I've a secret to share with you.
If you listen closely, it could change your business dramatically.
It could take you from struggling to soaring... but you can only hear it if you STOP for a few minutes.
I'm not making wild claims here -- or throwing out hooks to get your attention only to let you down with a thud.
If you'll join me long enough to read this article (about 7 minutes), I'll show you a simple system for finding content your fans want.
And when you deliver THAT KIND of content you get better results from your hard work.
For a bonus, I'll even give you a tip on how to get more of the right content scheduled in a whole lot less time.
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How to Find Content Your Fans Will Love!
Copywriting legend Gary Halbert often challenged his students with this scenario:
You and I are competitors -- we live in the same city, and we both own a hamburger stand. Suppose we decide to hold a contest to see which of us can sell the most burgers in one day. Of all the possible advantages you could have, which would do most to help you sell more hamburgers and win that contest?
Students would fire off their answers:
- Location -- I want mine outside a huge office building or by a construction site or on the midway at a county fair
- Quality of meat -- give me grass fed organic Angus beef... quality meat that makes your's taste like cardboard
- Advertising -- flashing lights, a huge sign, music, the best copywriter around to write my ads
- Staff -- a chef who makes the tastiest burgers anywhere and order takers who are helpful and happy
- Price -- my price beats yours by a buck or more a burger AND I can take plastic for pay
After the ideas simmered down and his pupils were all in, Halbert would respond curtly, "I would want just one thing: A starving crowd."
If you don't know what you're looking for, you'll probably find something else
First, let me ask you something crucial: Would it benefit your business if you found a starving crowd?
If you work for others -- would helping your clients or employer make more sales potentially lead to earning more money for yourself and your family?
Don't rush past this first part. It's critical stuff.
Without a grip here, you won't have a grip further down the line.
You see, the first step to finding content your fans will love is to KNOW what kind of content that would be!
If that sounds too simple, maybe your thinking goes like this:
I've been through several customer persona exercises. I've conducted online surveys and sat in on way too many webinars. None of that has given me any real insight. I don't need anything but common sense to tell me what my audience is hungry for: They want lower prices and give-aways!
Let's challenge that thinking.
Let's consider a new approach to locating and serving your starving crowd.
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Is a social media presence really worth the investment?
You've probably noticed this, if you've been in business for long: The number of visitors to your Page is considerably higher than the number of conversions you get there.
The truth is that many businesses don't even HAVE a conversion goal to measure.
Success is gauged by how many fans, likes and shares the Page is getting (often a quick path to disappointment and despair).
Remember: If you don't know what you're looking for, you'll probably find something else.
From the beginning, business owners and executives have wanted to quantify social media ROI. Like every other expenditure in a business (a successful business) the crucial question is "Does this expense help me make a profit?"
For the small business, that's an even more important question. There are precious few resources to begin with -- and certainly none to waste. The money and hours invested in social media management MUST be justified.
You can do that by making your social media presence a part of your sales journey.
For example, maybe you want visitors to sign up for your newsletter, download your ebook, click over to your website or landing page... there's a plethora of possible goals that could be established on your page.
And when the action you are offering (and measuring) is the next step towards someone becoming your customer or client... you're now able to put a dollar value on the action.
That enables you to better manage the Page AND to justify its expense.
ALWAYS have a conversion goal you can measure.
The number 1 reason why your social media conversion rates are dismally low
This assumes you actually HAVE a conversion event to measure. (If you don't, re-read the last section and get one.)
Let's talk about audience.
Think back to Halbert's hamburger stand analogy.
You could set up a hamburger stand in an audience-rich location and still go broke if that audience isn't hungry (or isn't hungry for what you have to offer). Try selling all-beef patties at a convention for vegetarians, for instance. That would be a tough gig.
Not every visitor to your Page is a legitimate prospect. Some are there to do competitive research. Some are attracted to the contest you're running, are just 'wasting time,' or are doing some client mining of their own. And some are there to try to sell YOU something.
Here's the key to jump-starting a dismal conversion rate: Provide the kind of content your perfect prospect(s) want to see.
- Find out what they want
- Give it to them
- Provide a way for them to move one step further along your sales journey
For those who hate the idea of "funnels" and "targets"
Few people like being "sold to," and hardly anyone wants to be identified as a "salesperson."
(Even though a sales pro can earn way better pay than a sales clerk.)
The truth is that we're ALL IN SALES every day:
- Maybe you're trying to sell your team on a new idea
- Maybe you're hoping to sell your child on heeding your instructions
- Perhaps you see someone headed for disaster, and you want to sell them on listening to your counsel
Sales and selling are entwined in our lives. It's not WHAT we sell, but HOW we sell, that determines whether or not we are engaged in an honorable pursuit.
Deception and manipulation, for instance, are never appreciated.
Some find it tough to set a heartfelt sales strategy and still use words like "funnels" and "targets." They want to treat people with respect. They don't see targets painted on wallets, rather they see opportunities to help others solve problems.
Nor do they view marketing as pouring a never-ending stream of prospects into the top of a funnel, hoping a few will survive the arduous trip to the bottom.
Rather, they see sales as a relationship walked WITH the customer or client... and the most important work as coming AFTER the sale, not before it.
Here's an alternate way of looking at the sales journey. This is a template based on relationship. It acknowledges that sales is best viewed as circular and cyclical.
Visuals help me grasp concepts, so I used Creately (big shout out) to help spur my thinking.
This isn't business or industry specific:
There are 3 primary areas that need traversed during the sales journey, leading up to the sale:
The process begins when someone becomes aware of your product or service (Hearing).
That's the point where either their own self-talk or your messaging (and both in combination) must get that person to stop and Listen.
It's here that prospects are identified and the foundation for trust (or mistrust) is laid.
Sales journey clarification is the key to finding the right content
This article is focused on FINDING the content your audience will love, and we've begun by identifying the precursors for doing that.
You don't want just ANY audience, you want to find and serve that "starving crowd." You want the people who have plenty of reason to need and want your products or services -- and it's important to remember that does NOT include everyone who comes to your Page.
You see, "Hearing" is a rather mechanical function. Publish a post to your Page and it will be 'heard' by visitors.
There are innumerable ways to make sure your messaging gets in front of more and more people -- promotions, advertising, multiple broadcast points, repurposing content -- plenty of ways to increase the size of your audience.
You don't only want your post to be Heard, though, you want people to Listen. That's the next step along your sales journey.
Think about how YOU listen.
If you're like me, there's a brief period of time when your brain sorts incoming data to see whether or not you should pay attention -- and how much attention you should direct to the situation.
If you start talking about your grandchildren or vacation or the weather... and I have no vested interest in the topic (other than being polite), you'll get "Uh-huh" and "Oh, really!"... then I'll promptly forget what you said and keep moving.
If, however, you just lost 30lbs and feel better than you've felt in years (and I can see that's true), I want to know HOW you did it. You've got my ear because I desperately want to do that same thing. I'm your starving crowd.
The key to finding the content your audience will love, then, is to FIRST identify your REAL audience (potential buyers) and then to determine the type of topics and content formats THEY are hungry for.
A primary mistake marketers make is to gauge the value of content by personal evaluation.
What interests me may bore you to tears. If YOU are an ideal customer or client, though, I'd better be posting content YOU care about.
How to find the content your audience will care about
You probably know your mother pretty well... right?
If I show you a sweater, a painting or an article -- you could probably tell me whether or not your mom would be interested.
Sometimes she surprises you, no doubt, but you know her pretty well.
When you post something to your Facebook profile, you KNOW whether or not it's going to please your mom.
In marketing, your aim is to get to know those who are most likely to accept your offers (your TRUE audience) even better than you know your own mom.
You want to become intimate with your audience. You want to know them up, down, in and out.
It's a never-ending process.
Let's keep it simple: 3 Steps to Marketing Bliss
I know this article opens up a whole can of worms. There are plenty of points here to pursue. If you want clarification on a particular concept or have insight to share -- just let me know in the comments.
Here, though, is a cut-to-the-chase summary of how to find the content that gets YOUR audience (true prospects, remember) to LISTEN:
1. Create a subset of your current fan and visitor base: You want to observe the behavior of those who have actually BOUGHT from you. Not those who comment most or share most (they are important too, but in a different way), but those who are bonafide customers or clients.
2. Check to determine how past content has been received by THOSE people: Create a chart (sheet) listing every potentially significant differentiation you can observe in your content and in the audience. Title, topic and format are content differentiators for sure... but those can be extended to things like graphic or no graphic, colors, time of day and day of week. Don't skimp on these. The more effort you invest, the more return you will get. Audience differentiators include age, gender, occupation... there's no one correct list. Which differentiators apply to YOUR audience, that's the main consideration.
3. Make at least 80% of your posts fit the content you have identified. Use the rest to experiment. Rinse and repeat.
I said I was going to show you how to FIND that content... right?
Where's that part of the story?
There's a correlative to "If you don't know what you're looking for, you'll probably find something else."
When you do know what you're looking for, you'll see it everywhere!
Get a red sports car and suddenly everyone's driving red sports cars.
Once you've identified and defined the content your (real) audience wants (not necessarily the content YOU want)... it will appear.
- You'll see it in your email from the lists you subscribe to
- You'll notice it in the blogs you read
- You'll think of it when you're going about your daily business
When that content appears... add it to your list of content ideas (if you don't have that list, start it today).
To aggressively pursue content (or to get that list kick-started), there's a zillion tools and sites and ways: Typical suggestions include Alltop, Scoop.it, BuzzSumo and such.
You've a keyword list related to the things your buying audience wants to know about -- right?
Use it to search -- whether via primary search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo) or a site-specific search (the Alltop search box for instance).
Of course, if you really want to get serious about finding great content and saving a TON of time in the process... get up to speed with Post Planner.
Take the crash course and soar.
The Bottom Line on How to Find Content Your Fans Will Love!
In a way, we've reverse-engineered the job of finding content.
We began with the reader, not with the source -- and we tried to keep our own preferences out of the picture.
Back to your mom: When you get her a gift, do you choose something YOU would like (naughty child) or do you search hard to find something that would please HER?
It's the same with content for your business. You want material that will appeal to your BUYERS. That content can be entirely different from what appeals to you or even to the people who are quick to like and share it on your Page or blog.
Successful businesses cater to customers.
Your turn to talk. I'm listening.