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Creating Content That Converts Is Just Like Dating…No, Really!

October 9, 2013 - Posted by Angela von Weber-Hahnsberg

DateYou know how awkward that first date can be? Especially when it’s with someone who spends the entire evening talking about themselves, going on and on about how great they are, their amazing accomplishments, and all the incredible things they’ve got going on…

Yeah, that’s exactly how people feel when you constantly go on and on about your business in your company’s blog, emails, and social media posts.

Seriously. You may not feel like it’s off-putting – after all, you’re just telling the world what you have to offer, right? Don’t you need to get that message across, in order to do business?

Well, think about that date again. Would you go on a second date with someone who only talked about themselves, and never asked you to tell them your own story? ‘Nuff said.

Sure, you don’t mind your date telling you what they do for a living, what their interests are, and what their family’s like. And if they just happen to have won some award or gotten a cool new job recently, you’d expect them to be excited about that, and share that info with you, too. You expect to find all that sort of information out on a first date – and it’s probably really important to you to find it out, too!

But you also want a chance to tell them what you do for a living, and what your interests are, and what your family’s like – and if you’ve got exciting stuff going on, you’ll want to talk about that, too.  If the date is a monologue instead of a conversation, there won’t be a second time.

The same is true of the content your business puts out there. Of course you want to let people know what your business does – but there’s a time and a place for that; in most situations, having that information on your website and tossed into a blog or email every once in a while suffices.

Sure, let people know when you win industry awards, or land an incredible new contract.  What you don’t want to do is constantly bombard people with me-me-me content in your blog, your emails, and on social media all the time. Those are really mainly places for conversations, and content focused on helping your customer – not talking about yourself ad nauseam.

With that in mind, how do you create content that converts?

Well, it really is a lot like dating!

Imagine your ideal first date. You’ve both introduced yourselves, so you know the basics – job, family, interests, cool stuff going on. Now, what type of conversation would make you feel like this person was really something special? Someone who really understands you; someone you’d like to spend more time with?

I’m pretty sure it’d be a conversation where you do a lot of the talking, and they do a lot of listening – and responding to what you say with even more questions about you – right? C’mon, as much as we may hate to admit it, having someone hang on our every word is pretty irresistible, isn’t it? It’s only natural to like someone who is interested in you.

And that’s the exact feeling you want to reproduce in your blog, social media, and email content. (Sans the mushy stuff, of course – that would just be weird.) You want to make the people who read your content feel like you understand them, like all you care about is them and their needs. And you won’t be able to do that, unless you stop talking about yourself.

So, what exactly should your content look like? Let Marketing Zen be your wingman and guide you through your first date…er, I mean, writing effective content that converts.

1. Be flexible. Of course you’ll be starting out with an understanding of who your audience is and what you want to convey to them. But as you receive feedback from customers on your content, you need to be willing to adapt your strategy accordingly. Track data on all your content, and see how people respond to it – and then tweak it until it’s producing the results that you want. If your date starts yawning or checking their cell phone, you might want to rethink that 45-minute story about your amazing vacation last summer, and ask your date what they did, instead.

2. Do your research. If your date is a vegan who volunteers for PETA, you probably don’t want to go on and on about that time you bagged a 10-point deer. Find out what your audience is into, and what their life is like. Once you have a clear picture of who you are talking to, you’ll be able to create content that speaks to them. If you get to know them, they’ll be more likely to want to get to know you.

3. Grab their attention. No one will read your content unless you do something to get people’s attention. And not just anyone’s attention, but your specific audience’s. Show them that you understand them, by expressing empathy for the issues in their daily life, and then help them solve those problems by offering them helpful content, no strings attached. At this point, they’ll know you, and like you. Nothing will capture your date’s heart more quickly than someone who understands their pain, wants to make it go away – and asks for nothing in return.

4. Show your expertise. Once you’ve gotten your audience’s attention by offering help, make sure you deliver. Your content should demonstrate how knowledgeable you are in your field, so that people can trust you, and eventually start to see you as the helpful expert. If you try to help your date cook a vegan meal, but end up burning the whole thing, you probably won’t be asked for help again. You want to get people to know, like, and trust you, so that they are ready for the next step, which is to…

5. Pop the question.  Now that you’ve gotten this far, and have developed a relationship little by little, you can finally ask for the sale. Now’s the time to tell your audience about your company and all you have to offer, and ask them point blank whether they want to take the plunge. You may not get down on one knee and promise to love them until the day you die, but the basic principle is the same. All that getting-to-know-and-like-and-trust-you content can now pay off…in sales.

So voila! There you have it – a step-by-step plan for creating content that converts. All you need to do is focus on your audience instead of yourself, and give helpful content generously. And when the time is right, go buy that ring.

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