Content is king.
That’s the mantra anyway.
You know you have to produce good quality content in the hopes of generating new sales.
So you toil away for hours creating valuable content only to have it sit there on its lazy digital ass doing nothing. No new sales leads. No new sales.
Your articles are useful, in-depth, SEO optimized and full of great images but in terms of driving revenue, they just don’t seem to move the needle.
In this article, I’m going to outline the process of creating pre-sell content. That is, content that is both:
- Valuable to the reader
- Designed to generate leads and sales
Let’s get started.
Step 1: Target A Highly Specific Problem
If you’re reading this then I’m guessing you want to attract buyers as opposed to information seekers who are attracted to listicles and general topics of interest.
Buyers, on the other hand, are interested in solving very specific problems.
The reason why most content never moves the needle is that it fails to speak directly to that problem they desperately want to solve.
Take a look at your last 20 articles and see how many of them are “top 10” “best of” “upcoming trends” “talk about a general problem or benefit” etc.
Here’s a quick example to illustrate.
Here is an article designed to target sales managers get their under-performing sales reps to hit their monthly targets.
General topic idea
21 ways to close more deals
Buyer-specific topic idea
[Case Study] How this sales manager helped their worst sales performers increase their closing rate on average from 2 out of 10 to 7 out of 10.
Which of these two articles is likely to get the interest of a sales manager?
Obviously, you only want to target people who have the ability to buy your product or at least have the ability to greatly influence the buying decision.
What is the specific, dominant pain point that your target reader is facing?
Think about the inner-dialogue that person has with themselves regarding this problem and the ultimate flow-on effect of another day passing and not being able to solve that nagging problem.
- Identify your ideal buyer
- Write down that one specific problem they desperately want to solve
- Bonus points: Think about the inner-dialogue that is going on inside the mind of that reader
Step 2: Build Rapport
Building rapport is an important part of any sales interaction and one of the best ways to achieve this is to start off your article by showing them that you understand their problem as well or even better than they do.
Put yourself in their shoes and write out a few paragraphs talking about what they are currently experiencing.
Here’s an example for someone who suffers from a sugar addiction.
It happens every night at roughly the same time.
You finish dinner and get this “sugar pang”.
You casually walk over to the pantry and reach for your go-to sugary treat.
You’re not hungry…
You just feel like something sweet, plus it was a long day at work.
You sit down armed with your favorite treat, turn on Netflix and start watching a new show that your workmates told you was a must see.
The show isn’t bad you think to yourself, reaching down for another helping only to realize you’ve eaten the entire bag…again.
You feel a little guilty and begin to think about the negative affects this is having on your body and you think for a moment tomorrow night you’ll skip the treats.
When you open like this the reader is no longer “reading” they’re in that moment with you.
Now that you’ve hooked the reader it’s time to talk about the problem in a little more depth outlining all of the negative symptoms they are likely experiencing and the implications.
- What is the list of negative symptoms the reader is experiencing right now?
- How do those negative symptoms play out for them on an average day?
Step 3: Unmask The Villain (The Root Problem)
The goal here is to create an epiphany or new insight.
Here we explain that what the reader is experiencing are really symptoms of a deeper problem and until they can address that problem they will continue to experience their undesirable symptoms.
Then we demonstrate how that root problem feeds the undesirable symptoms.
For example, when you get sick you’re not experiencing the root problem directly, you’re experiencing the symptoms that the illness is producing like a sore throat, fever, headaches etc.
Your body can’t talk to you so it uses “signals” that let you know something is not right.
When you go to the doctor, his job is accurately to diagnose your condition based on the data you’ve given him and the testing he’s done.
This allows him to draw a straight line back to the root cause and prescribe the appropriate cure.
Cure the root cause and you instantly cure the symptoms.
To continue the example of the person who has a sugar addiction:
If you have an urge to eat sweet treats every evening you could have candida which is a fungus that has now overgrown inside your gut.
The insidious thing about candida is that it feeds on sugar so it actually hijacks your cravings by sending signals to your brain triggering the need to eat “something sweet”.
It’s not you that craves the sugar it’s the candida.
Cure the candida problem and your sugar cravings will disappear, weight will begin to fall off and your health risks will dramatically reduce.
Is it possible to cure candida naturally without turning to risky big pharma drugs? Yes.
Here we’ve identified the root cause of the problem and hinted at the idea of a natural cure.
- Identify the root problem that is currently invisible to the reader but now explains how everything is connected.
Step 4: Reveal The Hero (Unique Mechanism)
Now that we’ve educated the reader on the root problem it’s time to show them how to solve it.
This is the part almost every marketer misses.
At this point, most marketers would start selling their solution.
This is a mistake because chances are that you’re operating inside an incredibly competitive marketplace and your reader is likely aware of your competitors’ solutions.
Instead of selling our solution we’re going to sell the unique mechanism.
The unique mechanism NOT your product.
The unique mechanism is a component or process that positions your product as being different while also directly solving the root problem of the reader.
For example, let’s imagine I’m trying to sell coconut oil and I’m targeting people with a sugar addiction.
…There is a fatty acid called “caprylic acid” that actively seeks and destroys fungal matter, it does this by spearing holes inside the walls of the candida cells causing them to die off.
Notice here I’m not talking about my solution, there’s no mention of coconut oil – I’m only mentioning the unique mechanism.
The goal here is to get the readers buy-in on the unique mechanism because once they buy into that then it becomes easier for them buy into my solution which is coming up.
- What is the unique component, ingredient or process of your solution that the reader has never heard of that directly speaks to the root problem.
Step 5: The Solution
Here we want to show them how our solution works.
The key is to stay high-level that is not giving the reader everything they need to fix it themselves to complete the solution they need to purchase your product.
For example, I might talk about how my coconut oil contains higher concentrations of caprylic acid than other oils which help to kill candida cells 50% faster.
I might then share a delicious homemade smoothies recipes using my coconut oil as the key ingredient that not only kills candida but also satiates the sugar cravings.
I’m giving the reader almost everything they need to solve the problem all they need to do now is buy my solution.
Step 6: Convert
We’ve given the reader all of the information needed to take the next step which is to call our company or order from that page or capture them as a lead.
While working for a fitness educator we would use an SMS lead capture process to capture mobile numbers which we could follow up on immediately which worked incredibly well for us.
If we used a “call now” button we always used call tracking software to tell us where the calls were coming from.
Since the content had done most of the selling we didn’t need to run through an entire needs analysis we were just answering specific questions that weren’t covered in the article itself.
- Is imperative to use metrics that measure your content marketing effectiveness.
- Pre-sell content is a cross between education and selling which makes it ideal for capturing the attention of a buyer without looking like an obvious advertisement.
- Buyers suffer from specific problems are attracted to information that speaks directly to that problem while also hinting at a solution.
- The value the reader gets comes from gaining clarity on their situation by identifying the root problem and the unique mechanism that solves it.
Jo Stevenson is the marketing specialist for 160.com.au an SMS marketing company that helps businesses generate more sales and customers using text messaging technology.