What’s the biggest obstacle to effective content marketing?
Surveys consistently reveal that enterprises — large and small — feel that creating enough content is the biggest problem. But, I’m not sure that quantity is the real issue here.
The problem is quality. In other words, does the content that’s already getting created actually perform the intended function?
Quality online content marketing gets people to perform an action. Whether that’s social sharing, joining an email list, contacting a sales rep, or making an online purchase, people have to be persuaded to do something.
And, contrary to popular belief, persuasion is not about manipulating or tricking people. It’s about creating understanding.
- Your prospects need to understand the overall context in which their problem exists in order to best solve it.
- Your prospects need to understand the benefits of solving their problem in a particular way before appreciating the benefits of your product or service.
- And, often, your prospects need their perspective altered — from an educational standpoint — before committing to a purchase.
All three of these objectives can be easily achieved by simply increasing understanding — and you create that understanding by providing the appropriate context within your content marketing efforts.
Here are three ways to make that happen.
1. Don’t Miss The Forest For The Trees
Smart content marketing helps prospects understand the overall context involved in achieving what they want. Too often, businesses produce pieces of content with solid advice, yet lacking the proper context to make that advice truly actionable.
A good example of providing context can be found in my last column here at Marketing Land, The Mindset that Makes Online Marketing Work. That piece elicited a lot of “a-ha” moments by illustrating how content, social media, and SEO are part of one larger strategic process, rather than individual tactics that can somehow get you there alone.
It’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees with your content, because it’s easy to assume people understand things the way you do. They don’t, which is why they need your content, additional context, and ultimately your product or service.
One way to provide this crucial context is to develop cornerstone content around the topics people need to understand in order to do business with you. You can crosslink this cornerstone content from applicable pieces of content as you go forward, which enhances the usability of your site and helps Google better rank you.
Also consider creating a “big picture” resource that you can reference when necessary. Your prospects will better understand what you’re giving them with each piece of content, and your content marketing will be more effective.
2. Share The Benefits Of Knowledge
Smart content marketing helps prospects understand the benefits of solving their problem in a certain way. Simply understanding that you have a problem or desire is not the same thing as understanding the best way to deal with it.
Too often, businesses will use content to attract a prospect, and then immediately try to start selling the paid solution. People must first understand the benefit of doing things the way your solution operates, which means there needs to be an intermediate educational step.
In the context of selling your product or service, you take the features of what you’re selling and translate them into what that feature does for the buyer. But before you get there, you’ve got to express the benefits of doing things the way you advocate in the first place.
For example, I tell you that email marketing is still the highest converting online sales channel, and that building your list is still the central aspect of content marketing. And I educate you on how to do that within the context of a larger content marketing strategy.
At the same time, you’re wondering why you’re bothering with all of this other content and social media and SEO stuff. That means I also have to educate you on the incredible leverage and defensible position you create from taking that broader content marketing approach to building an email list.
3. Contrast To Change Perception
Smart content marketing alters the perspective of prospects so that they are more inclined to do business with you. You do this by providing contrast, because people naturally perceive facts in a relative comparison to other facts.
The power of perceptual contrast is amazing, because you can actually alter a person’s perception of those facts, and yet the facts have not changed at all. The technique works by getting into the reader’s head in such a way that a red light is switched to green.
Here’s an example: A company selling high-end hot tubs at $15,000 a pop contrasted the price of the tub with the cost of a room addition (which runs at least $30,000), thanks to customer feedback stating that the purchase felt like adding a room to the house. Sales increased by 500% with this simple contrast technique.
Another approach is to briefly mention a competing but less desirable approach to solving a problem — then go into great detail about the solution you want the reader to embrace (and one that aligns with your ultimate product or service). The contrast will make your solution seem that much more inviting.
A changed perspective is just a different way of characterizing a new understanding. Often the objections to buying from you can be eliminated by one illuminating shift in perspective.
Smart Content Marketing Empowers Prospects
Information is not knowledge. – Albert Einstein
Content marketing done poorly is the mere transmission of information. Content marketing done well creates understanding, and understanding leads to knowledge.
The statement “knowledge is power” may be cliché, but that doesn’t make it a false statement. When you empower your prospects with true understanding and knowledge, you knock down any remaining barriers and objections to doing business with you.
And that’s the goal, right?
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Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.