Content Marketing & Business Goals
To make content work, you need to understand your marketing and business goals. Only then can you create content that serves those goals, instead of just giving your audience something to pass the time.
Your blog posts, email marketing, ebooks, podcasts, advertising … all of it needs to fit into a larger picture. So, if you’re using content to market a business, you need a strategic framework so you can get the most out of your time and hard work.
You must “Build Trust” with your audience. This is the most obvious use of content marketing, and it’s a good one.
When you create useful, interesting, and valuable content, your audience learns they can trust you. They see that you know your topic. They get a sense of your personality and what it would be like to work with you.
Lack of trust kills conversion. An abundance of valuable content builds trust like nothing else.
You need to attract new prospects to your marketing system. We all had it drilled into our heads by Seth Godin when we started in content marketers: You have to be remarkable.
Your content has to be compelling enough that it attracts links, social media sharing, and conversation.
Why? Because that’s how new people find you.
No matter how delightful your existing customers are, you need a steady stream of new prospects to keep your business healthy.
Remarkable content that gets shared around the web will find your best new prospects for you and lead them back to everything you have to offer.
Most enduring businesses thrive because they solve problems.
They solve health problems, parenting problems, money problems, business problems, technology problems, “What should I make for dinner?” problems.
First you must know what your target audience problem is and then you can figure out how to help them — and that becomes the core of your marketing message.
Strategic content dives into the problems your prospects are facing. What annoys them? What frightens them? What keeps them awake at night?
Smart content marketing programs leave room for audience questions. These might come in email replies, blog comments, or you may hold Q&A sessions or webinars specifically to solicit questions.
Listen to the problems your market asks you about, and use those as a compass to guide your future content.
Then talk about solutions.
Good content marketing talks about what fixes your audiences annoying problems. Techniques, tips, tricks, methods, approaches.
Your content will have a particular take on solving your market’s problems. Your individual approach is the flesh and blood of your content marketing.
Your “10 Ways to Solve Problem X” post shows the benefits of your approach. It illustrates how you solve problems and shows customers what they get out of working with you.
Strategic content doesn’t just tell a prospect “My product is a good way to solve your problem.” It shows them. And that’s a cornerstone persuasion technique.
Overcome objections, because your prospect is looking for ways to solve his/her problem, but he’s also keeping an eye out for potential new problems.
Strategic content can be a superb way to address prospect objections — the reasons they don’t buy.
Is price a pain point? Write content that demonstrates how implementing your solutions saves money in the long run.
Do your customers think your product will be too complicated to use? Write content that shows customers going from zero to sixty … painlessly.
Understand the objections that keep customers from buying, and then think about creative ways to resolve those objections in content — often before the buyer ever gets to that sales page.
Always try to paint the picture of life with your product. Ad-man Joe Sugarman was one of the great early practitioners of content marketing. He was a master of long-copy magazine ads for his company JS&A (a consumer gadget company) — ads that were often as interesting and compelling as the magazine articles they appeared next to.
In his Copywriting Handbook, he described how he might approach writing an ad for a Corvette.
Feel the breeze blowing through your hair as you drive through the warm evening. Watch heads turn. Punch the accelerator to the floor and feel the burst of power that pins you into the back of your contour seat. Look at the beautiful display of electronic technology right on your dashboard. Feel the power and excitement of America’s super sports car.
Sugarman isn’t describing the car. He’s describing the experience of the driver.
Sugarman was a master at mentally putting the customer into the experience of owning the product … whether that product was a pocket calculator, a private jet, or a multi-million dollar mansion.
It works very nicely in an ad. It works even better in your content.
Storytelling is one of the best content marketing strategies, and it’s a superb way to let customers mentally “try out” your offer before they ever experience it for themselves. Use content to show what it’s like to own your product or use your service.
Case studies are terrific for this, as are any stories that show how your approach to problem-solving works. Pick up Sugarman’s book for lots of ideas about how to create fascinating content for products that might not immediately suggest a fascinating story.
Every company needs to attract new customers. But the biggest growth potential in most businesses comes from building a tighter relationship with your existing customers.
A solid base of referral and repeat business is the hallmark of a great business. Even if you never did any content marketing to anyone other than your customers, you could radically improve your business by improving the communication you have with your customers today.
Create a richer experience for the people who have already bought from you. Make your products and services work better by pairing them with useful, user-friendly content.
Don’t treat the waitress better than you do your date. Give great stuff to the people who have already bought from you, and they’ll reward you for it.
Now let’s look at the 17 Copywriting Axioms of Joe Sugarman who is considered one of the best copywriters of all time. He’s up there with David Ogilvy, Eugene Schwartz, and John Caples. He’s the real deal and he happened to write a book on copywriting that has become a classic. It’s easily one of the top 5 books on copywriting. (you can get a copy here
In Advertising Secrets of the Written Word, he breaks down his approach to copy so that you can replicate it. Also, within the book, he includes 17 axioms of copywriting. To write copy as persuasive as Sugarman’s, this is where you want to start.
I’ve copied each of his axioms here.
If you want to write better copy that gets you more customers, you should staple these to the wall beside your desk or computer:
- Copywriting is a mental process the successful execution of which reflects the sum total of all your experiences, your specific knowledge and your ability to mentally process that information and transfer it onto a sheet of paper for the purpose of selling a product or service. This is Sugarman’s definition of copywriting. Basically, it’s the process of putting your knowledge and experience in writing in order to sell a product or service.
All the elements in an advertisement are primarily designed to do one thing and one thing only: get you to read the first sentence of the copy. Your entire ad is designed to do one thing: get people to read the first sentence. This is why people include giant, bold headlines. If you can’t get people to start reading your ad, you’ll never persuade them to buy from you. Never design an ad that distracts people from reading the first sentence.
The sole purpose of the first sentence in an advertisement is to get you to read the second sentence of the copy. There’s a lot of formulas out there on how to write headlines and start your copy. But at the end of the day, all it really needs to do is to get people to keep reading. Grab people’s attention with the first sentence and set the stage so that they’ll want to keep reading.
Your ad layout and the first few paragraphs of your ad must create the buying environment most conducive to the sale of your product or service. As you get people to start reading your copy, the next goal is to create what Sugarman calls a “buying environment.” This includes the copy, the layout, design, everything in your ad. The rest of these axioms will help you create that buying environment.
Get the reader to say yes and harmonize with your accurate and truthful statements while reading the copy. As people read your copy, they should say yes to each of your statements. All of your claims should resonate deeply with them. The goal is to write from their point of view so that they get the feeling that you know exactly what they’re going through. This is only possible when you put in the time to deeply understand your customers. The easiest way to do this is by talking to them in person and asking them about their problems.
Your readers should be so compelled to read your copy that they cannot stop reading until they read all of it as if sliding down a slippery slope. Your copy needs to be so compelling that people can’t stop reading. Do this by leading with a personal story, give hints about what’s coming later, or not completing answering a question. Give people a reason to want to keep reading.
When trying to solve problems, don’t assume constraints that aren’t really there. When writing copy, none of us know what will truly work. The only way to find the best solution is to try different approaches. So experiment with your copy and make sure you can measure it to see which versions work the best.
Keep the copy interesting and the reader interested through the power of curiosity. By building curiosity in your copy, you’ll easily get people to keep reading. Sugarman relies heavily on curiosity to keep people reading and it can be a very powerful tool. But make sure you’re using curiosity to attract the right kind of customers for your business. Using massive amounts of curiosity will get you plenty of attention but it won’t do you any good if it doesn’t produce valuable customers.
Never sell a product or service, sell a concept. The benefit of the product is far more important than the product itself. So pay close attention to your positioning and unique selling proposition.
The incubation process is the power of your subconscious mind to use all your knowledge and experience to solve a specific problem, and its efficiency is dictated by time, creative orientation, environment and ego. After you’ve put together all of your notes and done your customer research, take a break. This will give your subconscious time to work through the problem and come up with the best approach for your copy. When you’re ready to start writing, let the copy pour out of you. Don’t worry about grammar or anything else. Your job is to get everything that’s in your head on paper. Editing comes later.
Copy should be long enough to cause the reader to take the action that you request. If you need long copy in order to sell effectively, use long copy. Some products don’t need long copy like a bottle of Coca-Cola. All people need to know is where they can get it, that it’s cold, and the price. But other products will need to take people through an entire sales process before anyone will be willing to buy. Use as much copy as you need in order to make the sale.
Every communication should be a personal one, from the writer to the recipient, regardless of the medium used. Your copy should be in the first-person. We don’t connect with amorphous “brands.” We connect with people. Make your copy personal so that readers feel like it was written directly to them from someone else.
The ideas presented in your copy should flow in a logical fashion, anticipating your prospect’s questions and answering them as if the questions were asked face-to-face. Each new claim should logically flow from the previous one. If you jump around between all sorts of different ideas, people will get confused and feel like you’re trying to trick them. Keep it simple by moving people from one step to the next.
In the editing process, you refine your copy to express what you want to express with the fewest words. The most important role of editing is to remove unnecessary words. This makes your copy more persuasive and easier to read. A lot of people skip this step and end up with rambling copy that doesn’t get great results. The best copy has been edited and refined countless times.
The more the mind must work to reach the conclusion successfully, the more positive, enjoyable or stimulating the experience. You can’t just grab people’s attention, throw out some basic copy, and hope for the best. You need to engage people and get them to form their conclusions with you. If copy is too obvious, people will feel dumb or bored. Then you lose them. Build some intrigue into your copy.
Selling a cure is a lot easier than selling a preventative, unless the preventative is perceived as a cure or curative aspects of the preventative are emphasized. People don’t care about prevention. They’re not willing to spend money to prevent a problem they don’t have yet. Cures on the other hand sell VERY well. Even if you have a preventative service or product, you want to position it as a cure instead of a prevention.
Telling a story can effectively sell your product, create the environment or get the reader well into your copy as you create an emotional bonding with your prospect. People love stories. It’s the single best way to communicate a message and persuade people. Whenever you get stuck and don’t know what to do with your copy, start with a story.
Those are the 17 key point, keep them handy and always adhere to their principles when creating copy. Next, we must talk about search engines.
You must understand that search engines are tasked with finding valuable content — but it must be what readers find valuable. So are you solving their problem, and giving them actional information to use right now? If you are, you will win the SEO battle and your content will become shareable by the viewers.