Your sales department just called. They want an article promoting a deal or publishing a coupon on the company blog. How can you turn a promotional post into a quality article that can be used for months to come? Follow these 16 tips to turn the sales pumpkin into a content glass slipper.
1. Success is in the Hook
If you’re short on content but long in the sell, your headline is more important than ever to draw in your readers. This content will be harder than others to promote through social channels or catch the eye of readers, so brainstorm a few options to draw readers in. Is there a particular benefit that readers would enjoy over other products? How is this product unique compared to any other product in the industry?
2. Ask an Authority Figure to Write It
Having your summer intern write the promotional post sounds tempting (they get “experience” and you don’t have to do the boring stuff. Win-win, right?) but it won’t carry the same weight as the CEO or developer who is closely connected to the product. If someone has experience in the industry and is deeply invested in the product then they will add more credibility and make the article sound less like a sales pitch. Posting a sales-heavy article by “admin” shows readers that you just threw something together to promote products.
3. Create a Story Around the Sale
If you have captivated your audience with a great hook, your next challenge is to keep them on your page. Immediately jumping into the prices and product descriptions might lead to a bounce if the pitch comes off too strong. Consider the backstory of where the product came from. Did your CEO find inspiration after clients repeatedly asked for something that did XYZ? Does the product have surprising uses? Even if the story is “this is John. He doesn’t like when…” it can help readers ease into the pitch.
4. Look for a News Factor
This is easier said than done if the article is a “buy two get one free deal” but some products may have a hidden news element. Work with the PR department to brainstorm how they would position the product or discount if they had to pitch it to media. Why is the product revolutionary? Can it be connected to related stories about the company in the news? Even adding a stretched news connection is better than pouncing on your readers as soon as the page loads.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative
CopyPress CEO Dave Snyder tried this in How to Use Curation Reports to Get Women. Obviously buying our products won’t guarantee that you get a date — we’re a content marketing company, not a dating service — but the stretch took a pitcj and made it interesting. Try putting a fresh spin on boring product copy to amuse future customers. Your sales team will be happy that people are interested in the offer and you will be happy with interesting content.
6. Thoroughly Address Questions and Concerns
Once you have hooked your readers with a killer headline and introduction, answer any and all questions they could have about the deal, coupon, or product. If your sales team wanted an advertisement, they would have asked the digital department to create banner ads. Instead they came to you to create an in-depth article that answers consumer questions. Plus, you’re saving time by addressing concerns in the copy instead of in the comments section. If you have to make a hard sell in a blog post, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: addressing concerns beforehand saves you time answering questions in the long run.
7. Make Contact Information Clearly Visible
Despite the fact that you run your company’s blog and social media accounts, you may not be qualified to close a deal. Make sure the correct email address and phone number of the person who can help readers is prominently displayed in the article. Also work with the sales department to learn who’s information to give out when customers ask questions via social media. (I know you just answered all possible questions in number four, but people will think of more.) Knowing who to direct them to will save you time and prevent the customer from feeling like he or she is getting bounced around to find the right answer.
8. Give Concrete Examples of Success
If you must push back on your sales department and advise against an article devoted to a coupon or sale, try to meet them halfway with a case study. You get your hook, tell a story about a customer that used your product successfully, and most importantly show concrete results. Why should potential customers take your word on a good deal? Show them exactly how it is already benefiting others so they can decide on their own that they want it.
9. Check Your Tone (Before You Wreck Your Tone)
If you copy and paste whatever sales copy that’s given to you, your readers will immediately know whats up. You know your company’s blog better than anyone else around you. Make sure the tone of the article flows with the rest of the other posts on the blog. Any writing that’s promotional or sponsored should still mesh with the brand — that’s what they’re paying you for! If they wanted the copy to stand out like a sore thumb they wouldn’t have come to you to place it in the first place.
10. Edit Out Sales Cliches
For the low price of… with this limited time offer… take advantage while you still can… if your readers can picture Billy Mays saying your copy it’s time to rethink your advertorial. Internet users are subjected to enough advertisements through videos and banner ads to read through another one on your blog. Let the content sell without selling.
11. Don’t Slack on Images
Now is not the time to use the exact same product images that can be found on your website — or worse: stock photos — talk to your graphic designer and brainstorm ideas to pique the interest of readers or make this article stand out. If your headline doesn’t convince them to click-through, a creative picture might. Plus, your loyal readers notice when you use the same tired images over and over again. Show them something new that they can’t resist clicking on.
12. Think Long-Term
Cranking out a blog article because the sales department asked for one will only leave you with a flash-in-the-pan article that lives in the depths of your archives. Instead of just covering the 30% off sale, try to create a post that informs about the product as much as possible. Plus, you can use that article in the future as a tool to explain different company products and offerings. You’re also creating the option to link to the blog post if you don’t want to send readers straight to the product page.
13. Revisit the Article
It might sound great to think long-term, but what if you’re offering a discount or coupon that is only valid for a week or two? Again, the article doesn’t need to die after the sale is over. If you have built an entire post around a 50% off event that ended last month, add an addendum that the sale is now over and direct readers to a page where they can find others. This could be as simple as a text box at the top or bottom of the article apologizing for the bad timing and inviting readers to subscribe to the email list for future deals.
14. Track the Sales
The proof is in the pudding – or at least in the click-through and conversion rates. Track where the sales come from so you and your sales team can see whether or not that article was a success. If it didn’t generate any leads or revenue then you can talk about avoiding these types of posts in the future or changing the format. If it did make the company money, see what went right. Learn what your readers like and dislike and you will be more prepared for the next product launch or discount.
15. Share the Editorial Calendar
The better informed your team is about the editorial calendar, the more understanding they will be about sending you salesy content. If they’re overpowering your publishing schedule, give them a quota or explain that you need advance notice to find a spot for them on the calendar. You won’t lose readers in the long run if you balance out the sales pitches with quality content, and reserving a special slot for the sales team means you won’t get bent out of shape when they want something published.
16. Accept that You Might Not Win A Pulitzer for This
There are plenty of opportunities out there to create content that inspires you and impresses your readers. This may not be one of them. Follow these tips, but acknowledge that you can’t always win. Remember: your blog is meant to bring in leads and make sales. There’s no point in fighting your sales team, the best you can do is work with them to create the best product possible.