Ever walk up to one of those booths at the mall to buy a new phone? Don’t you just hate the pressure that those people try to put on you?
I don’t know about you, but I hate these kinds of sales tactics and hate people who do it to me. I hate it not only because it annoys me…but because it doesn’t work.
So, what does work? Content marketing, which is simply giving people something valuable for free so that you can build a relationship with them that eventually leads to easy sales.
If you want easy sales, then you need to learn how to be a great content marketer. Here’s a crash course that will tell you everything you need to know.
The nuts and bolts of content marketing
Great content marketing does one thing very well: it attracts attention. Unless you’ve been online for ten years and are a minor social media celebrity, your main problem is that nobody knows who you are.
Good content delivered over time will change that. It will give you repeated, regular exposure that builds trust between you and your audience.
What kind of content marketing am I talking about? It includes:
- Blogs – Probably the best known way to share content, blogs are really easy to operate these days. However, competition is stiff, and you need to learn how to be unconventional when it comes to blogging.
- Podcast – If you like to talk, then why not start a podcast on a topic that you like and are really good at? And when you continually churn out great podcasts week after week, it won’t be long until you have the type of success podcasters like Duct Tape Marketing or Six Pixels of Separation have.
- Video – Gary Vaynerchuk wasn’t the first, but he was definitely the best, growing his offline business with his successful Wine Library TV. Besides, YouTube is the second biggest search engine after Google. It’s a great way to grow your business.
Great content marketing can build your business to mythic proportions. When BlendTech founder Tom Dickinson dropped an iPhone into one of his blenders, video-taped the action and put it online, the video became famous on YouTube.
That single video started an entire series of now famous episodes of Tom dropping all sorts of items into his blenders. Customers quickly learned how much stronger Blendtech blenders were than the competitors’. Tom not only educated his customers, but he did it all in a simple and affordable way.
You have to have this before you can sell
How often do you buy from someone you don’t know, whether it’s a stranger at your door or a salesperson at a car lot?
If you’re like me, then probably not very often, if at all!
See, people only buy from people they trust, know and like. Content marketing will help you build that relationship with your readers, so when time comes to sell, it will be easy because people know, like and trust you.
The way you do that is by creating really clear and compelling content. You can break this content down into three pieces:
- Cornerstone content – This is the content that will make up most of what you give your readers…it’s what defines you. If you’re an SEO, then you’ll write about SEO. If you’re a graphic designer, you’ll give content based on graphic design.
- Personal content – Most of your readers will be around to learn what you have to say about your area of expertise. However, you should not neglect to share personal information whether separately or as part of your content. This is a great method to build relationships with readers.
- Spicy content – Finally, you should occasionally write posts that are controversial and link-bait worthy. Write about a high-profile figure that you disagree with or create a list of 53 resources first-time SEOs need like I did.
What you don’t want your content to turn into is a high-pressured sales pitch. Nothing drives readers away faster! The techniques of content marketing won’t work for you if you don’t build trust. Only when you provide high-quality content that trains your audience to pay attention to what you have to say can you expect to have success when it’s time to sell.
How to make selling WAY easier
Listen, you’re not trying to land that deal the moment you meet your reader. You’re not some sleazy, snake-oil salesman who won’t be satisfied unless you buy today. Like Gary Vaynerchuk said, put a ring on it and stop looking for immediate monetization.
See, you’re building a net with your content, a net built on trust and permission that will support future sales. For example, your net will:
- Answer objections – Your content can be designed to answer possible objections readers may raise about your service or product. This way you are removing purchase obstacles out of the way early.
- Tell stories – People love stories and will read a story faster than they’ll read an explanation of your product or service. This is a safe way to build a relationship. Also, share stories about your customers who have had great success using your product. These include testimonials and reviews.
- Solve problems – Any time you help a reader fix a problem that he or she is struggling with, you build trust. How do you find out what problems they are struggling with? Ask them.
Before anyone will buy from you, they need to know you, like you and trust you. Effective content marketing will do just that. Great content is what you give your readers and prospects in exchange for their attention and trust so they’ll eventually give you their money for your product.
Content marketing boils down to this
When it comes to creating and sharing your content, you should have one very straightforward goal: getting people’s permission so you can send them your content. The success or failure of your content marketing boils down to getting people to subscribe to your blog either by email or RSS reader. So, you need to make it easy.
Look at the following home page examples:
Which one do you think does a better job of encouraging someone to subscribe? While both are pretty obvious, I have to go with the top one. What do you think about mine?
When it comes down to a successful content marketing campaign, regular and repeated exposure builds a relationship with your readers that allows you all kinds of chances to convert them. See, content marketing isn’t a one-shot deal like it is with a mobile phone salesman. It’s a long-term relationship.
Use the 89/11 rule to create content and promotions correctly
When you sit down to think about your content marketing plan, it’s important that you think about this: most of your time will be spent creating content your readers can use and want. The other little bit of time should be used to promote your product.
Think about it like an 89/11 rule. Eighty-nine percent of your time should be focused on creating content that builds trust, encourages people to like you and allows your readers to get to know you better. Then eleven percent of your time is spent crafting your promotions for your products. (If you’re curious why I used 89/11, it’s so that the ratio would stand out and you would not confuse it with the common 80/20 Pareto Rule.)
Let me tell you another reason why this content marketing ratio works really well. When you spend this much time with your readers, you will naturally get to know them and their needs. As you learn more and more about their needs, you will start thinking of products to offer them.
Use this often-neglected content marketing tool
Another very important feature of your content marketing plan is the email autoresponder. The email autoresponder allows you to create a tailored email sequence to readers who subscribe. In other words, the 1,000th subscriber has the same experience as the first.
What’s nice about the email autoresponder is that you can promote your very best stuff in a sequence of emails. It could be 7 or 30 emails long. And the nice part about the autoresponder is that it works even when you are not around. So, if you get sick or go on vacation, the email autoresponder is still working for you.
Here are 11 tips to creating killer autoresponders.
- Create great email autoresponder content – keep in mind, the autoresponder needs to be good. You are trying to create a great first impression with your readers, and if you want to build a relationship with them, then your first several messages need to provide useful and unique content in a way that reflects your personality.
- Introduce yourself and thank them for subscribing – after you’ve created your autoresponder series (after blogging consistently for six months, you probably will have enough content to make a 7-part email series), don’t forget to add a friendly introduction email to that list, which tells the subscribers that you are grateful they are there.
- Never trick your email readers – it’s bad to try to fool somebody by pretending that your email autoresponder is “fresh.” Some email providers provide special fields that allow you to keep the date current on each email. I personally don’t think that fools anyone. Remember, you’re trying to build relationships, and small little acts like that can break trust.
- Invite feedback – all your emails in the autoresponder should ask for questions and comments. Tell your readers that you’d love to hear from them.
- Ask them to white-list you – the best way to keep your emails from ending up in your readers’ spam folders is to ask them to white-list you.
- Personally monitor your email replies – when you are trying to create a relationship, you need to be quick on the reply, even if it’s short. Make sure your replies are thoughtful.
- Put your name in the “From” field – because you’re trying to create an intimate connection with your reader, it’s best to put your name in the “From” field.
- Ask directly for feedback – if you tell your email readers to click reply and ask you a question or leave you feedback, you’ll automatically start getting more emails. The more you interact with your readers, the better your rapport is with them.
- Don’t obsess over spam triggers – yes, you should try to do your best to avoid using the obvious words that spam filters will pick up on, but just like you are writing for people and not search engines, you are writing for subscribers and not spam filters. Here’s a fairly recent list of the top 20 spam words you should avoid.
- Lead people to a landing page – if your email is really long, then you should definitely send your readers to a landing page. Spam filters do not like long emails and will flag them.
- Use the rule of 7 – before you start selling anything to your readers, make sure you don’t do so until the 7th email. Typically, if you send a handful of good emails that contain a lot of useful information first, you’ll increase your conversion rate.
Content marketing is truly the new way of selling. It’s effective because it takes the time to give prospects something they want for free before it asks them to buy. It’s all about teaching people to know, love and trust you. When you master this way of doing business, you can easily make a small fortune.
Do you have any content marketing tips?