It remains an elusive element in the online sales and marketing efforts of so many professionals I talk to and observe each week.
You cannot avoid it, not if you want to bridge the gap between claiming authority and actually demonstrating it online.
(And, rest assured, far more people are claiming they are an authority as opposed to actually proving it these days.)
It's call Content Marketing, and I want to spend the rest of this post explaining how it works, why it's so effective and the best way to use it in your own sales and marketing efforts.
How Content Marketing Works
The simplest and easiest analogy is this: Content is like bait. When you go fishing, you're looking to catch fish, and to catch fish you need bait.
The same concept applies online - especially on a professional platform such as LinkedIn, which is where I spend my time teaching others how to find (and sell to) their ideal prospects online.
Similar to catching the attention of a hungry fish in the water, your online "bait" needs to look good, appeal to a core desire and/or meet a pressing need.
Also, when you go fishing, you use certain types of bait to catch certain types of fish. The same is true with Content Marketing - certain types of content appeal to certain types of audiences.
Content Marketing in Action
For example, let's say I want to sell video marketing services to Small Business Owners. Using LinkedIn, I can find and message Small Business Owners that I'm connected to and have tagged as prospects inside of LinkedIn.
But, rather than just sending a message saying, "Hey, do you need any video marketing help?" what I do is I send them a message inside of LinkedIn that says something like this:
Hello [NAME]! Hope this note finds you well!
I thought you'd find this interesting. I wrote a new post here on LinkedIn called "3 Ways Video Marketing Can Help Small Businesses Increase Revenue."
Here's a link: [INSERT URL]
Can't wait to hear what you think of it and talk more soon!
- John Nemo
Think about it: What Small Business Owner doesn't want to find ways to increase revenue?
And, notice, nowhere in that note is a sales pitch or "ask" of any sort.
Rather, I'm simply offering some free tips/content first, to demonstrate I'm an authority when it comes to video marketing for Small Business Owners.
Now, it is very important that you actually deliver on the promise of your headline. Create a helpful post! Give the reader some actionable advice or tactics he or she can immediately take to increase revenue.
Turn Content into Conversions
At the same time, you want to use your content as a marketing tool to reel in new prospects.
It's bait, remember?
Ideally, you want your prospect to read the post and say to himself or herself, "Wow, yeah, those are some great ways video could be helping my Small Business make more money. And oh, by the way, the person sending me that link happens to be a video marketing guy who makes videos for Small Businesses. I liked the sample video he included in the post. I should find you what he'd charge to do one for me."
Also, because content is currency, you've used yours in this instance to "purchase" the time and attention of a prospect online.
That means once a prospect has consumed your content, you can ask if he or she wants more.
Online, an easy way to do this is by putting a specific Call to Action (CTA) at the bottom of each and every piece of content you create.
It might be an invitation to a free webinar you offer, an invite to jump on the phone for a free consultation or something else.
Whatever your CTA is, it must move the person further and deeper into your sales funnel.
And remember - whatever "ask" you make with your CTA should be in direct proportion to the amount of trust you've built up to this point.
If you shared a short, simple blog post with a few useful tips, it's probably not the right time to ask someone to buy your $5,000 coaching program.
It is, however, the right time to invite him or her to a free webinar, or a free consulting session, or to download free eBook with even more detailed tips on that topic, etc.
See how it works?
The more your content helps someone, the bigger your ask can be.
Reverse-Engineering Your Sales Pitch
The best way to create content that sells is to reverse-engineer what is normally a sales pitch or a sales letter. Take the nuts and bolts of that product or service you offer, and instead put it into the form of helpful content - like a "How To" post, a Case Study (using a client testimonial, for example), or a quick training video.
Content doesn't lie. You either know your stuff or you don't. You either have helpful, actionable advice that helps your target audience solve a problem, or you don't. You can't hide behind wild promises and hype-filled sales letters.
Even better, people are already pre-sold on you based on the free content you share before you even offer a paid program or service.
Best of all, Content Marketing is not as hard as it sounds. With today's tools and technology, anyone can create training videos, webinars or even write blog posts without typing a single word.
Bottom Line: If you want more business, create better content. Then utilize a platform like LinkedIn to find the people who will benefit from it, and start fishing!