Creating content? You might relate to Marilyn.
Marilyn was feeling stuck. She created a website, sent around some social media posts, and attended some networking meetings. She was getting inquiries here and there, but so far they were not turning into clients.
“I’m not sure what to do next,” Marilyn said. “I’m wondering if I should sign up for a 6-month coaching program. Or work on my mindset. Or get this new course on social media.”
The truth is, for many of us, it’s tempting to throw cash at a business problem. We might buy a big program or a series of small offers that add up to thousands of dollars. We get new shiny software or graphics. Sometimes these investments bring great success; other times they just lead to great frustration and an emptier bank account.
Jumpstart Your Marketing By Creating Content
[Tweet “A good rule for a tough marketing challenge is, “When in doubt, write!”] Simply creating more content will give you an edge. When I created my first site I didn’t know any marketing rules. I just wrote … and wrote some more. And that led to my guideline …
When in doubt, write!Writing fills many functions. For instance:
- As you write your sales letter, you’ll get a clearer idea of what you’re offering. Often a brilliant-sounding idea doesn’t hold up when you try tried to tease out the benefits.
- Writing a blog post can help clarify your ideas.
- Telling a story from your customer’s perspective — the client’s backstory — will lead to stronger copy that resonates with your target audience.
Talking about your writing will help you dig into your marketing.
Often a single session with a copywriter will clarify your business challenges as you discuss your writing. Copywriters in particular develop a sixth sense for marketability. if your offers aren’t going anywhere, your sales letter needs to be shifted into higher gear … or you realize you need a totally different topic to make this work.
Here are 5 effective tips to write yourself out of a stuck place by creating content strategically.
(1) Creating content with a lead magnet (or a new one, if you’ve already got a giveaway). A lead magnet is a report, video or audio program that you offer as an ‘ethical bribe” to motivate website visitors to sign up for your subscriber list. For nearly every service business, growing your list will be critical.
As you create your lead magnet, begin with the title. You’ll be forced to think about what you target market really cares about – and that in turn forces you to ask two questions:
Are you in fact offering a service that your audience craves – something that solves a problem?
Does your website clearly demonstrate that you’re meeting these needs?
For instance, a website promises to “help you understand the way others interact with you.” That’s a potentially juicy benefit but you need to start with the problem it’s solving. Does your audience have difficulty with interactions in their personal relationships? On their jobs? With their own customers? How does this difficulty threaten to destroy their business, family or social life?
(2) Creating content with blog posts. Your blog helps you recognize whether you really enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re testing an idea, you discover whether you like this idea enough to sustain the offer on a long-time basis. When you start to lose enthusiasm – or realize your knowledge base isn’t quite as deep as it should be – often your first symptom will be bland, boring blog posts.
Even better, discover the benefits of guest posting. Find blogs that target your audience but perhaps reach a broader following. Research the needs of the blog host. If they accept guest posts, offer to write one. You’ll get a bio at the end, with a link to the lead magnet you created in Step #1.
When you choose this tactic for list-building and exposure, take time to research the common practices your target blog host will expect. From the host’s perspective, there’s nothing worse than getting a blind email from a total stranger, offering a new blog post as if it were a precious gift, deserving of great gratitude.
(3) Experiment with at least one new way to create content. You can repurpose blog posts as PowerPoint videos and then turn your video into slide programs via SlideShare. You can even create webinars or podcasts. Just pick one and become an expert .
[TWEET “Content develops a new life of its own when you find a new way to create it.”] You’ll view your business differently and who knows? You may discover that your audience responds well to this new approach, because tht’s whta they’ve always wante or because you’re creating a novelty effect.
Learning how to create better content tends to pay off in surprising ways: along the way you get a tighter grip on your target market and a clearer understanding of your niche.
(4) Experiment with at least one new style of creating content. If you’ve always written straightforward content, try storytelling. If you’ve written stories as “Once upon a time,” try dialogue. If your only story is your origin story or your rags-to-riches story, try a new plot.
Try writing with different voices. Try writing your message from different perspectives: as the authority figure or the “good friend.”
Just one caution: Be careful when you use humor. Humor has two potential pitfalls. First, it’s easily misunderstood; when you tell a joke in person, especially in a relaxed environment, you give listeners a context. This context will be lost when you present humor in writing, whether print or onscreen.
(5) Experiment with presenting your points graphically when you’re creating content. Browse through image websites to find graphics that symbolize your message or communicate your point. For instance, you can make a simple infographic at Piktochart. You can make it look more professional with a designer, possibly someone from Fiverr.
Get even more creative …
“17 Surprising Ways To Use Storytelling To Grow Your Business” – FREE download here.
Over to you …
How have you discovered new insights into your marketing by writing a blog post, updating your website, or writing copy for a sales letter? Share them in the comments section.
When I was teaching Marketing 101 to sleepy undergraduates, we used to talk about the way customers perceive differences between products and how they tolerated change. For instance, suppose you’re a car manufacturer. You want to change the design of the model you’ve been selling for the past 20 years.
But how much do you make a change?
It’s sort of like Goldilocks and those ill-mannered bears who invaded her home.
Too much innovation? You’ve lost them. On the Internet, you have just a few seconds to grab attention. You’re constantly reminded that, “A confused mind always says no.”
Too little? You’re viewed as a cookie-cutter solution or as someone who’s still stuck in an early business model.
The truth is, people like to categorize. When they hear about your service, they want to put you into a familiar category. When you’re new, you don’t fit into a category of service. But you can fit into your client’s pain point. And that’s where backstory comes in.
Often service professionals try to come up with creative names to describe what they do. Life Energizer.Creative Catalyst. Profit Maximizer Coach. These terms make it hard to start a discussion.
Sometimes the new offer fits a new need really well. For instance, corporate executives are now hiring publicists and agents for themselves. rather than wait for companies to assign them. They want to take control of their own careers. When your service reaches your market on this level, you can become part of a conversation easily: “I know someone who did that.” You might even get media attention, if you’re first to market with a highly desirable offer.
If your offer seems irrelevant, it won’t become a topic of conversation. I learned this lesson myself when I published my first website on the topic of relocation. My audience resisted.
Big discovery: People will hire planners for parties and weddings, but won’t hire a coach for a relocation that costs many thousands of dollars more. Logical? No: most of us can survive a bad party but if you move to a destination that’s wrong for you, you’re looking at years of misery.
The reality is, there aren’t that many relocation coaches. A lack of competition usually signals a thin market. More important, it doesn’t generate conversations like, “My relocation coach is better than anybody else’s.” The most important way to generate buzz is to get your audience to talk about their experience with you.
Eventually I learned to get people talking by focusing on their backstory.
What’s a backstory?
In his book Tell To Win, Peter Guber demonstrates the impact of a customer’s backstory.
A producer needed to get Alice Walker’s approval to produce her book, The Color Purple, as a stage play. Alice was the customer; the producer was, in a real sense, doing the selling.
Guber coached the producer to expect resistance. Alice had gotten a negative backlash from the black community after her book was produced as a movie. The producer needed to address Alice’s backstory — not directly, but with a new story.
Jack Dorsey, Founder of Twitter and Square, says their company spends a lot of time writing “user narratives.” These narratives read like a play: “They go to a coffee shop in downtown Chicago…”
Everyone can relate to the story at all levels from designers to those in “the business side of the house,” says Dorsey.
Business owners rarely have access to individual backstories when developing copy for websites and sales letters. But often you can identify common backstories, even without an intensive, high-priced research effort.
For instance, Christina Hills runs programs targeting prospects with backstories related to building websites. Those backstories have a common theme: high expectations followed by disappointing results. They go something like this:
“I’ve spent thousands of dollars on web design and have nothing to show for it but a ton of credit card debt.”
“The website looks beautiful but if I need to change one word, it’s going to cost me $65. Minimum.”
“My web developer disappeared, taking my passwords with him.”
And for my relocation service, I positioned my offer to fall under the umbrella of career change — a topic I care about even more.
Now, that’s something people will talk about.
“Did you know IBM stands for “I’ve been moved?”
“We just moved here. My wife got an offer she couldn’t refuse.”
“My company just moved me here and I hate it.”
Why Finding The Customer’s Back Story Helps You Generate Buzz
When offering a new service, it’s often difficult for your prospects to relate your offer to their pain point. They may not even be aware they have a pain point. But what’s on their mind? What will they vent about? You got it…their story.
In fact, you may have developed your business because you have a backstory that resembles your clients’ story. Your backstory may be your origin story — the story of how and why you founded your business and why you have so much passion for helping people.
How can you create content to motivate discussions that turn to your new offer? How can you explain your new offer in terms that will make sense to your market? Do you need feedback on some of your new-offer content? If you’d like to explore these areas, you might be a candidate for a one-to-one consultation. Click here to learn more.