This is a simple truth which needs grasping at the outset if you’re looking to profit from content marketing. No-one is looking for a sales pitch. Many businesses adopt an approach which seems to work on the philosophy that they have a captive audience. On the web, this is never the case.
If all you are doing is trying to sell to people, you are offering nothing of value. It doesn’t matter how good your products or services are, the modern, internet-savvy individual is closed-off to sales pitches by default because if they paid attention to all the promotional content they came across on the web, they’d never get anything done.
If all you’re doing is selling, you have no audience
What you should be looking to do instead is to erode people’s mental defences so that they are actually willing to listen and consider the benefits of what you have to offer.
You do this by building trust and you build trust through offering something useful. Sales pitches aren’t useful to the reader – they are only beneficial to the seller. Content which informs, instructs or entertains, however, serves a purpose for both parties.
Once you have people onside, they will be more inclined to listen to you. But a word of warning here – don’t fritter away the trust you have built by reverting to a blunt, alienating sales approach. This will only undo all the work you have already put in.
Instead, you should be looking to camouflage your advertising. Drip feed it to people within a greater volume of content which is useful to them and they will take in more than they ever would were you to try and present them with all the information at once.
Contrast these two scenarios:
You walk in to buy something and the sales assistant is on you in an instant. Rather than listening to your specific needs, they simply list the features and benefits of the product in question, bombarding you with information, much of which is irrelevant. It is a wearying experience and while you may emerge with what you came for, you will need a very good reason to revisit the shop in question.
The shop assistant asks what you are looking for and listens to your needs. They make recommendations, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of different products and they attempt to find exactly what is right for you. Even if they don’t ultimate have what you are looking for, it has still been a valuable experience and you are therefore likely to return.
Welcoming potential customers
The online world is no different. If a website repeatedly gives you the hard sell, you have no real reason to visit and if you don’t visit, you won’t be buying anything.
It’s about balance. You don’t have just the one shot at making a sale, so don’t act like that’s the case. You can build desire for your products and services over time and then when you actually try to make a sale, people will be that much more responsive.
Web content is a great way of offering real value to anyone visiting your site because in the long-term it saves you time. If customers repeatedly ask the same question about something you sell, you don’t have to address the issue with each of them. Instead, you can tackle it once via a blog post and then anyone who has the same concerns can read it and hopefully have their fears allayed.
Content for different purposes
Good web content can help you attract an audience, turn those people into customers and by building a relationship, you can hopefully persuade them to become repeat customers as well – which has to be your ultimate goal. Use different approaches to achieve different ends.
You want people to know you, like you and trust you. Whether you use blog posts, infographics, ‘how to’ videos or emails, content can help you achieve this. The obvious thing to do is to adopt attention-grabbing strategies. This is the first step really and the key thing to remember is that whatever you produce has to be remarkable enough that people will consider it worth sharing.
The exact means by which they share your content is almost a secondary concern, because without producing something that warrants wider attention, you have nothing to work with. This means spending longer on what you produce, striving for top quality. One piece of content which gains decent traction is worth infinite half-baked ideas which haven’t been properly realised. This step is the equivalent of getting people into your shop. Once they’re there, you can try and impress them with your knowledge and helpfulness.
Persuading people to buy
Once you’ve got people’s attention, you need to start persuading them. You do this not by instructing people to buy something, but by forming a strong case so that they see no reason not to buy. It is about building and maintaining a relationship, because once you have someone onside, they will be more receptive and you can then direct them to pages which are a little more straightforward about the fact that you have something to sell – a product page, for example, where they can simply add the item in question to their basket.
Creating content for lead generation or with a view to converting prospects into customers demands a slightly different approach to when you’re simply trying to attract attention. The overall focus is still on providing visitors with something which is in some way of value to them, but the emphasis shifts slightly. Rather than the sales aspect being right in the background to the point of invisibility, it now becomes a little more prominent.
Once you have built a degree of trust with a person through informing, instructing or entertaining them, they should consider you a credible outlet from which to buy. They may even come to closely identify with your brand. Either way, there is some form of relationship there. They should feel that you know what you are talking about whilst also being aware that you don’t try and sell to them as a matter of course. In short, they are far more receptive to what you have to say.
No-one is looking for a sales pitch, so you need to communicate in such a way that people will actually pay attention. You do this by demonstrating that you are worth their time (and money) and that is really what content marketing is all about.