Tag Archive | "Audience"

You Need Both of These Skill Sets to Keep Your Audience Coming Back for More

When I’m not performing my typical duties as Rainmaker Digital’s Marketing Technologist, I’m cooking up a storm in my kitchen. Amidst the rhythmic chopping of fresh produce, the clashing of pots and pans, and the roar of boiling water, I realized that my two roles have a lot in common. They both require a balance
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Quit Annoying Your Audience! Take 3 Simple Steps to Focus Your Content

Ever have a friend who tells stories that never seem to go anywhere? It sounds okay at first, then it spins off to a tangent about how they met their spouse, then we go into their first college dorm room, with a side trip to that deeply formative event that happened in third grade, then
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SearchCap: Google featured snippets, Bing Ads audience segmentation & link building

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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Capture and Hold Audience Attention with a Bold Proclamation

Quick Copy Tip

If you’ve studied copywriting, you know the purpose of the headline is to get people to click and start reading. And your opening copy needs to continue that momentum all the way to the offer or conclusion.

One way to do that is to make a bold, seemingly unreasonable assertion in your title or headline. A proclamation so jarring that the right person can’t help but keep reading, listening, or watching to see where you’re going with it.

As far as I can tell, copywriter John Forde (whose site tagline is, not coincidently, “Learn to sell or else …”) was the first to define the Proclamation Lead:

A well-constructed Proclamation Lead begins with an emotionally-compelling statement, usually in the form of the headline. And then, in the copy that follows, the reader is given information that demonstrates the validity of the implicit promise made.

This type of lead works for both sales copy and persuasive content. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Forde illustrates the Proclamation Lead with a direct mail report that is ultimately selling an alternative health newsletter. Written by Jim Rutz, the piece immediately startles and tempts the prospect with a bold statement:

Read This Or Die

Today you have a 95% chance of eventually dying from a disease or condition from which there is already a known cure somewhere on the planet. The editor of Alternatives would like to free you from that destiny.

The copy continues not by jumping to the offer, but instead by backing up the proclamation. In the process, the piece systematically removes the objections raised in the reader’s mind about the scientific validity of the bold assertions.

If you feel that example is a little too “direct marketing” for your audience, consider this from respected best-selling author Austin Kleon:

Steal Like an Artist:

10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

It’s the exact same technique for a completely different target market. The intent is to startle people interested in becoming more creative, while concurrently tempting prospects to further explore what Kleon means by “steal.”

The first example is copy designed to make a sale. The second example is content (a book) that is the product itself. But the reason why both “sell” is the same.

The key to these bold headlines and leads is the immediate emotional response provoked by the assertion. More importantly, that emotional trigger leads to immediate motivation to investigate further — and that’s what every copywriter aims to achieve right from the beginning.

That’s because implicit in the proclamation is a promise. In the Rutz and Kleon examples, you’re promised that you’ll learn about hidden cures to common diseases and the way creativity really works, respectively.

How do you come up with these types of bold beginnings? John Forde says they’re found via research, not conjured up out of the ether — and I agree.

For example, people often assume creativity comes from introspection, perhaps during long sessions of gazing out the window.

But if you research how artists throughout history actually work, creativity is much more about starting with something already out in the world — often the work of someone else — and making it into something new.

Austin Kleon discovered that truth, and then boiled it down to its shocking essence. After all, it was Picasso who famously said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.”

That said, the proclamation approach is not always the right one for every situation. For example, I could have titled this article:

Read This Unless You Want to Starve

But that would have been lame, so I didn’t. There are plenty of other headline and lead approaches that also work well, so that headline wouldn’t be accurate or appropriate.

If you find a counterintuitive truth that’s relevant to your persuasive aim, however, you might just see if you can turn it into an almost unreasonably bold assertion that works wonders. But remember, don’t steal specific copy approaches (in the artistic sense) unless you’re sure you can perfectly tailor them for your audience or prospect.

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3 Ways the ‘Cruise Ship’ Model Invites Your Audience Aboard

"We didn't feel like customers. We felt like family." – Will DeWitt

Recently, my wife and I went on our first cruise.

Even though we didn’t have an inkling of what to expect, we now have what we’re calling “Cruise Fever.” We plan on being repeat customers for the same cruise line — and wouldn’t even consider another.

Why?

It’s all due to the completely satisfying experience we had from the moment we stepped foot on the ship to our final moment aboard. The cruise line earned our loyalty by instantly pulling us in and retaining our attention in unique and entrancing ways.

Here’s how you can use the “cruise ship” model to help build your own loyal audience.

1. Provide top-notch customer service

When we arrived on board, we had so many questions.

  • Where is our room?
  • When do we eat, and what meals are included?
  • Where is the pool?
  • What should we do if there is some sort of emergency?

The cruise line understood that most people were going to have those questions, and they used that foresight to create an easy-to-read, but comprehensive, information packet.

But that was just the first day.

For the remainder of our trip, the cruise line continued its excellent customer service with friendly faces and warm smiles. They made us feel at home for the duration of our time with them.

We didn’t feel like customers. We felt like family.

If we ever needed something, we felt more than welcome to ask for it. Whether we were poolside, in our stateroom, or at the bar, the staff was polite and professional … without feeling “corporate.”

You should also anticipate the questions your audience and customers are going to have. By doing so, you can address them from the get-go and reduce any uncertainty first-time visitors to your site may have … which ultimately leads to more sales.

To implement this approach on your website, you could:

2. Offer a variety of content

From the moment we woke up to the time we went to bed, there was never a dull moment.

In fact, there were so many things to do, it was impossible to actually do them all in a single day. So, we had to pick and choose which activities were right for us.

Did I really want to sit around and play bingo? No, I would have felt a little bit out of place in that room.

Learn how to salsa dance? Ehh … I’m kind of clumsy with my feet, and I didn’t want to embarrass my wife like that.

Go watch some bigger-bodied men partake in a belly flop competition? Now we’re talking!

The point is, what appeals to some may not appeal to others.

To reach the highest number of potential customers, it’s wise to have a wide variety of content available on your site.

Mix things up a bit. Instead of just having a blog, consider adding other forms of content to your site like a:

Don’t give your prospects a dull moment that prompts them to look for someone or something else. Make it easy and fun to keep consuming your content.

3. Keep your guests full to the gills

It’s rare to find yourself hungry while on a cruise. There’s a buffet for both breakfast and lunch, and a nightly three-course dinner.

But it’s not just the quantity of the food; it’s also the quality, and trust me: this was top-notch cuisine.

You better believe that if the cruise line only had fast-food, we wouldn’t have been excited for each and every meal. Instead, due to the high quality, we found ourselves daydreaming from time to time about our next meal.

That can be the experience your audience has when you consistently create excellent content. They gorge on what’s in front of them and — as soon as their plate is clean — impatiently await more.

When you publish exemplary content that has your audience eagerly awaiting your next piece, you become their only reasonable choice.

Land ho!

The cruise line now has two recurring customers because of their excellent service, abundance of activities, and delicious meals.

By applying these lessons I learned while on vacation, you can create unforgettable experiences for your audience.

Now go … set sail and stand out from the competition.

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Try These Useful Suggestions to Build Your Audience

Try These Useful Suggestions to Build Your Audience

On Monday, our good and wise friend Andy Crestodina showed the difference between optimizing for search engines and optimizing for social shares. He also gives us a nice piece of advice about how you can get really crafty and do both.

Proofreading might not seem exciting, until the day you publish a post with the headline Making that Shit into the Next Phase of Your Career. Don’t let that happen; read Stefanie’s Tuesday post.

On Wednesday, Brian Clark reminded us that search and social get all the attention, but it’s email that pays the bills. He explains why email is the most important content distribution platform you have … and reveals that my favorite analogy for how to treat your audience has always given him the jitters. (Do you agree with him? Let us know in the blog comments! …)

And earlier today, I posted our Content Excellence Challenge prompts for April. These are fun, creative exercises we do together as a community. Both of the prompts are practices that will make your content better, and get you making more of it.

On The Digital Entrepreneur, Bryan Eisenberg shared his insights with Sean and Jessica on how to leverage Amazon self-publishing to find new audiences and customers. If you haven’t encountered Bryan yet, he’s a bit of a marketing and persuasion guru/ninja/Jedi/grand master … but the kind who actually knows what he’s talking about. He understands Amazon on a deep level, and the conversation is filled with useful suggestions.

On Copyblogger FM, I talked about some “mindset hacks” that really will help you Do All the Things … and the popular self-help advice that could do your success more harm than good. On Unemployable, Brian and Robert shared their thoughts about building that wonderful thing: recurring revenue. And on The Showrunner, Jerod chatted with David Bain about transitioning from podcasting to hosting live digital events.

That’s it for this week … enjoy the goodies, and have a lovely weekend!

— Sonia Simone

Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital


Catch up on this week’s content


the best content doesn’t win. the best promoted content winsHow to Optimize Content for Both Search and Social (Plus, a Headline Hack that Strikes the Balance)

by Andy Crestodina


Want to know how I find and correct errors in my own writing as well as every article we publish on Copyblogger?3 Proofreading Pointers, So Your Writing Isn’t Shared for the Wrong Reason

by Stefanie Flaxman


Not all aspects of your audience are equalA Surefire Way to Get Constant Traffic to Your Content

by Brian Clark


Content Excellence Challenge: April Prompts2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The April Prompts

by Sonia Simone


How to Use Amazon Publishing to Grow Your Online AudienceHow to Use Amazon Publishing to Grow Your Online Audience

by Sean Jackson & Jessica Frick


Kelton Reid on The Learn Podcast Production PodcastKelton Reid on The Learn Podcast Production Podcast

by Caroline Early


5 Mindset Habits that Actually Work5 Mindset Habits that Actually Work

by Sonia Simone


The Beauty of Recurring RevenueThe Beauty of Recurring Revenue

by Brian Clark


How Bestselling Author Greg Iles Writes: Part TwoHow Bestselling Author Greg Iles Writes: Part Two

by Kelton Reid


5 Steps to Hosting Successful Live Online Events5 Steps to Hosting Successful Live Online Events

by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor


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5 Writing Techniques that Stir Your Audience to Action

"You’ve got to stir something in them before they’ll do something." – Brian Clark

We all want a positive response to the content we work so hard to create. Not all positive responses, however, are created equal.

I’m reminded of this David Ogilvy quote from Ogilvy on Advertising:

“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product. When Aeschines spoke, they said, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, ‘Let us march against Philip.’”

In other words, if you’re looking for something more than “Great post!” comments, then you’ve got to prompt action. And that means you’ve got to stir something in the audience before they’ll do something.

Now, before we get to that, one easy way to get someone to do something is to simply ask. I’m assuming you’re already using calls to action, but if not, click that last link to read about those first.

Otherwise, let’s focus on what must happen before the ask. What we’re trying to stir is an emotional response.

It’s emotion that moves us to act. In fact, the Latin root for the word emotion means “to move,” because emotions motivate what we do. We don’t necessarily want to make them seethe with anger or burst into tears, though.

The goal is not necessarily to get someone to feel, but rather to want — and to act on that want. Here are several ways to accomplish that.

1. Vivid storytelling

Emotional responses come when we experience a message that corresponds with our existing beliefs. Appealing to the core values of your audience, how they view the world, and their expectations for the future is incredibly powerful — if you truly create an experience.

Dating back to the time of Aristotle, skilled persuaders understood the power of a detailed narrative. The key is that the story must be so vivid that it prompts a vicarious experience in which they can see the outcome of the story happening to them.

Here’s the beginning of a story that fueled a $ 2 billion(!) subscription promotion for The Wall Street Journal:

“On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both — as young college graduates are — were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.

Recently, these two men returned to college for their 25th reunion.”

Do you see the setting in your mind’s eye? Click here to read how the story progresses and see why it succeeded so wildly.

2. Ramp it up

Sometimes when we’re eager to prompt action, we’re tempted to come out of the gate swinging. High energy, high emotion — that’s what will cause the audience to latch on to our contagious enthusiasm and take action, right?

Not necessarily.

Skilled presenters, ranging from politicians to stand-up comics, know that it’s better to start low-key and build momentum as you go.

Persuasive content and copy are often referred to as a slippery slide. The goal of each and every sentence of your message is to keep people engaged the whole way down, gaining momentum along the way to the call to action.

And although the context is different, there might be no better example than Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963:

The speech was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century in a 1999 poll of oration scholars. More importantly, it inspired the huge crowd at The March on Washington to the point that the Kennedy administration felt compelled to advance its civil rights legislation in Congress.

3. Hold a unity rally

We all belong to various groups, ranging from nationality, to college alma mater, to favorite NBA team. Appealing to the tribal nature of an audience that’s part of your group naturally invokes emotion, while you also benefit from the powerful influence principle of unity.

Unity goes beyond simple similarities and liking, and instead reaches the point of shared identities. It’s inherently an “us against them” scenario, and if you want to mobilize the choir instead of just preach to it, you’ve got to communicate how “the others” present a problem.

It could be about how a competitor has chosen not to serve the needs of your group. Or how outsiders are belittling your tribe in a way that inspires action. It doesn’t have to be ugly, but it does have to motivate the group to stand together and move.

Sometimes, you can even use unity to inspire others to join the group. This happens because of another powerful, fundamental influence: social proof.

For example, one of our core values is that we believe that building your business or content marketing engine on someone else’s virtual property is unacceptably risky. When we rail against digital sharecropping, website owners flock to the comments to agree — providing powerful social proof for others to get on board with owning their own platform.

4. Be like Mike

Group identity is powerful thanks to our strong need to belong. Emulation works on the same emotional level when you position yourself as a role model to your audience.

Now, that might sound a bit arrogant, and it certainly can be. But if you’ve done the hard work of becoming a likable expert, your audience will naturally choose to emulate you in certain ways, or even desire to be like you.

Think of the whole “personal branding” movement. Everywhere you look, people are becoming micro-celebrities hoping to charge you money so you can be like them — and in many cases, it works.

That’s a little bit too on the nose for me. A smarter approach is to inspire your audience to do something with you, such as join a cause, contribute to a charity, or act in some other way that deepens the broader influence factors of unity, authority, liking, commitment and consistency, and social proof.

5. Show, don’t tell

This last technique is more of a “what not to do” tip that relates to the other four. It comes down to one of the oldest bits of writing advice around, which is to refrain from “telling” them why they should do what you want them to do while making your case, and instead letting the audience experience the realization themselves.

  • The story should be so vivid that they see themselves achieving the outcome.
  • The “ramp up” should spark the emotional response without explicit direction.
  • The realization that “they’re wrong, we’re right” should come from the group.
  • The audience should decide that they’ll emulate you before you ask.

On a related note, never telegraph the emotional response you’re seeking up front, or a natural psychological defense mechanism may arise.

Emotions are best triggered without revealing an upfront expectation.

It’s dangerous to proclaim a joke as hilarious before telling it, and it’s likewise bad form to lead with “Boy, is this going to tick you off.” In other words, don’t tell people you’re going to go on a rant, just begin and build to the rant.

Stir the win-win

None of these techniques are going to make anyone do something they don’t want to do. In fact, more often than not the desired action has to be in their best interest first and foremost, and yours secondarily.

In other cases, you may get some action thanks to the previously unmentioned principle of influence — reciprocity. If you selflessly and unconditionally give away something useful, perhaps they’ll do a favor for you in return.

You know, like sharing this article on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you! :-)

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Get Engaged to Your Audience and Customers

Get Engaged to Your Audience and Customers

Roses are Red

Violets are Blue

Valentine’s Day is Tuesday

Why is content marketing so hard?

Welcome to the week before Valentine’s Day! As it happens, it’s connection and engagement week at Copyblogger — and the content this week is all about how you can create a more profound bond with your audience.

On Monday we had a fun day, because we got to finally let you know about something cool we’ve been working on behind the scenes — StudioPress Sites. This new product was conceived and shaped based on our in-depth conversations with customers, and we’re super proud of it. If you’re looking to launch a new site with all the flexibility of WordPress — and without the irritating parts — check it out.

On Tuesday, Brian gave us an in-depth post about how to create content that deeply engages your audience. This is a meaty post, so plan on giving it your full attention and spending some time with it (and your caffeinated beverage of choice, if you choose).

And on Wednesday, Jerod talked about cognitive biases — how your brain is wired to work, whether or not you’re aware of it. He explained ethical ways we can use these biases to shape content to work with our natural tendencies, instead of against them.

Finally, a little earlier today we announced our Content Excellence Challenge prompts for February. These are community challenges we do together every month. This month, I’m giving away five copies of Jonah Sachs’s fascinating book Winning the Story Wars, which is stuffed with ideas about how to connect more closely with your audience … and persuade them to take action.

You can learn more about Winning the Story Wars on the Copyblogger FM podcast this week.

Hope your weekend is an excellent one, and I’ll catch you next week!

— Sonia Simone

Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital


Catch up on this week’s content


not just another wordpress siteIntroducing StudioPress Sites: WordPress Made Easy … Without Sacrificing Power or Flexibility

by Brian Clark


What you say is crucial. But how you say it can make all the difference.How to Create Content that Deeply Engages Your Audience

by Brian Clark


we tend to search for and interpret information in a way that confirms our preconceptions.5 Cognitive Biases You Need to Put to Work … Without Being Evil

by Jerod Morris


2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The February Prompts2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The February Prompts

by Sonia Simone


Copyblogger Book Club: Winning the Story WarsCopyblogger Book Club: Winning the Story Wars

by Sonia Simone


Creating a Productized Service, with Dan NorrisCreating a Productized Service, with Dan Norris

by Brian Clark


How Screenwriter and 'All Our Wrong Todays' Author Elan Mastai Writes: Part TwoHow Screenwriter and ‘All Our Wrong Todays’ Author Elan Mastai Writes: Part Two

by Kelton Reid


[Guest] Expert Tips for Conducting Better Interviews, with Krys Boyd[Guest] Expert Tips for Conducting Better Interviews, with Krys Boyd

by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor


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How to Create Content that Deeply Engages Your Audience

"What you say is crucial. But how you say it can make all the difference." – Brian Clark

Art Silverman had a vendetta against popcorn.

Silverman wanted to educate the public about the fact that a typical bag of movie popcorn has 37 grams of saturated fat, while the USDA recommends you have no more than 20 grams in an entire day.

That’s important information. But instead of simply citing that surprising statistic, Silverman made the message a little more striking:

“A medium-sized ‘butter’ popcorn contains more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with all the trimmings — combined!”

Yes, what you say is crucial. But how you say it can make all the difference.

How you say it is determined by your “who”

“Marketing succeeds when enough people with similar worldviews come together in a way that allows marketers to reach them cost-effectively.”

– Seth Godin

When you create a well-rounded representation of your ideal customer, what you’re really tuning in to is the way your people view the world.

And when you understand the worldview your prospects share — the things they believe — you can frame your story in a way that resonates so strongly with them that you enjoy an “unfair” advantage over your competition.

Consider these competing worldviews, framed differently by simple word choices:

  • Crossfitter vs. Gym Rat
  • Progressive vs. Snowflake
  • Businessman vs. The Man

These are extreme examples, and you can certainly cater to audience beliefs and worldviews without resorting to name-calling. For example, the simple word “green” can provoke visceral reactions at the far sides of the environmental worldview spectrum, while also prompting less-intense emotions in the vast middle.

Framing your story against a polar opposite, by definition, will make some love you and others ignore or even despise you. That’s not only okay, it’s necessary.

You’ll likely never convert those at the other end of the spectrum, but your core base will share your content and help you penetrate the vast group in the middle — and that’s where growth comes from.

Based on who you’re talking to, you have to choose the way to tell the story so that you get the conclusion you desire.

It’s the delivery of the framed message that keeps your heroic prospect on the journey so that their (and therefore your) goals are achieved.

The “how” is essentially the difference between success and failure (or good and great) when it comes to content marketing. You must tell a compelling story with the right central element for the people you’re trying to reach.

It’s all about the premise

When you think about how a story is told, you’ll hear people talk in terms of hooks and angles. Another way of thinking about it is the premise of the case you’re making.

As a term in formal logic, the premise is a proposition supporting a certain conclusion. Applied to content and storytelling, I use the word premise to mean the emotional concept that not only attracts attention but also maintains engagement throughout every element of your content.

In other words:

The premise is the embodiment of a concept that weaves itself from headline to conclusion, tying everything together into a compelling, cohesive, and persuasive narrative with one simple and inevitable conclusion — your desired action.

And yes, you’re telling smaller stories along the buyer’s journey that forms an overall empowering narrative. You’ll have a “big idea” that’s told one step at a time along the path.

The premise connects you to the emotional center of your prospect’s brain, stimulates desire, maintains credibility, and eventually results in the action you want.

This happens when you understand how to frame your message and overall offer to mesh so tightly with your prospect’s worldview that the “this is right for me” trigger is pulled subconsciously.

Of course, each piece of content reflects your core values and overall positioning in the marketplace. Here’s a famous example from the world of advertising.

Nike has one of the most powerful positioning statements on the planet, expressed in three little words — just do it. Beyond selling shoes, this is a way of viewing the world boiled down to its essence, which is why it’s so powerful.

Now, think back to Nike’s commercial featuring John Lennon’s song Instant Karma:

What’s the premise?

First, notice how you don’t see a logo or company name until the very end. In fact, the camera barely shows the shoes of the athletes. It’s all about the lyrics married to the visuals.

The first lyrical tie-in hits with “Join the human race.” Then things really kick in with “Who on Earth do you think you are, a superstar? Well right you are!”

And then the unifying chorus paired with images of athletic adversity punctuated with triumph, as John Lennon repeats, “We all shine on ….”

This individual promotion supports Nike’s overall brand positioning of just do it in a powerful, unique way. Did it resonate with everyone? Not at all … and I’m guessing that very same commercial today would be absolutely despised by a certain segment of the U.S. population.

But the Instant Karma clip did highly engage the people it was aimed at. Repeat this to yourself over and over:

The content you create is for a particular “who,” and no one else.

Let’s now look at a process for finding your how, both with your overall positioning and at each step in the prospect’s journey.

4 steps to creating your winning story concept

Great ideas are unique. There’s no formula for innovative ideas, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is selling the slickest of snake oil.

That said, great premises always have certain elements in common. It took me many years to understand that, beyond all the tactics, it’s the premise of the message that matters first and foremost.

The work you’ve done so far on who and what was the heavy lifting of the how. But to refine your content marketing strategy even further, here are four essential elements of a winning story concept.

1. Be unpredictable

The first thing you absolutely must have is attention. Without initial attention, nothing else you’ve done matters.

And nothing kills attention faster than if your prospective reader, listener, or viewer thinks they already know where you’re going. Beyond curiosity, a great premise delivers an unpredictable and unexpected element that makes it irresistible.

It all comes back to knowing who you’re talking to at an intimate level and what they are used to seeing in the market.

What messages are they getting from your competition? This is what you must use as the benchmark to create your own unique and unexpected angle that forms the foundation of your premise.

In this day and age, you might have to dig deeper for a new and unexpected message that startles or downright fascinates people. A creative imagination combined with solid research skills help you see the nugget of gold no one else sees.

Part of why people tune things out is a lack of novelty, which makes even a previously desirable subject matter mundane.

Taking an approach that differs from the crowd can help you stand out, and that’s why unpredictability is crucial for a strong premise.

Just remember that things change. What was once unpredictable can become not only predictable, but trite. This is why being able to come up with a fresh premise is a valuable skill for anyone who creates content or markets anything.

2. Be simple

One of the fundamental rules of effective content marketing is to be clear and simple. Because a premise by definition is an unprecedented and grand idea, sometimes boiling it down to its essence is difficult, or worse, neglected.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to water down your big idea to the point of stupidity.

That defeats the purpose.

What I’m saying is you’ve got to make it so simple and clear that it travels directly into the mind of your prospect, so he begins to tell himself the story. Your copy must guide him and inspire him, not beat him over the head.

So, you’ve got a grand premise that’s unpredictable and destined to shake up your market. Reduce it to a paragraph.

Now, take it down to two sentences.

Get it even shorter.

Just do it.

At this point, you may find yourself with a great tagline. At a minimum, you’ve now got the substance for the bold promise contained in your primary headline.

3. Be real

You’ve heard that in this day of social media, you’ve got to keep it real. Speak with a human voice. Be authentic.

Be you.

You also hopefully know that social media hasn’t changed the fact that it’s about them, not you. In fact, it’s more about them than ever.

How do you make that work? What makes a premise real to the right people?

First of all, your premise must be highly relevant to your intended audience, while also being directly in line with your core values. Without relevance, you can’t inspire meaning. And it’s meaningful messages that inspire action.

Meaning is a function of what people believe before you find them. As we discussed earlier, what your ideal customers believe reflects how they view the world, and your content has to frame that view appropriately to be effective.

As a function of belief, meaning is derived from the context in which your desired audience perceives your message. That context is the heroic journey of the prospect, with your brand serving as a guide.

There’s another aspect of being “real” with your content. Your messages must communicate meaningful benefits that are also tangible. This is the second important aspect of an authentic premise, and it’s critical to help your prospects understand and connect with your message.

In this sense, tangible means real or actual, rather than imaginary or visionary. This is the aspect of your premise that is express, meaning the part where you tell the story in a way that concretely injects certain information into the prospect’s mind in a specific way.

Remember the Total cereal ad from the late 1980s?

“How many bowls of YOUR cereal equal one bowl of Total?”

You then saw stacks of cereal bowls filled with various competing brands, with one case reaching 12 bowls high.

Powerful, right?

Instead of saying something pedestrian like, “Total has 12 times the nutrition of the leading brand,” they showed you a tangible expression of the benefit. But it doesn’t need to be done with visuals to work.

Words alone are plenty powerful to paint a picture in the mind. Look at the opening of this article and the way Art Silverman explained the saturated fat content in a bag of popcorn. He took a dry statistic and brought it to life.

You’ll note that both examples contain the element of unpredictability and simplicity. But it’s the relevant and tangible expression of the premise that creates instant understanding.

Make your messages as real to people as possible, and you’ll create the kind of instant understanding that all truly great premises contain. But there’s one more critical element to a premise that works.

4. Be credible

If you’re writing to persuade, you have to hit the gut before you get anywhere near the brain. The part that decides “I want that” is emotional and often subconscious. If your premise doesn’t work emotionally, logic will never get a chance to weigh in.

If you flip that emotional switch, the sale (or other action) is yours to lose. And I mean that literally. Because our logical minds do eventually step in (usually in a way that makes us think we’re actually driven by logic in the first place). If your premise is not credible (as in it’s too good to be true), you fail.

That doesn’t mean hyperbole never works, as long as the prospect wants to believe you badly enough. That’s how some desperate people in certain markets are taken advantage of.

But belief is critical in any market and with any promotion, so credibility is the final key to a winning premise — people must believe you just as your premise must match their beliefs.

Remember, the more innovative your idea or exceptional your offer, the more you’re going to have to prove it. This brings us right back to an unexpected, simple, and tangible expression of the benefit in a way that’s credible.

Every box of Total cereal contains the cold, hard data about the nutritional content. Art Silverman’s popcorn claims were backed up by solid scientific facts about saturated fat.

The kind of proof any particular premise requires will vary, but the more credibility that can be baked into the premise itself, the better.

Now … put it out there

“I’m looking California, and feeling Minnesota …”

That metaphor is from the 1991 Soundgarden song Outshined, written by frontman Chris Cornell. He shared an interesting anecdote about writing those very personal words in a magazine interview:

“I came up with that line — ‘I’m looking California / And feeling Minnesota,’ from the song ‘Outshined’ — and as soon as I wrote it down, I thought it was the dumbest thing. But after the record came out and we went on tour, everybody would be screaming along with that particular line when it came up in the song. That was a shock.”

Instead of the “dumbest thing,” those are the most famous six words Cornell has ever written. In addition to being a fan favorite, the line inspired both a movie title and an ESPN catch phrase whenever Minnesota Timberwolves player Kevin Garnett was in the news.

Why did it work? Because with those six words, Soundgarden’s audience understood instantly what Cornell was trying to convey. He spoke to them.

And yet, what if Cornell had cut the line because “it was the dumbest thing?” I suppose that would have been unfortunate, because he would have missed out on a level of engagement with his audience that the rest of us would kill for.

The content marketing strategy we’ve been working through is putting you in the position to get things right the first time. You smartly spent a ton of time on your who, and then you outlined the critical points of your story by mapping the buyer’s journey and the customer experience.

The who and the what inform the how.

You might even be surprised at how easily the fresh ideas are coming to you now.

But ultimately, we as content marketers don’t know for sure what will resonate. Only the audience can determine that, so you’ve got to put it out there.

When the audience magic happens, you’ll know it.

For the rest of February, we’re going to be sharing our favorite tips and tactics for the how. You’ll be telling better stories, creating better analogies, and connecting with your audience at a deeper level than ever before.

The post How to Create Content that Deeply Engages Your Audience appeared first on Copyblogger.


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3 Ways to Become More Generous and Grow Your Audience

“What could you give your ideal prospect that would really improve her life?" – Beth Hayden

Giving to your audience is one of the foundations of any smart content marketing strategy.

To grow your audience and get better results for your business, it might be time to expand your content beyond blog posts, podcast episodes, or newsletters and find more ways to be truly generous.

The idea is:

Don’t hold back, don’t be stingy, and don’t cut corners. Just give, and give freely.

Looking to become a “giver,” rather than a “taker?” Let’s talk about why generosity works and how you can give your audience more value.

Why giving generously works

You might be thinking:

“How in the world does giving generously help my business grow?”

Generosity works when you’re marketing your business because it:

  • Pulls people toward you and your message. Instead of chasing down prospects and begging them to pay attention to you (with advertising or other traditional marketing methods), you attract your perfect customers and clients to what you give away. They come to you.
  • Establishes you as a go-to expert and trusted advisor in your field. When people know you are a giver — and they like what you give away — they recognize you as someone who can be trusted and relied upon.
  • Helps you get more referrals. Giving generously puts you in front of your audience regularly — which means they will remember your company name when they need (or someone they know needs) a product or service like yours.
  • Gives you the opportunity to interact without pitching. This one is big. If you don’t give generously, your options for conversations with your customers are limited to one extremely limited theme: SELL, SELL, SELL. That’s boring and aggravating for your audience members, and uncomfortable for you, too.

What to give away

Wondering what you should give to your audience?

There are the usual content marketing possibilities, like blog posts, videos, podcast episodes, webinars, and ebooks. These are all great choices.

Also consider giving:

  • Live presentations, or hosting group discussions and Q&A sessions
  • Short consultations, if you’re a service provider
  • Introductions to other helpful people in your community (or in your strategic partner network)
  • Advice and support in social media groups, like Facebook or LinkedIn groups
  • Lists of recommended resources, tools, websites, and blogs

Think about your perfect client or customer and ask yourself:

“What could I give her that would really improve her life?”

With some creativity, you’ll be able to create high-value resources that don’t hurt your business model.

The three methods below will help you become extraordinarily generous.

1. Don’t err on the side of caution

Chris Garrett’s article, How to Decide Which Content to Sell and What to Give Away for Free, answers a lot of common questions about this topic.

The entire article is helpful, but what I like best about the post is that Chris advises content marketers to not be concerned about giving away too much:

“People worry about this issue of which content to sell and what to give away for free.

And yes, it involves a lot of subjective judgment.

But the good news is that I have yet to find someone who has given away too much.

I don’t believe it is possible to be too helpful or too generous … provided you manage your time and energy, and that people know you are in business.”

Don’t be afraid to give generously on a regular basis. No matter how much you give away, there will still be people who need implementation advice or additional products and services.

Before you sell to your prospects, they must see you as an authority — and giving freely helps you achieve that.

2. Try content curation

Your prospects — regardless of what niche or industry you’re in — are most likely swimming in a giant river of content. They need someone to help filter out the noise and gather the best resources, tools, and content on a particular topic.

That’s exactly what smart content curators do. They pick the most useful articles, videos, and podcast episodes on the web and compile them together into an easy-to-consume format (like a blog post or email newsletter).

When you publish your curated content regularly, people will learn to count on you as a reliable source of up-to-date, useful information, and you’ll become their go-to person for that topic.

Ryan Hanley’s weekly newsletter is a great example of how to practice smart content curation. Each week, Ryan sends his subscribers seven important articles on content marketing that he’s selected, along with a little insight of his own to help people understand and integrate the information in the articles.

For more advice on curated email newsletters (and a decision tree that helps you assess if curating content is right for you), check out this Copyblogger article and infographic.

3. Adopt a policy of generosity

Adam Grant, author of the extraordinary book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, said:

“Givers see interdependence as a source of strength.”

The way I look at it, we all want our businesses to grow stronger. If you adopt an attitude of generosity with your prospects, you’ll be positioned to grow stronger and more profitable.

Seek out opportunities to improve your prospects’ lives.

Always ask yourself, “Is this something my community would find useful?”

For example, you can shine the spotlight on a community member who is making great progress or collaborate with a strategic partner on a project that benefits your audience.

Gather your ideas in a computer file or notebook, so you always have a list of content options to pull from.

Become a radically generous content marketer

As content marketers, we already provide value for our audience members. But taking your giving game up a notch could help spark new breakthroughs for your business.

So ask questions. Pay attention. Stay open. And keep giving, over and over and over again.

Your prospects lives will improve dramatically, and so will yours.

Ready to discover what a winning content marketing strategy actually looks like?

Check out our new series that walks you through the Who, What, and How of focused and effective content marketing:

The Simple 3-Step Process for Creating a Winning Content Marketing Strategy

The post 3 Ways to Become More Generous and Grow Your Audience appeared first on Copyblogger.


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