If you’re a content marketer, high-quality content is your most potent form of advertising.
You may be advertising to attract more clients to a service business. You may be advertising a product. You may be advertising an idea.
But when you publish content, you want someone to do something.
When you’re doing it right, the work you put into your content gets your audience to take a specific action.
And there’s a “secret” to making this kind of advertising work better … a secret that the very best and brightest traditional advertisers have been using for more than a century.
Most advertising ignores this entirely — which is why most advertising doesn’t work very well.
The “secret” might seem like common sense, but your fellow content marketers aren’t getting it right … which is a great opportunity for you.
The secret of great advertising is keep it from looking like advertising
The reason content marketing is so powerful in the first place is that it doesn’t tend to look like an ad — it’s useful information, presented in an accessible, interesting way.
Traditional advertising (like the stuff you see on TV) tries to do this by creating ads that are creative and entertaining. They can be fun to watch, but too often, the audience isn’t given any particular reason to go out and purchase the product.
That kind of “creative” ad passes the entertainment test, but it doesn’t pass the advertising test. It doesn’t get the audience to take the next step toward becoming a customer.
Some marketers use tricks
There are endless tricks that marketers have used to make their advertising look less like an ad.
Direct mail marketers sometimes attach a post-it note saying something like,
This is really cool, you should check it out. ~J
The theory is that just about everyone knows someone whose name starts with J, so we’ll believe that this piece of junk mail has been forwarded to us by someone we know. And this technique can dramatically improve response for direct mail pieces … but at least one marketer has been fined for “deceptive practices” for using it.
A traditional internet marketer I met recently has had good success sending pay-per-click traffic to a landing page that’s intentionally not formatted according to best practices … no subheads, no white space, no headline.
Does that mean that strong headlines, great subheads and short paragraphs aren’t good techniques? Not at all … it means that his audience is so allergic to advertising that “disguising” the landing page has improved his response — at least temporarily.
But tricks don’t work forever. The nice thing about creating quality content in the first place is that you don’t have to trick people into enjoying your content.
As I like to say, Don’t take shortcuts, it takes too long.
The three elements of highly effective content
If you want to create great content — the kind that gets shared, that attracts customers and potential business partners, and that moves your audience to take action — you need to do three things.
- You need to write something useful.
- You need to write something that’s appealing and easy to digest.
- You need to make occasional offers to take the action you’re looking for.
Now, add a dash of copywriting
If what you’re writing is both useful and interesting, but you aren’t seeing the results you want, you probably need a little infusion of copywriting skill.
- How are your headlines?
- Are you uncovering the pain points of your potential customers?
- Are you talking about the benefits of what you have to offer, or are you still rambling on and on about features?
- Do you use the language of your audience?
- Have you actually asked your audience to do what you want them to do?
So what’s the secret?
In a nutshell, here’s the “Copyblogger secret formula” for content that works for your audience and meets your business goals:
Create content that is remarkably useful, that is enjoyable to consume, and that lets the reader know exactly what to do next.
I didn’t say it was easy, but it is simple.
And if that “simple” formula has you breaking out in a cold sweat, go sign up for our free internet marketing course. It will give you all the basics you need to get started.
About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on twitter @soniasimone