various elements, such as website load speed, meta, and title tags, HTTP status codes, mobile friendliness, backlink structure, etc.

SEO significantly increases the chances of success on one vital content marketing channel – search engine marketing.

The Scope of Content Marketing and SEO

Another difference between content marketing and SEO is their scope. Content marketing focuses more on content creation in various formats and distribution through multiple channels, such as social media, blogs, search engines, emails, etc.

On the other hand, SEO involves all technical, on-page, and off-page activities in helping a website achieve the most content distribution and visibility on search engines.

Role of Search Engines in Content Marketing and SEO

This is a more subtle difference between content marketing and SEO. Content marketing emphasizes creating high-quality, relevant content that addresses the target audience's needs, preferences, and pain points. When content marketing involves website content, the content might help the website rank on search engines.

However, SEO is more direct in helping websites rank on search engines. It focuses on the website’s technical sides, content structure, and other on-page and off-page elements like keyword research and integration, quality backlink building, user experience, etc. All these help search engine algorithms understand a website’s relevance and rank it at the top of SERPs for those searching for related information.

Content Marketing and SEO: How They Complement Each Other

Content marketing vs. SEO shouldn't be the question. The better question should be how can both work together for optimal results. SEO and content marketing complement each other, from keyword optimization to brand and product visibility, user experience, and link building.

Keyword Optimization

Keyword optimization is one of the most vital ways SEO helps actualize content marketing goals. When users seek information on search engines, they do so with keywords. Identifying and optimizing for these keywords is only possible through extensive keyword research, an SEO activity.

To rank high and generate traffic from search engines where prospects actively use these keywords, companies create relevant content that addresses prospects’ needs and pain points and integrate these keywords naturally into them.

Improved Visibility and Brand Awareness

Content marketing and SEO work hand in hand to improve a company’s website’s visibility on search engines, creating awareness for its products and services. SEO is used in content marketing to help search engines identify and index well-written content that addresses customer needs.

The more readers find the content useful, the more search engines will help push it to a larger audience. Content marketing efforts are more fruitful when the content reaches a broader audience, and SEO helps achieve this by pushing the content higher in search rankings.

Quality and User Experience

Content marketing and SEO also work together to improve content quality and user experience.

By conducting extensive keyword research and SERP audits, companies gain more insight into their target audience’s expectations. They can then create content that addresses those expectations.

The quality of a piece of content depends a lot on how relevant it is to the readers. And the more relevant the content is, the better the user experience.

Engaging, informative content improves a website’s search engine rankings. It keeps readers hooked on your website longer. And the more people stay on your website, the greater the odds they'll contact you.

Increased Link-Building Opportunities

Great, informative, and exhaustive content attracts backlinks from other websites. The more backlinks content receives, especially from authoritative sources, the more search engines recognize the content and website as relevant and trustworthy. And this makes the search engine algorithms push the content higher up on the SERPs.

Great content and SEO marketing strategies lead to more organic link-building opportunities. In turn, this increase a website’s ranking, visibility, traffic generation, and ultimately lead generation and conversion.

Integrate Your Content Marketing and SEO Strategies and Achieve Optimal Results

Undoubtedly, optimal online marketing results come with integrating SEO and content marketing strategy. An extensive content marketing strategy without a complementing SEO strategy is ineffective. You can miss out on many organic leads and leave a lot of money on the table. Similarly, a robust SEO strategy without solid content marketing backing it up is almost futile.

The ideal approach is to develop a complementary SEO content marketing strategy that includes content marketing and SEO plans. Smart B2B companies integrate both strategies to give their brand, products, and services much-needed organic visibility, ultimately increasing revenue-generating opportunities.


a desk with flowers, tape, notebooks and office supplies

Content Strategy Tips - Owned vs Rented Land

On our brand new YouTube Channel, Jeanne shares her thoughts on Joe Pulizzi's famous quote, "Don't build your content house on rented land" - as well as why you should actually have a strategy for sharing content on 'rented land'.

What Is "Owned" and "Rented" Land in Content Marketing?

In content marketing, we talk about owned vs. rented digital land. This is an analogy to building a house. When you build a house, you must own the land you build it on - or else the owner of the land can kick you out of the house at any time.


If you build your digital version of a house, that central place where you direct your customers, clients, and readers to, on a website you neither own nor control, you are at risk of the site owner cutting off access at any time - the digital version of a landowner kicking you out of the rented land!


I've seen this a lot with small business owners who build their 'house' or digital business presence on a Facebook page. They even go so far as to put the page URL on their signage or business cards. That's not bad, per se, but using only Facebook as your online presence is very dangerous. Facebook can at any time cut off your access to the page, shut your page down, or decide to charge high fees. If you build your online or digital presence on a website that you own or control, you're assured it will be there as long as you want it to be there.

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Marketing Agency Vanity Awards

(And Actual Awards You Can Win)

I had no idea that marketing agency vanity awards existed until this year when I almost fell prey to an award scam. They're out there - beware.

Since responding to the first group, I've been targeted by two others. Here is my story. Don't fall prey to the marketing agency vanity award scam!

Note: This is a true story. I have redacted the name of the "conference" and the dates, along with individuals names, but the facts are accurate.


At the end of this article, I include a link to download a free copy of an ebook we published with legitimate marketing awards and conferences you can enter. I hope you download it.


The Marketing Agency Award That Isn’t 

My scam radar is pretty good. I’ve got that cynical edge that looks at every opportunity from two lenses: what’s in it for me and what are you trying to get from me. So, when the following in-mail appeared in my LinkedIn account, my scam radar was on high.


“Hey Jeanne, I'm glad to inform you that you have been shortlisted for the 'Outstanding Leadership Award', set to be conferred at the [Redacted] Conference in (City and date redacted) 2022).”  The note included a link to a video of a past conference. 


I fired back a response:


“Seriously? Where is this listed? And can I promote this? Quite a lovely surprise.”


And then…crickets. Nothing. Days passed, and the woman who had contacted me never responded.


Now, if you were hosting an awards competition, and you’ve just notified the winner, and they responded like this, wouldn’t you respond quickly? I would think so. My scam radar was on high once again. 


However, the LinkedIn profile of the woman who had contacted me checked out. She was indeed affiliated with the conference mentioned and received excellent LinkedIn recommendations  from previous companies who had hired her to coordinate conferences and events. I assumed she was on the conference marketing team and had been hired to reach out to people to get them to attend the conference. How, or why, the conference organizers thought I was nominated for a Marketing Leadership award was beyond me, so I wanted to know more.


I cautiously made an appointment to speak with the woman who had contacted me. She let me know that a colleague from the nominations committee would join the video call. Fair enough. 


“Thanks for booking the calendar for Monday.


Also, apologies for the delay in response as I was not active here due to some reasons.


You have been invited to participate in the nomination process for the "Outstanding Leadership Award" by our research team on the basis of 5 below-mentioned criteria: 1. Leader’s Reputation 2. Educational Background 3. Professional Experience 4. Creative Thinking 5. Decisive Leadership

We have a procedure which we follow for selecting our awardees, for that we have an application form.”


However, she still hadn’t answered some of my questions  about how my name had come up, who had nominated me, etc. 


“Meanwhile, please refer to the deck attached.”


The attached deck was nothing more than a glossy promotional piece, mostly filled with images from their previous event, which looked good but could easily be stock images of a conference. Who knows? 


Remember, I’m from New York City.  Home of street cons and a thousand get rich quick schemes. 

I decided to attend the video call to see what this was all about. 


The Committee Meeting and the Sales Pitch


We met on July 11. The half-hour video conference was bizarre. I immediately told the two people from the conference award committee that I needed to know this was not a scam. I must have asked a dozen times if this was a sales pitch. They assured me that it was not – that it was a genuine award. 


They then proceeded to weave a compelling sales pitch, alternately hyping the award and the resulting promotion for a small marketing agency like mine and the potential for reaching hundreds of other marketing leaders by accepting the award at their conference and paying the additional fees for their marketing package, which include press releases, badges, and the ability to conduct a session at the conference.


The catch? I was expected, as an award winner, to pay $2,000 for my conference ticket. I would also have to pay for my own airfare and hotel. 


The conference dates backed right into Christmas. I was already reluctant to commit, given how close these dates are to both Christmas and a close family member’s birthday. The thought of missing both events due to canceled  flights or weather delays, both real possibilities at that time of year, troubled me. Additionally, as I mentioned to the committee, I wasn’t keen on attending in-person events due to the potential for COVID. They said it wasn’t an option; I must attend in person to receive the award.


But how, I asked, had they found me in the first place? Who had nominated me?


After much discussion, they admitted that a “computer algorithm” had selected my profile as a nominee for the “marketing leadership award” based on “criteria outlined” in their deck, which they could only cite but not explain. 


Throughout the call, the pair stressed “mandatory attendance” at the conference in order to ‘receive the award.’ 


I’ve won several marketing awards, including the New York University Award of Excellence and the Lester Wunderman Award for direct marketing excellence, and in both cases, if I wasn’t able to attend the award ceremony, no one threatened to take back the award.


Both previous awards also came with prizes. The award committees didn’t ask me to pay for my promotions; they promoted the event themselves, only asking for my permission to use my photograph and name in their publicity, which I gave them. 


In the case of this award, however, the committee stressed that purchasing a $2,000 ticket to the conference was mandatory to receive the award. I balked at the price. I pushed back on the other expenses: airfare and hotel fees. They said they would give me the ticket for $1,500 and reduce the hotel fee to $65 per night. I began to feel a surreal sense that I was haggling over the price of a flea market find.


Again and again, the duo stressed that attendance at the event was mandatory to receive the award. If I wanted to publicize my award, I’d have to fork over more money for a press release, “award badges” to put on my social media profile, and other fees to leverage the award.


Still skeptical, I heard out their pitch to the end. The call ended with them urging me to pay a $50 entry fee and complete an application. It wasn’t much money to see what would happen next, so I completed the application, paid my fee, and shrugged. It was a long shot anyway since the pair assured me that from 1,000 shortlisted names, only 500 would make it to the nomination round, with 60 in the final round for the single award. 

After filling out the application, I dug deeper into the conference through my old friend Google Search, but still couldn’t turn up any dirt. I could find no evidence online that either the two people I met with were scammers or that the conference was anything but a legitimate professional development event. The only catch was the odd emphasis on me, the award winner, paying the fees to attend, speak, and promote my award. The hard emphasis on conference attendance was also still nagging at me as a catch that seemed out of sync with an actual award, but I couldn’t see how it was either illegal or a scam, just an oddity that I disliked.

You’ve Won a Major Award!

(Is it "frageeli"? Bonus points if you get the Christmas Story reference)

In less than one week from meeting with the pair and completing my application form, the following appeared in my email in-box on July 19. 


“Hey Jeanne Grunert,

Hope this email finds you in the best of health and spirit.

The [Marketing Conference Name]  primarily comprises achievers from the industry whom we recognize for their contributions while providing a platform for networking and knowledge sharing amongst this elite group of high-performing individuals and companies. 

We received a lot of incredible applications this year and choosing the Honorees for the category "Outstanding Leadership Award" was a very tough job for our Assessment Committee (chair and management). All nominees were adjudged on 5 parameters, namely:

  1. Leader's Reputation
  2. Educational Background
  3. Professional Experience
  4. Creative Thinking
  5. Decisive Leadership


After careful consideration and research, our Assessment Committee (chair and management) rated each applicant on every criterion to reach the final list of honorees.

We are happy to let you know that you have been selected for the Outstanding Leadership Award recognition, to be conferred at the [Name Redacted for this article] in [Name redacted for this article]. Please find attached with this email your Assessment Report for your perusal.

Please pick a convenient date and time using the following calendar link, for our team to get in touch with you and confirm your participation at the event.

We congratulate you on your wonderful achievement and look forward to seeing you at the event! 

Best Wishes,
Assessment Committee”


Whoa! How did go from one of 1,000 shortlisted nominees on July 7 to the winner by July 19?


It made absolutely no sense. Why did I have to meet with them to “confirm my attendance”? Why the rush to confirm my attendance for a conference occurring five months in the future?


The “Assessment Report”


The so-called “report” attached to the email also made no sense and read like a form letter. The criteria listed each had a ranking factor next to it and a brief paragraph about my so-called skills in the respective area. 


But what had the committee looked at to rank each factor? I checked with the three people I had listed on my references to see if the committee had contacted them , and not a single person had been contacted.


The ranking factors included things that could only be determined and evaluated by looking at my agency’s actual client work: marketing plans, content marketing campaigns, and results achieved. But this information is not available outside of my agency.  Only I could submit this information to them, as is typical of marketing awards where the participants must submit campaign examples and results as part of the application process. But I hadn’t submitted anything.


Now I was seriously concerned. What was this award? Why did the entire approach feel like a scam but the conference seem like a legitimate event?


I tried calling the previous award winner to ask her about her experience with the conference. I found her name in press releases mentioning the award and found her company online, where she had shared another press release citing this conference and the award. I left a voice mail saying I received notification that I’d won the upcoming award and wanted to hear about her experiences with the conference and award. 


She never returned my call.


More suspicious than ever, I returned to searching online. Something was seriously wrong with this picture, with pressure mounting from the nomination committee to confirm my attendance at the event. I didn’t return their emails or LinkedIn messages.


Marketing Agency Vanity Awards


It took me a while to uncover two articles online – just two – explaining why I felt this was a scam of some sort. While not technically a scam, the award process itself is fraught with problems, and provides a meaningless vanity award to the winner while ensuring the conference has attendees eager to be there.


In his article The Agency Award Scam and How It Works, Jason Yormark explains how other conferences and industry magazines prey upon small marketing agency owners’ natural desire to grow their agencies through publicity. 


While not an outright scam (agencies are certainly receiving something for the money they pay) the award itself is based on useless, made up criteria. 


Yormark delineates a process that is the mirror image of the process the “nominations committee” used to solicit my response. He ends his article by wondering why no one is unmasking these awards for what they are. I know why. 


People like me who almost fall for them, or who do fall for them, are too embarrassed to admit it. I’m not. I want you to know this, and I want every marketing agency owner to know this so they don’t waste their time on bogus awards. 


The growing realization that I almost fell victim to a vanity award made me very angry. What made me angrier, however, is the fact that very few people online were calling out these companies for the shady business practices they employ.


The Conference Is Legitimate – But the Award Is Meaningless


Is it a scam? Is the conference real?


The conference people I spoke with did indeed offer me an award with the condition that receiving the award was dependent upon attending the conference. That isn’t illegal, as far as I can tell. Any award committee can set whatever criteria they want upon an award. It’s their award. And the conference itself appears to be a genuine professional development event, a typical marketing conference with speaker sessions, workshops, and so on.


However, the value of the award itself, the nomination process, the evaluation process, and the “pay to play” mentality surely puts this award and others of its kind into a gray area that taints it.

I never returned the committee’s more urgent messages, choosing instead to wait to see what would unfold. 


I’m Shortlisted – Again! 

Then – surprise! – on July 27, I was contacted via email by someone claiming to be from “The Advertising And Marketing Forum” with a Virginia address stating that I was nominated for an award for Outstanding Marketing Leadership!


There was a disclaimer and a huge copyright notice at the end of the email, with no link to the disclaimer, no link to their website, and no more information about this magical award – just a demanding tone to make an appointment now or lose the award. No mention of where the magic award would be given, either. 


Not surprisingly, the pressure began just a day later. On July 28, the piece de resistance – an email from the same award conference that had contact me via LinkedIn but from a different person, following up on the July 27 email, to tell me I was shortlisted for the award.


  • July 7: Contacted on LinkedIn about being shortlisted for the Outstanding Leadership Award
  • July 11: Met with Award Committee, told I could apply for nomination. 
  • July 19: Received email with report saying I was the winner but must confirm my attendance at the event to receive the award.
  • July 27: Received another email sequence from a different person (but this time in the state of Virginia, where my agency is located) saying I was shortlisted for the Outstanding Leadership Award…for the same conference, the same award..
  • July 28:  Received a second email encouraging me to meet with them to continue the nomination process. 

It was, almost word for word, the same pitch.



“Hey Jeanne,

Greetings from [Conference Name redacted]!

I hope you are doing well. This is regarding your reply to my colleague Eliza about the upcoming conference.

The Winter Edition of our [Name Redacted] is taking place at [Name Redacted] on December X. We'll be hosting insightful panel discussions for marketing professionals and showcase some exciting innovations from exhibitors and speakers alike.

We are delighted to inform you that you have been shortlisted as a potential nominee for the 'Outstanding Leadership Award', I would be delighted to discuss further the opportunity if we can connect for a brief call at your convenience.”

Well, isn’t that special! It was, word for word, point for point, the exact same pitch and details as the person had sent me via LinkedIn, except this time it was via email.


Here's my response. This person never pestered me again.

“According to what was already sent to me by someone else, I've already won. So, which is it?”

Follow Up: September 2022


These people don't get the message. Through August, the original duo continued to demand a response from me and my payment to attend the conference. Additionally, despite numerous requests to be removed from their mailing list, they continued to email me.


Follow Up: October 2022


Since the original approach in July, I’ve now received two other approaches for various “awards”.


Here’s one example. They never stop.

Hi Jeanne,

Trust this mail finds you well.

We have an excellent opportunity we would like to share with you– a prestigious felicitation program (A “felicitation program” What is that?) is confirmed to be a part of our marketing event’s schedule (What marketing event? They never cite it by name) in the USA later this winter.

As we went through your portfolio (What portfolio? My marketing work is done under tight NDAs for clients and it never listed in a portfolio online)  we recommend that you show your earliest interest (What the heck is “show earliest interest"?) in the program as you have a high chance of getting an accolade (getting an accolade” - again what accolade, why, and from whom?) owing to your unparalleled contributions to the marketing sector.

If you think you might be interested in going forward (If it is a legitimate award, you win it - you don't have to "go forward" with anything. You are told you are the winner and if you accept, they give the award), let us know so we can schedule a call as soon as possible to discuss the opportunities this two-day marketing summit beholds for experts like you.

While on call (grammar mistake), our experts will also guide you through the application process step-by-step.

Let’s connect this week?


B (name redacted)

(and sent from a gmail address with no signature line - no organization, no conference listed, no name)


Legitimate Marketing Agency Awards

We've put together a free ebook of LEGITIMATE marketing awards you can win. Just sign up for our newsletter and you can download your very own copy. Plus, we'll throw in our free content marketing playbook, too.


smartphone with award guide, cup of coffee, and eyeglasses on a table

a white coffee cup next to a laptop

The Way We Think About Customer Relationships Is Broken

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) dates back to the 1980s when the business and marketing industries shifted their focus from being "product empathetic" to "customer empathetic." The technological age has made CRM more comprehensive by introducing data-driven, automated software systems, but are we taking the right approach? 

Understanding the pros and cons of using software-based CRM can help identify and fill the gaps in understanding consumer demands and strengthening customer relationships. 

The Pros of Software-based CRM 

Technology has proven to be an indispensable tool for improving customer relationships. Data is now considered the globe's most valuable resource as technology evolves. The aim of software-based CRM is to collect and analyze consumer-based data to gain better insight and implement better business practices. This approach has proven to be quite successful for businesses in various ways, including:

  • Streamlined communication and engagement with customers
  • Better knowledge of demographics and target-audiences 
  • Higher customer acquisition and retention 
  • Automation of essential, everyday tasks

Having access to real-time data allows companies to anticipate shifting trends in consumer demand, such as the increasing demand for socially-conscious and sustainable business practices. To meet your customers' needs and expectations, you first have to know what they are, both short-term and long-term.

The Cons of Software-based CRM  

As data mining becomes more pervasive, the sheer amount collected can be overwhelming and rendered useless from a customer relationship and marketing standpoint. It is essential to remember that effective customer relationship management is not only based on software and data-driven approaches.

Although data-driven software may be an integral aspect of modern-day CRM, much more is involved. When implementing a software-based strategy, it is vital to be aware of common pitfalls: 

  • Over collection of data leading to a lack of focus or a defined set of goals 
  • Break down in company leadership due to overreliance on software automation 
  • Loss of the "human element" when it comes to marketing and customer relations 
  • Overhead costs and the risk of working with the wrong vendor for your company 

As any futuristic, dystopian novel would tell us - it is critical never to lose touch with the human aspect of our existence. Automation is no match for critical analysis and human insight to meet customer needs and surpass expectations. 

A More Human Approach to Customer Relationships  

As with any useful tool, the key lies in understanding how and when to use software-based CRM effectively. Before implementing any business strategy, including customer relationship management, you need to have a clear and well-defined set of goals. To begin, ask yourself some basic questions: 

  • Who is your target audience, and what are their needs as consumers?
  • Where do you fit-in in the business sector, and what kind of impact do you wish to have? 
  • What is the best way to deliver your message and expand your customer base? 
  • How do you intend to ensure transparency and respond to customers' concerns? 

Numbers and statistics can be helpful tools for developing marketing strategies. Remember, data is merely a reflection of consumer trends, and human behavior is dictated by more than numbers on a spreadsheet. When it comes to customer relationships, you should take a more human-based approach than relying on software systems alone. 

MOre Free Marketing Resources

The Big Reason Why Marketing Campaigns Fail

What is the single biggest reason why marketing campaigns fail? There is no guaranteed equation for producing the most effective and longest-lasting results. Marketing campaigns are multi-faceted and require a high degree of effective collaboration from all marketing team members.

Creativity is another essential aspect - considering that no two marketing campaigns are the same. We will explore why lack of focus, which can lead to other problems, is often the single biggest reason marketing campaigns fail.  

a leaf against a blurry background with the word focus

The Need for a Well-defined Set of Goals

A lack of focus can result in a poorly developed marketing campaign. It can also lead to other problems in marketing strategies, such as poorly executed research and misinterpretation of data analytics. Here are some insights to determine if you are on the right track:    

  • Effective collaboration is key to crafting a successful marketing campaign, as with any team-based project. Although working with a team can help to foster creativity and generate new ideas, it can also lead to a lack of focus. Establishing a well-defined set of goals is critical to ensure that everyone is on the same page. 
  • Marketing campaigns help establish a brand image and raise consumer awareness. A vital aspect of establishing a brand image is to provide valuable information, not just eye-catching advertisements. The desire to produce immediate results may negatively impact the marketing campaign's effectiveness due to lack of substance.

The Importance of Continuity   

Once you have defined your goals and established your brand, it is important not to lose sight of your long-term marketing strategy - and this is where continuity comes in. Continuity helps establish trust with your target audience and stand out among competitors. 

Remember, the first step to any successful marketing campaign is to create a well-defined set of short-term and long-term goals. Some helpful questions to ask include:

  • How will your marketing campaign evolve based on your target audience and changing market trends?
  • What is your brand's message, and how can you keep it consistent as your marketing campaign adapts to consumer demands?

In a world often obsessed with the latest trending topics and hashtags of the day, don't underestimate the power of continuity. A strong, clear, and consistent message can help establish the foundation for a successful, long-term marketing campaign. 

flowers, papers, and laptop on a desk

Marketing Education Without a Degree

Nothing substitutes for a marketing education or a marketing degree. It’s invaluable, especially when seeking full-time employment as a marketing manager. 

However, I became a marketing manager without a formal marketing education. Here are the steps I took to learn to be a marketing professional without a marketing degree.

My Story - from Executive Assistant to Marketing Manager

I majored in English literature at Molloy College, a small Catholic college in New York state. My goal was to be a novelist. I wanted to write classic works of literature, including science fiction and fantasy. 

Yet I had to make a living. The occasional magazine stories I sold didn’t pay for much! I worked first as an advertising copywriter, then took a job as an Executive Assistant to the president of a nursery and landscaping company on Long Island’s North Shore.

His company included both a bustling garden center that catered to the rich, famous and wealthy, as well as a landscape design firm. It was one of the few large garden center businesses to have its own marketing manager, and I worked with her extensively. When she was let go in July 1995, the president asked me to take over the role since I wrote well and had worked alongside her.

It was my first marketing gig and I knew nothing! I messed up so many things it’s amazing I lasted the next two years. But last I did, and I ended up creating some fantastic advertising that one customer actually scrawled a message on and brought in to show his appreciation for the ad. I still have a copy of that ad.

Here's the famous ad in the New York Times - Sunny wrote Russ, the president, a note about how it made her want to come in, and dropped it off in the store.

After leaving the nursery in 1997, I went on to lead marketing for a financial services company and then for a series of education testing, professional development, and publishing companies before founding my own content marketing agency. Along the way, I did return to school, and completed a master of science in direct and digital marketing at New York University, earning not only a degree “with distinction”, the university’s highest honor, but also two national direct marketing awards.

5 Ways to Learn Marketing Without a Marketing Education

Here’s how I ensured my own marketing education despite starting in the profession without a marketing degree.

  1. Learn from a colleague.

One of the first things I did when working at the nursery was study what the current marketing manager was doing. I followed her original blueprint for my first year in my new role as marketing manager, using her example to maintain marketing continuity. At each job, I was able to observe either what the previous marketing manager had done by reviewing her plans or by working alongside a more seasoned marketer. You can learn a lot from your colleagues. Here at Seven Oaks Consulting, we feature an unusual model of taking on a lot of college students and recent graduates as part of our content team. It’s not that we prefer junior marketers on the team, but we love to help them grow. It’s paying the profession forward -- helping to build the stellar marketers we hope to see someday in the field. To do that, they need to learn from seasoned professionals as I was able to do so long ago.

  1. Read books by the experts.

In every field or endeavor, there are known experts. In content marketing, Joe Pulizzi comes to mind, along with Ann Handley. Both are true experts in content marketing. My former NYU professor of direct marketing finances, Heidi Cohen, is also known as a content marketing and digital marketing expert. Read their books and learn marketing from people who don’t just talk about it but actually do it!

  1. Keep up with the news.

Another way in which I learned the marketing profession as a junior marketing manager was to read industry news. I’d take along Direct Marketing News to read on the train during my commute or I’d read Advertising Age the Wall Street Journal. This continued my education by exposing me to current marketing trends and campaign examples.

  1. Attend conferences.

I learned so much at the old Direct Marketing Days New York and the New York City Direct Marketing Club meetings. The guest speakers, the trade show booths, the small group sessions....I’d leave with copious notes and ideas about what to incorporate into my own marketing plans. Some of the contacts I made at those trade shows remain good friends. If you can, attend marketing conferences live or online as much as possible.

  1. Ask a lot of questions.

Vendors want to share their knowledge with you. Ask questions of everyone! I went on press with my printing vendor to learn more about catalog production and eventually became a known expert in the field of traditional direct marketing thanks to my deep understanding of both mailing houses and printing. Marketing vendors were keen to help me understand new techniques and ideas. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions.

Now...If I Had to Learn Marketing Without a Degree

How things have changed since I was a young college graduate studying marketing on my own!

The internet has opened up tremendous potential learning opportunities for marketing managers. You can watch YouTube videos, subscribe to podcasts, download tons of books thanks to Amazon Kindle and Google Play, and so much more. 

Hubspot free marketing courses enable any junior marketing manager to learn from the comfort of their own homes. Need to learn marketing software such as MailChimp or ConvertKit? The software vendors themselves provide training!

Many of the old newspapers like Direct Marketing News have gone digital. Gone are the days when the only way to learn about new techniques and marketing research was by attending a conference or seminar. But the opportunities unfolding daily on the internet have made it easier than ever for someone motivated to learn to find the information they need.

A marketing education remains, to me, a priority for anyone interested in a full-time career in marketing. I wouldn’t trade my New York University degree for anything. It was an amazing experience to learn in a workshop environment, to go to the offices of some of the best creative agencies in the world and watch as they planned campaigns, to learn marketing finances and accounting from people who were actually working in the profession. 

But if you aren’t blessed or lucky enough to be able to earn a marketing degree, you can still ensure your marketing education with these ideas. 

straw hat and magazine on the beach

Print Media in Content Marketing

I admit that when I chose the topic of The Use of Print Media in Content Marketing, I did so because I love printed media. When I first entered the marketing profession, print media was still the way to go. Catalogs, direct mail postcards, brochures for checkout line racks, you name it, I produced it. Heck, even ad a print advertisement I created that was published in the New York Times generated such a response that a customer wrote a note to the owner of the garden center where I worked and dropped off the ad for him to see!

But if you Google the phrase “is print dead” you’ll return over 189,000,000 results, far over and above what Joe Pulizzi returned when he searched this phrase back in 2019. In his article, Print Magazines Dead? Bite Your Tongue, Joe states emphatically that print is most certainly not dead. It’s just changing. 

I’m with Joe. Print marketing, whether it’s a custom-created magazine, a flyer, or a rack insert, offers an outstanding opportunity for many companies to promote ideas, the heart of content marketing. Don’t forget that content marketing started with print -- the John Deere magazine, The Furrow, which offered a magazine filled with ideas for mechanizing the farm. And it just happened that John Deere sold those products from tractors to combines that mechanized the farm. 


“The web is where we go to get answers but print is where we go to ask questions.”



Print Media Statistics

From Marketing Profs: print-a-tangible-way-to-invigorate-your-marketing-strategy-infographic

  • In a crowded marketplace, print gives you an edge.
  • 92% of 18-32 year olds state that print is easier to read
  • When making purchasing decisions, consumers trust print 34% more than search engines
  • Postcards have a 4.25% response rate compared to .1% for email marketing
  • 70% of people recall more from reading a print ad than a digital ad
  • Print is better for perceived value, memory and recall of an ad, and emotional response

Up Close and Personal: An Interview with Content Marketer Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Amazon bestselling author of Killing Marketing, Content Inc. and Epic Content Marketing, which was named a “Must-Read Business Book” by Fortune Magazine. His latest book is The Will to Die, his debut novel.

He has founded three companies, including the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and has launched dozens of events, including Content Marketing World. In 2014, he received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Content Council. His podcast series, This Old Marketing with CMI's Robert Rose, has generated millions of downloads from over 150 countries. He is also the author of The Random Newsletter, delivered to thousands every two weeks. His Foundation, The Orange Effect, delivers speech therapy and technology services to children in over 30 states.

My Take on Joe’s Book, Content, Inc.

If you haven’t heard of Joe, I invite you to get to know him through his outstanding book, Content, Inc., which was recently revised and reissued. I purchased my own company from Amazon and devoured it over vacation. It helped me rethink many aspects of content marketing. It’s a great book because it doesn’t just explain what content marketing is, but what a content-first business model looks like and how to create one -- and then, how to leverage it as a business model.

Joe is honest throughout the book that content marketing isn’t a fast route to sales, and he’s right. It takes time, sometimes too long for our clients’ comfort levels, to generate the kind of impact they need to make. That’s okay. Not every marketing tactic is right for every client, and I get that. 

But like Joe, I’ve seen content marketing produce outstanding results. When it works, it works exceptionally well to build brand loyalty, elicit and emotional response, and create a memorable impression on customers that no amount of hype creates.

Joe took time out of his busy schedule to respond to my questions. Thank you, Joe.

The Use of Print Media in Content Marketing

Seven Oaks Consulting (7Oaks): What is your experience using content marketing for your company or your clients?

Joe Pulizzi (JP) I've been in the content marketing industry for over 20 years. Originally, I worked at Penton Media's Custom Media Division working on print magazines for companies like HP, Autodesk, and American Red Cross. I left Penton in 2007 to start Content Marketing Institute, the leading educational organization for content marketing.

7Oaks: Do you use print media, such as niche-focused magazines or other printed materials, as part of your content marketing program?

JP: Not presently. While at CMI, we launched Chief Content Officer magazine in 2011 targeted to 30,000 senior-level marketing executives (I left CMI in 2018).

7Oaks:  How many do you send? How is it distributed and to whom?

JP: Quarterly

7Oaks: What was your ROI?

JP: It was generally break even (subsidized with partner advertising)…but expenses approximately $30,000 per issue. For ROI, we found that those highest-yielding customers of CMI were also subscribers to the magazine. 

7Oaks: Why do you think print is effective?

JP: There are many  reasons why print is effective. First, it grabs attention. Because so few brands are doing it these days, it stands out. Next, if you already have an audience, such as a customer list, you’ve got a good chunk of the work out of the way -- you have an audience who might like to hear from you and who may respond positively to your print piece. Third, and this may be a little out there, but I do think print is ready for a Renaissance. Everyone talks about it being dead, but TV didn’t die when cable and on-demand movies came out, and radio thrives even though we have more choices than ever. There’s still room for print in a media manager’s marketing mix if it fits the strategy.

7Oaks:  Do you think print media is effective for specific industries or all industries? 

JP: I believe print can be effective in any industry.

7Oaks:  Is it better for acquisition or retention marketing?

JP: I think it’s better for retention and building loyalty, but yet, it can work for acquisition marketing. It’s just harder to measure when usingi it for acquisition. 

7Oaks:  Do you think printed materials have a place in the future of content marketing? Why or why not?

JP:  Absolutely. With limited competition it's very easy for a high-quality publication to stand out. Also, people are much more willing to voluntarily give data information for a quality magazine.

Thank you, Joe. You can find his books on Amazon or check out his blog at joepulizzi.com

books and coffee on a table

How Brand Storytelling Increased ROI by 2,700%

Brand storytelling or content marketing engages the imagination, encourages buyer curiosity, and brings customers into your brand story like no other marketing technique I know.

Case in point: the right story increases ROI by 2,700%.

And no, that’s not a typo.

Here’s the story behind this dramatic increase in ROI and how you can grab your own share of that incredible profit potential.

A Tale of Two Brand Stories
Ancient Quartz Crystal Unearthed

Do you see this crystal?

closeup of rock

It was unearthed during an excavation in Virginia. As dawn’s rosy fingers touched the sky, a ray of sunlight fell upon the earth, illuminating the crystal with inner fire. Legend has it that the land where the crystal was found was once a sacred hunting ground. Many flint and stone arrowheads have been found nearby, and evidence of old forests of oak and poplar, inhabited by abundant herds of deer, point to a time long gone when Indians roamed the quiet mossy woods. Perhaps Mother Earth, hearing the cries of her children, gave this healing crystal from her generous supply to restore harmony to the finder. Who knows?

My New Paperweight

Do you see this chunk of quartz crystal?

One morning as I walked my dog across the lawn, I stubbed my toe on a rock. I kicked at the point of muddy rock a bit more until I realized it was part of a bigger rock. My dog started digging and soon handed me what at first looked like a chunk of mud. But I saw a little glimmer so I rinsed it off under the garden hose. It was a beautiful hunk of almost pure quartz. I liked it so I kept it on my desk as a paperweight.

Hey, marketing superstar!

I've got a special gift just for you - a free content marketing planner you can download and print when you join my newsletter. Just let me know your name and email and the download is yours.



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Stories That Sell - The Power of Brand Stories

Both stories are true. I just spun them differently. Which one did you find more appealing?

The second story is, of course, the true story. I stubbed my toe on what I thought was a plain old rock sticking out of the ground while I was walking my dog one morning. I noticed a little glimmer, though, and washed off the rock. Much to my delight, I had a huge chunk of almost perfect quartz. It seems as if my house is actually built on a large quartz deposit. We continually find the most beautiful quartz under the lawn, pure, white, and rose.

But some people who love using crystals for healing might be more attracted to the story of the ancient ground expelling a quartz with healing properties. I wrote this story with a lot of flamboyance and hyperbole, which isn’t my typical style, and not something I might find appealing.

Many copywriters have used such a style to successfully sell products. The most famous example is an advertisement written by the legendary John Caples. “They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano” is a long form ad, or advertorial, used to sell an online course. And it is famous for good reason: not only is it immediately compelling, but it uses the story of an imaginary customer, one who purchased and used the course successfully, to sell the home study music course. It engages the imagination, the emotions, and weaves a net of desire in the prospect’s mind to encourage them to buy the course.

Good content marketing does the same. It uses brand storytelling to sell, and engages the emotions before engaging logic to encourage customers to take the desired action. It builds awareness, interest, desire, and action (AIDA), the proven formula for increasing sales.

The Significant Object Project

Stories sell. Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn conducted an anthropological experiment that has had significant ramifications for marketing professionals. Walker and Glenn’s experiment “demonstrated that the effect of narrative on any given object’s subjective value can be measured objectively.”

To conduct their experiment, the duo purchased $129 worth of tchotchkes, or low value objects from dollar stores. (You know what I mean. C’mon, your house is probably full of them. Mine is.) They hired creative writers to weave compelling narratives around the objects. Then, they placed each object on eBay and measured the final sales value of objects enhanced with stories.

The results: $129 worth of objects generated $3.6 million in net profits, an increase of 2,700%.

This experiment, dubbed the Significant Objects Social Experiment, illustrated what many in marketing had known all along - stories sell more products and enhance their perceived value.

Why Do Stories Increase Perceived Value?

Humans evolved with both logic and emotion. In fact, our emotional brains tend to overrule our logical brains. This is why many marketing and sales techniques play on feelings of scarcity, love, hunger, and desire. Sex sells. So does inadequacy, comfort, longing, status, and a hundred other emotional nuances inherent in the human condition.

Stories tap into the emotional aspect of the buying process and serve as a shortcut directly into the customers’ minds.

Many companies bombard their customers with logic; facts, figures, and features galore. But it is the stories about the products that actually help them sell; the case studies, success stories, and benefits to the end customer. These are what harnesses the emotions of customers and transforms browsers into buyers, looky-lous into loyal fans.

The Bottom Line: Key Takeaways for Marketers

The bottom line is that stories sell. Brand stories are especially powerful as they engage customers in the overall company narrative like nothing else can. But product stories, service stories, and success stories are also powerful motivators.

stories that sell

Your Digital Marketing Action Steps

  • Don’t flood your audience with facts and figures. Even if you sell a highly technical product, start with the story first and support it with facts and figures.
  • Use plain, creative, and natural language in your written materials. Avoid corporate and industry jargon. I always have a tough time convincing my clients in engineering and manufacturing that this is so because they love their jargon (marketers do, too). But at the end of the day, engineers and manufacturers are people, with brains hardwired to love stories. Their stories may resonate with numbers but they still love a good story!
  • Show, show, and show - then tell. Demonstrate the value of your products. Paint colorful pictures about your products with words, photos, and videos. Collect testimonials and success stories among your customers and get their permission to share them. But above all, show - don’t tell - your customers what value they’ll receive from your brand, your business, your products and services.

You may also want to read on Seven Oaks Consulting: What You Can Learn About Marketing from a Lucky Lobster.

Would you like to explore how stories can increase your ROI? Your next step: Call Seven Oaks Consulting for a consultation. We helped a local photographer increase her annual revenues by 50%. We have launched multi-million brands through compelling storytelling. It’s content marketing with digital rocket fuel. Call (434) 574-6253 for a consultation or contact us for a free no-obligation consultation.