Don’t Make This Critical Content Marketing Mistake

By October 17, 2012Communications

OK, I admit it. I love Men’s Health Magazine. When I read an issue I feel like there’s still hope for me–still time to create chiseled six-pack abs, land that perfect job, take an epic trip, generate untold wealth, attract hordes of smoking hot babes just dying to please me–you know, the basic stuff a man of my stature deserves. It’s full of useful tricks and tips, style advice, fitness regimens and human interest stories, sort of playing the role for me that Cosmo does for the ladies. I tend to enjoy staying plugged in to the younger set because I feel better when I do.

So when they offered me a chance to get some email alerts once a week or so on fitness and style, I signed up for a few. It was a way to stay plugged into that content between issues and get some good advice on whatever manly activity I was currently weak in.

Big Mistake.

EVERY single one I have received so far has been marketing spam. I was HOPING for, and expecting, blog-style columns driving me back to the site where I would be happy to consume advertising while I read invaluable posts about advancing my career and or 99 sex tricks certain to drive her crazy. Instead, I’m getting pummeled by teasers for $79 nutritional supplements and workout CDs. There has not been one single link to useful advice that I didn’t have to buy. VERY disappointing.

Look, content marketing won’t work well unless you surface valuable content. You have to provide information worth consuming that folks will want to share and that will enhance your reputation as a trusted provider of whatever it is you provide. All this tactic did was get me to unsubscribe from those emails as fast as I possibly could, with the additional side effect of undermining my desire to return to the site on my own. It was a classic bait and switch that altered my point of view on the publication from trusted source to spammer.

Another brand I cared about, forever tarnished. Sad. Very sad indeed.


  • ExtremelyAvg says:

    It sounds like they tricked you. It also sounds like it was intentional and I’m glad you called them out. I may just remember this next time I’m looking for a magazine and choose something else. There needs to be penalties for bad marketing behavior.

  • Marijean says:

    Do you think that has to do with the fact that print publishing has suffered so much financially that they’re now forced to rely on streams of income that are less than savory — and maybe even a little desperate? I hate it, too and find this to be true of a number of magazine’s approaches with related content.

  • Great post Rusty and a valuable reminder that brands who abuse their fans’ trust do so at their own peril.  As Marijean suggests, some finance person probably thought they could make some quick income off this side venture and didn’t think through the impact on their customers and ultimately the core of their brand.  Goes to show that there are no easy shortcuts back to prosperity for the ailing publishing industry.

  • rustyspeidel says:

    @John Herrmann It’s just really disappointing because their instincts are correct on the content they produce. I’m even happy to buy some stuff now and then. But this is too much to soon.

  • 3HatsComm says:

    @John Herrmann Just mentioned in a tweetchat yesterday that being invited into someone’s inbox is a gift, one brands need to take seriously and not abuse. Like you say, no shortcuts.

  • 3HatsComm says:

    Like you Rusty, I’m thisclose to unsubbing from so many because of this right here. Even when the bait ‘n switch is not quite this extreme, it’s annoying to see trusted brands and companies use the guise of ‘blog’ and ‘content’ to push, pimp, promote and sell. When I click that good headline, scan a post and then realize it’s nothing more of a glorified ad for a webinar or book.. grrr. It shouldn’t be this hard. You want people to read your content – give them content worth reading. Done. FWIW.