Content Marketers Accessing the Wings of Motivation

There are many aspects of motivation that could be analyzed, discussed, dissected, applied, and then analyzed all over again. But, that could result in boredom, especially if you are more interested in getting something done… as a content marketer. So, let’s keep it relevant but simple, ok? Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of what is important when it comes to motivation.

Because, at the end of the day, many of us, as writers, marketers, salespeople, or whatever the title, desire to motivate people into an action step or at least into coming back for more, eh?

The Real and the Fake

The are many people out there (even content marketers) who like to brag about how much they know about psychology. I’m not here to unveil them. The reality is that some people really are naturals at understanding people, even without experience or education. Some folks have been observers of people and have applied it and tested it and found success strategies that they are able to teach to other people. Great! More power to them!

Personally, even if I am in that category, I am of the type who has years of experience in the psychology field as well as completing my doctorate as a psychologist (dissertation phase). So, I have spent more hours than I would like to admit with my nose in the books, on topics such as core motivation theories and the research (with real human beings – volunteers) that has resulted in the knowledge base of information on motivation. But, again, I said I would keep it from going too academic.

So, when it comes to real versus fake, here are two observations (one is based on the other):

  • Avoid the fakes. In other words, don’t just go for what looks shiny.
  • True story: I once heard of a “doctor” but when she shared her age and you reverse engineered that into the fastest possible method of attaining the doctorate, she would have been about seven years old. Now, if she were the most brilliant person I had ever met, maybe. But, she was, uh, a couple short of a six-pack. My advice on that? If it is too good to be true or if something smells “off” keep walking.

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

Fun words, eh? Ok, maybe not. But, they are not as difficult to understand as they may seem if you look at the first two letters. So, think in when you see intrinsic and ex[ternal] when you see extrinsic.

It isn’t quite as cut and dried as that but the idea (and some of you may already have learned this in school!) is that the intrinsic motivation is that type of motivation that comes from within you. In comparison, extrinsic motivation is that motivation that comes toward you externally and basically has to do with rewards.

So, if we were to analyze Gandhi or Mother Theresa, we would probably find quite a bit that could fall into the category of intrinsic motivation. Granted, for them, it was their spiritual beliefs, so there is much more to this than one blog article, but they were motivated to do what they did out of their internal beliefs and motivation.

In comparison, if you picture a horse with a carrot in front of him, plodding forward to try to get that carrot, that horse is motivated indeed, but it is extrinsic. The horse is motivated by the acquisition of the reward, as in the carrot.

See the picture? Don’t worry if it takes a bit to really iron out the differences in motivation. There are graduate courses on this topic 😉 But, I say that to say you are not alone. I’m sure you can grasp this without enrolling in college or grad school.

Defining YOUR Objective in Your Content Marketing Endeavors

Your objective in content marketing – what is it? Is it to motivate the readers to come back for more or is it to get them to perform the call to action (CTA)? No matter what the objective is in your content marketing endeavors, there is some sort of motivation that is going on at any given time, even if it is simply for someone to notice something that you are writing or a brand or review. I wouldn’t think that people write for no reason and desire that no one reads their articles and I would certainly think that that is not the case with content marketers. How about you? What do you think?

We Have Decided We Want to Motivate with our Marketing… Now What?

Going back to that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation… They are both effective in their own way. But, both may not be ideal in a given situation.

For example, if someone feels moved to do something (motivated) from an internal desire, it is more likely to be something that they will follow through with and more likely to be sincere and desirable because it came from their own desire.

In contrast, that carrot, extrinsic motivation? Oh, it works. Think of it. If you offer to pay someone $5,000 if they are the top salesperson in the office, they are likely motivated to attempt to win that reward and get that $5,000 over the rest of their coworkers. That is extrinsic motivation… using a reward. But, then again, it could be said, by some, that the promise of a paycheck is a form a reward and motivation for an employee to keep working and working well. But, let’s save that for another discussion.

So, both types of motivation work but some (i.e. extrinsic) are easier out of the starting gate than others (encouraging intrinsic). The encouragement of the intrinsic motivation depends on many factors, including the person and the person’s value system. It also may depend on your honest ability to persuade. So, if persuasion is not really your thing, maybe extrinsic motivation is a place to start and pulling out the carrots may not be a bad idea.

Applying a Motivation Strategy That Works for Your Objective and for You

So, let’s pretend that you have decided on an extrinsic motivation method for your motivation strategy. You are probably halfway there already. You see, for the most part, the use of lead magnets in exchange for subscriptions is a form of extrinsic motivation. See? It isn’t all bad. It is an effective method of motivation and it is one that is in use prevalently throughout the internet.

With the lead magnet, you are asking someone to offer their email address for your email list and in exchange, you are rewarding them with a lead magnet (i.e. report, ebook, etc.). This reward is the essence of extrinsic motivation. You have motivated the action of one of your readers to subscribe to your list.

In the same way, adding bonuses to sales opportunities can act as a reward to help entice (a.k.a. extrinsically motivate) someone to upgrade their purchase.

What about those contests? Gifts with purchase? Even the bundle packages? The sky is the limit.


So we have defined the technical terms of motivation. What does that mean to you? How will that change what you do in your content marketing endeavors?

Maybe it won’t change anything. Maybe this just confirms that what you have been doing is right on track.

If not, let’s start motivating!

If you are new to the idea of motivating, start with your objective and then try extrinsic motivating, the one that includes a reward of some type as a result of the desired action.

As you become more adept at this whole thing, start working (testing) with intrinsic motivation, where you are using gifts of persuasion. No gimmicks. Just working with people where they are at, understanding what it is that is at the heart of who they are and their value systems. But, then again, that just might be another article. 🙂