“Oh please... ” - that was my first thought when it popped up on my screen this morning. One more blog post from an IT security vendor that began with: “In today’s digital age…”
You’ve seen your share of openings like this, I’m sure. Usually, I would not have taken a second look. Life is too short.
Talking about starting with a whimper and snail-pacing downhill from there. I won’t link to the post here.
That’s to protect the innocent. It’s also because of what I found next.
The blog seemed to target buyers in the retail sector. Maybe they would read past that opening hurdle and lap the rest right up?
Perhaps I’m just too picky, I told myself.
Coffee beats bromide. Until it doesn’t.
Any other day, I would have moved right on. This morning, one sip of coffee later, I smelled a blogging opportunity.
With a more positive outlook, I dared a quick scan. This is what I learned:
For content that begins with “In today’s digital age…”, you cannot set your expectations low enough.
After so many years, I should have known better. It made me wonder, though.
Cliché as a “hook”? Read it as a warning label.
How often does the opening line “In today’s digital age…” still appear on IT security blogs? Or in other B2B content?
And why? As a warning?
So I googled it. Before we get to the results, a bit of background first.
I’ve written, edited, and broadcast about IT security, data protection, and privacy for general and business audiences since before the term “cybersecurity” or “cyber security” (take your pick) was coined.
To put things in perspective, that’s about as long as professional journalists, writers, and editors have avoided the cliché “In today’s digital age...”
Some have not.
In 21st-century cybersecurity content marketing, why is this cliché still a thing?
Look, I get it. We are not writing for an audience of professional writers or editors. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to underestimate all other readers.
The problem with this particular cliché is the airs it puts on.
It reads and sounds like a heads-up for someone who spent the past 50 years herding camels in the Mongolian desert, without contact with the rest of the world.
The gut reaction of anyone else, especially in IT, to such twaddle: “Don’t waste my time.”
What’s the big deal then, you ask? They’ll not read further, so what? Content marketing #fail. Case closed.
Not so fast. Starting with a non-starter isn’t the only problem here. Let’s also consider the collateral brand damage.
Three reasons to ban “in today’s digital age…” from your content
Here are three reasons why cybersecurity companies should ban this cliché from their content marketing altogether:
- It’s a throwaway line, one that qualified as a truism already decades ago.
It doesn’t add anything of value for today’s readers. It seems oblivious to their time constraints, treats them as if they were yokels without a clue, and expects them to read on no matter what.
What it signals about the brand behind the copy: “We just want to sell stuff and couldn’t care less about you as a prospect or customer. Now go buy our solution already.”
- It’s a bromide at best and lazy at worst.
The writer could have gone straight to the core of a subject matter or at least laid the groundwork. To deploy the mother of all cyber platitudes instead reveals a breathtaking lack of research and preparation.
What it signals about the brand: “We lack focus and couldn’t be bothered with doing our homework, but hope you hang in there with us anyway.”
- It’s cheap.
This kind of copy is typically cranked out by freelance writers who lack experience, don’t know the subject area, or both. Sarah Rickerd wrote about it on the Content Marketing Institute’s blog: Why Freelance Writers Aren’t Getting the Results You Want.
Often they are generalists who get paid a few cents per word to create content around SEO keywords.
What it signals about the brand: “We are too cheap for basic quality control and don’t care if our content reflects poorly on our products or services.”
If you are in cybersecurity, those are messages you don’t want to send. So why do some companies still think that this hokum could work as a “hook”?
Perhaps they simply haven’t found an editor yet who knows and cares about such details and how to fix them.
If that describes someone you know, feel free to forward them this post with my email address.
Expect further hands-on tips in my upcoming posts and mailings. Are you looking for subject matter experts who plan, create, and promote data-driven, targeted IT security content fast? Let us know.
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