Would you propose on a first date?
Of course not, but that’s how many businesses approach sales. You get a lead and immediately start asking for the sale.
In this episode of the Building a Story Brand podcast, I sat down with Brian Clark of Copyblogger to talk about a better way to approach sales — with a strong content marketing strategy.
Here’s the basic three-step plan you need to follow. But to be honest, Brian is a pioneer in this space, and wisdom just pours out of the guy. I can’t squeeze it all in here, so make sure you listen to the entire episode.
1. Start With Generosity.
For years, the whole concept of content marketing was counterintuitive to me.
You spend your time and money creating a resource featuring valuable information you could easily charge for … and then you just give it away for nothing but the cost of an email address.
When we first started sharing content for free, I thought, “Why aren’t we selling this?!”
But here’s what happens. I’ve seen it over and over again.
When you give people something valuable for free, they’ll trust you. And over time, that trust creates a relationship where people want to buy from you.
As Brian says, “You’re not ramming it down someone’s throat like a sales letter. It’s more of this media approach where they are gaining more and more valuable information over time with you. It’s an amazing catalyst for people wanting to choose you to do business with.”
If the free stuff helped me, they’ll think, then the paid stuff is going to blow my mind.
2. Understand Your Customers’ Struggles
You’re only being generous if you’re giving away something of value.
Creating value is key when you consider what content to offer. To do it right, you need to understand your customers.
Frankly, it’s more than understanding them — it’s developing empathy for them. It’s getting in their heads. It’s checking your own assumptions at the door and listening in earnest to where your customers are struggling.
Brian told me it’s the place where the battle is won and lost, saying, “The worst thing we do is assume that people are like us when in many cases they are not at all.”
After all, we’re not businesses marketing to customers. We’re people talking to people.
In Brian’s words, “[It’s] a very personable interactive space in that people want to know who the real people are. Content is a great way to let that shine.”
So, how do we do this?
A simple way to get to know your future customers is to survey your existing ones. Ask them for the basic stuff like age and gender, but dig deeper. Find out what they’re trying to overcome and why they chose your product or service to help them. Include a few questions with open-ended response boxes so you get feedback in your customers’ own words.
In the full episode, Brian walks us through two additional processes you can go through — empathy mapping and customer experience mapping. If you do either of them today, they’ll be the best few hours of work you do this week.
When you have empathy for your customers’ pain, you can show them how to overcome it — with your help, of course. If you’ve done it right, your content is going to feel irresistible.
3. Position Your Product
Moment of honesty: we’re eventually trying to sell something with this post and podcast. Once you scroll down, you’ll see it. It’s the StoryBrand Live Workshop.
So, if you read that last section and felt the pain of not knowing who your customer is, that was the whole idea.
Because when we pitch the StoryBrand Workshop later, we’ll tell you it’s a proven framework for understanding your customers’ struggles.
That’s the point of effective content marketing. It helps you position your product.
As Brian says, “Your content is a catalyst for your ultimate business objective.”
If your content is valuable and speaks to those pain points, you’re going to attract a highly qualified following. Don’t hesitate to boldly ask for the sale. People are going to be ready and downright excited to do business with you because they already like you, know you, and trust you.
I’m so grateful to Brian Clark for sharing his insights with us. If you know it’s time to start or improve your content marketing, but you’re not sure what to do next, this episode will take all the mystery out of it. Check out the podcast and you’ll be ready to grow your business with top-notch content marketing.
Podcast produced by: Tim Schurrer
Additional editing by: Nick Jaworski