Content ultimately comes back to one thing: helping customers find you, then trust you… so they can buy from you. That means many of the principles of a fantastic sales page can be used to good effect with all of your content. It just means you have to remember why people consume your content and cater to that BEFORE you try to make the sale. Action 1: Never just sell in your content. The pop song the Colombian government used was no masterpiece, but it was catchy and entertaining enough to listen to, so soldiers had more chance of hearing it. It’s the same with content. The great thing is, there’s a huge crowd of #2 readers out there. If someone visits your video or blog post and likes what they see, they’ll happily open the door in search of more. When you reach the end of the blog, you can take advantage of a Fiverr discount… Action Wrap Just like the Colombian Government’s pop hit, your content can be catchy while carrying a hidden “conversion-centric” message. Educate, entertain… and then sell Don’t ever be boring Go deep into your subject Don’t hold your best stuff back Always include the next step Guest author: Dean Mackenzie is a copywriter helping businesses do more with their copy, especially around sales and landing pages, emails and funnels.
Throughout the long-running battle with revolutionary group FARC, hundreds of soldiers had been captured.
Some of these troops had been captive for years, and the Government was looking to get a message out not to give up or lose hope.
But how to pass a message directly to the soldiers without their captors knowing?
The not-so-obvious answer: a pop song.
Soldiers who’d been released or had escaped said one of the only freedoms prisoners enjoyed was the radio. If the Government could bury a Morse code message into a song that got regular airplay, the soldiers trained to decipher those codes would hear it while their ignorant guards would dismiss it as part of the tune.
So, one of Colombia’s top military communications experts, with the help of an enterprising ad executive and a music producer, created a song that ironically caught on in FARC-controlled regions of the country.
Importantly, the message was received loud and clear. The prisoners knew they hadn’t been forgotten, and spread the news with those who hadn’t heard it.
(If you want to find out the full fascinating story, you can read about it here.)
Content is more than just “content”
“Better Days” – the pop song that was a favorite of both revolutionary and hostage – was a very uncommon example of content.
It had a twin purpose: the obvious purpose of most music (i.e. entertainment and art) and a secret mission (i.e. to get the message to the soldiers).
Most content doesn’t have that.
And yet, we don’t create this content for the likes, views, shares or “gosh, that was amazing” emails. Content ultimately comes back to one thing: helping customers find you, then trust you… so they can buy from you.
And on face value, us folk in the marketing world generally agree about that. We know a blog post isn’t going to get the cash register ringing, but it’s an important step to attracting an audience down the funnel, into the flywheel or whatever customer journey model you subscribe to.
But when it comes to thinking about that content with the end in mind (i.e. buying from you), two things typically happen:
- We leave conversion-focused thinking at the door, not making the conscious link between our content and the role it plays in attracting prospects.
- We go too far the other way, making conversion-centric content that sounds like a thinly-veiled pitch (like a blog post that screams “10 Reasons Why Product X Is The Bomb”)
It doesn’t – and shouldn’t – have to be that way.
How to seed “Hidden Conversion” into your content
Just like the pop song, we can sow seeds of persuasive messaging into our content without being manipulative or “scammy”.
This is because that while content and sales copy may seem like opposites, they’re actually opposite sides of the same coin. That means many of the principles of a fantastic sales page can be used to good effect with all of your content.
Note: when we “sell” with content, we don’t mean persuading people to part with their cash. A conversion in terms of content might be as simple as a social share or email opt-in.
1. Educate, entertain… and then sell
Way too many reports, guides, blogs, and videos seem to be written as not-so-subtle sales pitches or “product comparisons”.
A sales page might get away with this to some extent (though a good sales page goes to the effort of making selling less obvious). Content is a different beast. When selling is the main element in a blog post, video or podcast, it turns readers off, never to return.
This doesn’t mean you have to throw selling in the bin. It just means you have to remember why people consume your content and cater to that BEFORE you try to make the sale.
And those reasons are generally:
- All of the above
If you can educate or entertain, you’ve delivered value, and more importantly, primed readers to be receptive when you ask for the opt-in, share or next step.
Take Robbie Richard’s blog post on getting to “Position #0” in search results. Sure, he might “break the rules” by making a short mention of his SEO course at the very beginning, but he’s careful to separate that from the actual blog, and then goes on to deliver a veritable truckload of educational value.
Action 1: Never just sell in your content. Make sure your first priorities are to educate and/or entertain readers.
Action 2: When you do sell, be up-front about it. Don’t sneak it in or hide it amongst the content. Your readers will spot it every time.
2. Don’t be boring
It’s a golden copywriting rule that applies in emails, sales pages, blog posts, videos, social media.
Boringness kills conversions.
It doesn’t matter where it happens. If your sales page is a tedious read, you’re not going to sell much with it. If your blog is a snooze-fest, people stop reading and disregard you as someone to engage, follow and build a relationship with.
The pop song the Colombian government used was no masterpiece, but it was catchy and entertaining enough to listen to, so soldiers had more chance of hearing it. If it had been a bore, it might have been switched off sooner and the whole enterprise a dismal failure.
“Not being boring” doesn’t mean you have to write in…