This is an installment in the Content Marketing 101 series.
Sure, it makes us feel warm and fuzzy to create great content. But can we actually get any customers with it?
Absolutely, but not if we take the usual blogger’s approach. Money doesn’t drop out of the sky just because we produce high-quality material. We need to put some time, thought and planning into the marketing side of the content marketing equation.
And that means we need to think strategically about how different types of content contribute to the larger persuasion cycle.
Get their attention
Earlier in this series, we talked about the fact that every bit of content needs to be a tasty cookie that rewards your audience for consuming it.
So how can you attract a new audience to come find you? You need something bigger and more exciting than a cookie.
You need a birthday cake.
In other words, a piece of content that’s exciting, that feels special, and that tastes good. (It doesn’t hurt if it also has a great headline.)
Not only that, it has to show your potential audience that you know your stuff and that you solve a worthwhile problem. Otherwise they might enjoy scarfing down your content, but they won’t bother coming back for more.
White papers, special reports, extended tutorials, manifestos and viral video all make excellent birthday cakes. (If you want more ideas, you can find lots more here.)
Contrary to popular belief, you do want marketing messages in your birthday cake content. But they have to be palatable, subtle messages. You’re not closing sales here . . . the birthday cake is just the beginning of the conversation.
Raise questions. Poke around at pain points that you can address in later content. Tell stories that resolve objections. But be subtle about it. The purpose of this content is to get your audience into a receptive state of mind before they start hearing any overt sales messages from you.
Create interest and desire for what you have to offer, but don’t talk too much (if at all) about how you’re going to solve all your audience’s problems and make their lives wonderful.
If your birthday cake is compelling enough, your audience will stick around to find those answers.
And, of course, how does your birthday cake get in front of a new audience? By being remarkable enough to share. If it’s not good enough to link to, bookmark, retweet, and email friends about, it’s not good enough. Keep working on it, or partner with a content expert who can create something exceptional for you.
Converting attention to customers
Good bloggers are fantastic at capturing attention, but sometimes we have a tough time knowing what to do with it.
The answer is to keep delivering compelling messages to our new audience, either using a blog, an email autoresponder, or both.
Here’s where you use content marketing fundamentals to start creating a commercial relationship. Obviously, you still deliver terrific quality. You teach and entertain more than you sell. You use metaphor, rhythm and vivid language to make your writing sing.
But you also use the techniques we teach at Copyblogger to create an audience of buyers, not just fans. You begin to call on your copywriting bag of tricks, adding more persuasive elements to your writing.
You’re still keeping the selling under the radar at this point, especially if you’re using a blog to deliver your content. At this phase, you’re building your case, establishing trust, and increasing the intensity of your audience’s desire.
There’s definitely an art to writing an effective landing page, but if you’ve primed your audience with a smart content strategy, the landing page doesn’t have nearly as much work to do.
How to be in the third tribe
If you don’t see yourself using the hard-sell, high-squeeze tactics of the traditional Internet marketing crowd, but you also don’t want to eat ramen noodles for the rest of your life as a “cool but broke” blogger, you can ignore those two tribes and join what we’re calling the third tribe.
In the third tribe, we take the best elements from hardcore Internet marketing, but we deliver them with the passion, personal voice and credibility that the best bloggers have to offer.
Content marketing is our tribe’s most important tool. In fact, it’s the tool that defines this tribe. Master it, and the game is yours.
So please join us for the rest of the Content Marketing 101 series. Coming up next week is an interview showing how one blogger took sharp, snarky content and turned it into a highly profitable business.
Read the rest of the series
- The Three Essentials of Breakthrough Content Marketing
- 49 Creative Ways You Can Profit from Content Marketing