Over the last few years, the way that people buy has changed.
When it comes to content marketing, the biggest shift is the move to self-education.
Right now, your customers are Googling, browsing social timelines, reading in-depth articles, downloading e-books, cheat sheets, and checklists, and asking questions to help them make more informed buying decisions.
In short, this trend means if you’re NOT publishing information – you’re harming your sales (and your expert positioning).
Now it’s not too late to jump on the content marketing train. You see, a lot of business have responded to this shift by creating any old content – especially because Google rewards businesses who regularly update their website.
So the secret is to create quality content that serves a purpose, expresses your personality, and gently nudges prospects along your sales journey.
In short, if you can:
- Stimulate helpful, friendly, non-pushy conversations and interactions
- Answer your customers’ pressing questions
- Inspire, educate, and inform your perfect WHO
- Showcase your knowledge, experience, and know-how (without showing off)
- Be a trusted, authoritative, likeable resource
Do all of this, you can position yourself a a knowledgeable, helpful expert – and more importantly, you’ll boost your chances of making the short-list when your customer is ready to buy.
So how can you create content that gently nudges a stranger into a customer?
Let’s explore how content aligns with the six stages of your Pioneer Sales Journey…
Step 1: Identify the Right WHO for YOU
If you want to create content that nudges a stranger into a customer, you need to know your perfect WHO.
Without a clear customer avatar, the risk is you’ll write for a generic everyone, which means your writing will appeal to no one. When you have a clear understanding of the people who you can best serve, you can write for that specific someone. And the result? Your message becomes more relevant, more interesting, and more compelling.
So before you write a single word, invest the time needed to get up close and personal with the right WHO for you.
Here’s a nifty customer avatar template to help.
Step 2: Awaken your audience
When you know your WHO – intimately – you can create content that attracts the right attention and wakes up your ideal customer.
Here’s how your content can become a great conversation starter…
Not everyone is ready to buy right now. As a result, your sales message is going to fall on a lot of deaf ears. Whilst you can influence the timing with offers and the quality of your pitch, if the time is wrong, nothing you do or say will persuade an individual to take out their wallet.
That said, there will be many more peel who will be more than happy to read ‘non-salesy’ information – if it’s perceived to add value in some way.
And thats where content in the form of blogs, articles, info graphics, and podcasts can become valuable business assets. If you stand up and share your perspective in a useful, authoritative, value-added way, you’ll earn that all-important attention. And in this noisy, information overlaid, competitive space, attention is arguably of the most valuable business assets of all.
After all, if you can become a customer’s trusted source of information, imagine the longer-term impact on your sales…
I’ve noticed a trend recently. People (that’s your prospective customers) are tuning out. They’re becoming more selective as to the people they want to read and receive content from.
If you;re anything life me, you’ll have unsubscribed from mailing lists as late – and so too have your customers. We’ve become more savvy. We know if you sign up for a freebie, you’re going to receive flood of emails. But the good news is if you earn ‘trusted status’, your voice could become the one that your customers turn up, while switching others off.
Step 3: Capture their Details
It’s not enough to have an audience – you need an audience that you can monetise. After all, if you can’t make money from doing your thing, you don’t have a business (and your impact will be massively reduced as you won’t have the funds to make a difference).
Enter your lead magnet…
Essentially, your lead magnet is information of high perceived value hidden behind an opt-in form. The deal is that you exchange this valuable content (which should be good enough to sell) for an individual’s name and email address so that you can continue the conversation through personalised follow-up.
lead magnets can take many forms. Here are five examples from Gem Writing:
- Free checklist – my leaflet creation checklist outlines the things to check before you distribute a leaflet
- Free training – 30 Days of Copywriting Love offers a daily tip for building relationships through words
- Free ideas – my upcoming 29-blogging ideas guide is chock-full of angles to help business owners create interesting blog posts
- Free e-book – my non-writer’s guide to copy that sells is full of copywriting techniques and ideas that will sharpen your message
- Free poster – my words that sell pin-up contains 15 ideas to enhance your sales message
When someone joins your list to get their hands on your freebie, they take a micro-committment – because they have to fill in some details to get their hands on this desirable information. As such, your lead magnet nudges a prospect that little bit further along your sales journey.
But that’s not enough… ideally, you want your subscriber to consume or use your freebie in some way. Thats because your lead magnet should be a demonstration of your personality and your expertise. You should allow your subscribers to get a feel for what you can do (and how you can help).
So why does this work?
Remember how people’s buying habits have changed… if your content (and your style) enters the conversation while your prospect is in discovery mode and is self-educating, you’re on the radar in a helpful, ‘non-salesy’ way.
And when the conversation turns towards a sales decision, you’re more likely to be on the short-list.
One more thing before we move onto step 4…
It’s NOT your customer’s job to remember to do business with you. That’s yours. Your customers are stumbling upon new information each and every day – so how do you ensure your site and your offer isn’t forgotten?
Once someone is on your list, you can maintain and shape a conversation through follow-up. It’s the difference that makes all the difference.
Step 4 – Make a sale
A significant change in your relationship with a prospect happens when they become a customer – and that’s the next step when an individual has joined your list.
That first sales transaction is arguably the hardest to secure. After all, you need someone to part with their hard-earned cash. As such, they need to trust and believe in your promise before money changes hands.
The good news is your free content will lay the groundwork as it helps to establish your know, like, trust factor.
The next step is to make that first sales transaction as easy and risk-free as possible.
Lots of people offer a tripwire. This is simply a product/service with a high-perceived value, but a very low cost. Ryan Deiss over at Digital Marketer does this brilliantly. Alternatively, give new customers the opportunity to invest in a taster of what you do. For me, blogging is a good entry route. Customers ask me to blog, and often this extends to include other projects when they discover we’re a good match.
When it comes to using content to drive this initial sale, here are a few ideas:
- Dedicated sales pages
- Leaflets are great for promoting a specific offer
- Direct mail can put your offer into the hands of a target customer (via the less competitive letterbox)
- Email marketing can put your offer into a prospect’s inbox for next to nothing
Step 5 – Upsell to a premium offer
One a customer has made their initial investment, the next step is to encourage them to spend more and at a higher level.
This is where your big ticket items fit in such as masterminds, big ticket courses, premium products, and one-to-one consulting. Premium offers will help you to distinguish your best customers from your list – these people are likely to be your most passionate supporters and the people who will buy your highest level stuff because they believe in what you offer and understand that you can help them to get results.
Here are three upselling techniques you can explore:
- Thank-you pages – once a customer has purchased one thing, offer them something else on your automated thank you page
- 52-week email campaigns – weekly emails that nurture your relationship and keep you top of mind whilst periodically inviting readers to invest in something new
- Case studies and success stories – give new customers an insight into what’s possible through the eyes of your existing customers
Step 6 – Nurture a long-term relationship
The final stage of the Pioneer Sales Journey is to nurture your relationship and encourage a customer to buy from you again, and again, and again. After all, the more frequently an individual buys, the more their average lifetime value grows.
This final stage is all about staying in touch – but not just because you want to sell more, but because you genuinely care about your customers and you want to continue adding value. And that’s where content such as printed newsletters, e-newlsetters, and weekly, value-based emails fit into your content strategy.
Remember, people like to feel as though they’re in control of their buying decisions. Of course your offers, marketing, and content can influence the timing, but there’s a big difference between a pushy sale and a welcomed sale.
What’s more, the type of sales approach you take will also impact the relationship you have with your audience.
As you know, I strongly believe in relationship-building content.
Of course sales material is important too. You can’t do your thing for free.
But you can still sell without being pushy. There’s a link back to your positioning here too… when you’re seen as an expert authority, your audience will WANT to buy from you. In effect, your relationship-building efforts begin to pay off.
Walk the path…
As you can see, content is the fuel that drives the Pioneer Sales Journey.
And for best results, it pays to strike a careful balance between relationship building, authority positioning, and sales driving. Because that’s how your business will grow.
In total, there are at least 27 different types of content, which you can use to nurture a prospect through your sales journey.
Each of these are outlined in more detail in my new Pioneer Content course, which launches early June.
This interactive course is for business pioneers who want to make a difference. Over 6-weeks, I’ll walk you, step-by-step, through the process of creating a content strategy that communicates your message (with personality and purpose) and allows you to build and nurture the relationships that lead to a sale.
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