What can a movie about a male stripper teach you about engaging your audience and giving them what they really want?
With a fistful of dollars and a few free evenings you could probably work it out on your own, but to save you an embarrassing conversation with your spouse or accountant, I’m going to give you a shortcut.
All the lessons you need to know are available in the new movie Magic Mike, the tale of a male stripper at a popular club in Tampa who trains his fellow dancers in the art of seducing from the stage.
On the surface it is two hours of beefcake drama. But by paying attention to more than just the muscles you can learn how to build a frenzy of excitement and loyalty from your own audience — no G-string required.
Cue the music, and let’s get started.
Know what you are really selling
Dallas: [to Mike] “You are the husband they never had! You are that dreamboat guy that never came along!”
The naked men aren’t the reason women flock to the strip club (well, not the only reason). Magic Mike knows these women are looking for an attractive, attentive man who is focused only on pleasing them, momentarily suspending their everyday responsibilities and routine. It’s a welcome break from commutes, bills, and caring for others.
Magic Mike isn’t selling beefcake, though it is a feature of his product. What he’s really selling is escape from reality and an injection of excitement and attention into everyday life.
What are you selling?
When you know the intersection between your expertise and what your audience most desires, you can create an irresistible product for them. Your book, course or service isn’t what you are selling; the end result the user gets is what is important: escape, confidence, comfort, knowledge, entertainment.
You know your target audience already. By digging through this demographic and psychographic information, you can find out what makes them tick and, more importantly, where they have problems.
The intersection of those problems and your expertise is the sweet spot.
- You are not selling a fitness product to baby boomers; you are selling continued independence and mobility as they age.
- You are not selling a location finder app to traveling sales people; you are selling confidence to show up to sales appointments on time.
- You are not selling a package tour to busy people; you are selling the ease of a worry-free vacation.
(Keep in mind people will not always buy what you think they need, so ‘customer need’ is not a good enough answer. They must also be willing to spend money for it.)
Case Study: Authors Sean Platt and David Wright of Collective Inkwell were early adopters of eBook self-publishing. These two quickly recognized the different formats in which eBooks could be consumed by busy people. They matched their delivery to something most people can relate to: television. Their 99-cent weekly “episodes” are hot property in a market most writers didn’t even know existed.
When you know what your audience wants and why, you can create an irresistible product.
Grab their attention
Magic Mike: [Dressed as a police officer] We keep getting complaints about noise and underage drinking. Everybody sit down, we’re gonna be here for a while. You don’t have anything sharp on you that I can stick myself with, do you?
Magic Mike: Good. ‘Cause I do!
[rips off pants, women scream with delight]
The way you introduce your wares is almost as important as what you sell.
Imagine the only exterior sign at the strip club saying “Naked Men Inside.” How many women do you think would go in? As a card-carrying woman, I can tell you the answer is close to zero.
In a scene from the movie, the strippers were hired to look like cops responding to a noise disturbance at a party. It shocked and titillated the women to first believe they were naughty enough to be in trouble with the law and then to be treated to a naughty show. These were good girls pretending to be bad girls for the night, and Magic Mike knew just how to bridge the gap for them.
Whether on stage or making house calls, Magic Mike knows how to make an entrance.
What is your opening act?
Surprising and delighting your readers with an attention-getting opener will entice them to keep reading and clicking around in your website.
Your headlines, email subject lines, and offers must appeal to your audience specifically, whether that means being saucy, academic, funny, heartfelt, or snarky. Your tone should match your audience profile.
The more general or mass appealing you decide to be, the less impact you’ll have. Your target audience should know from the moment they arrive your content is specifically for them.
When you know you’re alienating some people, you are probably doing it right.
Case Study: Danielle LaPorte knows her audience wants business success in a personally fulfilling, holistic way. She starts her messages with statements like this: “This is your guarantee of failure. Proceed anyway.” For a mostly female audience of solo entrepreneurs who struggle with the idea of failure, this is the permission slip to do it anyway, especially when she shares how her own failures have shaped her eventual success.
If you can’t first get your audience’s attention, they’ll never hear your message.
Provide consistently compelling content
Paige: [sees Mike counting money] Wow. That’s a lot of ones.
Magic Mike: There are some fives in there.
Paige: Oh, ok. No twenties?
Magic Mike: Oh, you don’t wanna know what I have to do for twenties.
When your basic content is a quality act, readers assume your paid products and services are of the same or higher quality.
When you provide inconsistent blog content, it sends a similar message about your paid offerings.
Imagine Magic Mike waiting for inspiration every night before the show, never knowing what he was going to do on stage until he got there. What if he only worked out when he felt like it instead of every day?
If the shows at the club were mediocre, or the men were no more buff than the average guy on the street, it would no longer be the destination of every bachelorette or 40th birthday party in the area. People would lose interest. Magic Mike would be Just Mike.
The show has to be great every night, and Magic Mike does the behind-the-scenes work to make this happen.
How do you provide consistently compelling content?
To make your content a total beefcake, you have to work out regularly. An excellent strategy is an editorial calendar, mapping out posts, eBooks, and courses on subjects most appealing to your audience. By giving it a few hours’ thought, you can plan a series of strong, related content over the coming months to solidify your reputation as a reliable expert. This calendar also helps you create a basic “workout” schedule to get it done.
Your content becomes less about standalone instantaneous inspiration and more about ongoing expert execution. You go from occasional viral hits to steady traffic and sales week in and week out.
Case Study: Peep Laja of Conversion XL writes compelling, actionable, and heavily researched information on converting traffic. Every article is carefully crafted to give practical value to the reader in a subject many people don’t understand. He never veers from his area of expertise, and he always adds live examples to illustrate his points. He doesn’t have filler content on his site.
Peep’s show is good every night, which is why his consultation services are in such high demand.
Anyone can write occasional compelling content in a burst of inspiration, but a pro knows how to turn that burst into a lucrative creative habit. An audience can definitely tell the difference.
Reward loyal fans
Dallas: Fact is, the law says you cannot touch!
Dallas: But I think I see a lotta lawbreakers up in this house tonight …
Treating all your traffic the same is a mistake.
That’s why grocery stores and casinos have loyalty cards and your local car wash gives you a free wash after you buy 10. They want to encourage your continued patronage.
At the strip club, the person who is tucking bills in the G-string gets more attention from the dancers and wait staff than the person who doesn’t tip. The party planner who often brings bachelorette and 50th birthday groups around gets better pricing and seating. A regular patron gets a discount drink card or half-price admission for bringing a friend.
Magic Mike wants his best customers to feel special so they will keep coming back with friends. They are the lifeblood of his business, and he doesn’t forget it.
How do you reward loyalty?
Your email subscribers and customers have either paid you or given you permission to market to them. What can you offer them the occasional reader can’t have? How can you give them that virtual punch card and reward for loyalty?
One effective way is with an original content newsletter, bonus report or short autoresponder series of valuable information. You can also give them discounts and coupons not available to the general public.
In my business, we write a more personal article every week for our email subscribers and run contests and giveaways that don’t make it to the website. We have similar perks for our Facebook fans. We want them to know we appreciate their loyalty to us and highlight to occasional readers the value of subscribing.
Case Study: Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income does an excellent job with this in his email list, giving his subscribers first look and insider peeks on how he successfully runs his business. His emails are like notes from a friend — a smarter, more successful friend who really wants you to succeed, too.
When there is no distinction between an average reader and a loyal fan, you’ll have a hard time creating the rabid fan base that will grow your business.
Promote new talent
Dallas: Will you welcome to the stage, the one, the only… Magic Mike!
Stripping is not a long-term career, and the club owner Dallas in the movie knows this. He went from figuratively ‘owning’ the stage when he performed to actually owning the entire club, bringing in fresh talent and expanding his business.
Your peers in the industry are not strictly competition, and acknowledging and promoting them does not diminish your standing.
You’ll never become a leader in your industry without at least meeting the other leaders in your industry. When you reach out and get to know your peers, you’ll find more opportunities for cross-promotion, guest posting, and joint ventures than trying to go it alone. In addition, by bringing in new talent you look more confident in your own core knowledge to your audience.
How do you promote your peers?
Don’t assume your act is the only one, because it isn’t. Your audience already knows this, and you should, too.
Reach out to a few bloggers in your sphere via email and start getting to know them. Stay up-to-date on what other people are saying and doing in your niche through Google Alerts and forums. Attend live events and tweetups to find your peers and introduce yourself.
Start thinking of them as collaborators instead of competition and see how many opportunities open up in front of you.
Case Study: Corbett Barr of Think Traffic has taken a similar route to club owner Dallas by promoting various experts on website traffic generation and retention on his site, and his monthly traffic reports are proof this strategy is working.
When you band together to create quality content and encourage up-and-coming talent, your audience will be even more committed to you. You have gone from the opening act to the owner of the club, emceeing the show on a nightly basis to a packed house.
Make the ask
As the show comes to a close, the emcee comes out to remind people how much fun they’ve had and to be sure to tip the staff. He will also call out special upcoming events to give people reason to come back with their friends. The audience is most inclined to take action on a request like this immediately at the end of a good show, and the emcee knows this.
Every bit of content you create is capable of seducing your audience, but it all leads up to your close. At the end of every performance, don’t forget the call to action. It isn’t seduction if you don’t seal the deal, and the most frequent reason this doesn’t happen is simply not asking for it in the first place.
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After a performance like that, your fans are perfectly primed to take the next step if you just ask.
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Just keep your hands where we can see them …
About the Author: Betsy Talbot and her husband Warren provide realistic advice for unrealistic dreamers every week at Married with Luggage. They've been traveling the world since 2010 and have no plans to settle down. Find out how to harness your own big dream — mentally, socially, and financially — in their how-to guide, Dream Save Do.