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You likely already know the big secret of marketing: Content is the key to reaching your ideal clients and creating a dedicated tribe of followers. But you may not be completely clear on exactly what type of content works best or the types of content you should avoid if you want this strategy to work.
Creating effective and engaging content should be a top priority for all online businesses. It’s understandable that you’d want to maximize the return you get on the investment needed, and we see businesses make one huge mistake that damages their conversion rate and ROI: creating too much promotional content and little, if any, non-promotional content.
It’s perfectly natural to want to create content that promotes your products and services —content is, after all, a marketing strategy. You may have difficulties understanding how content can sell when you’re not publishing promotional content urging people to buy. But, strange as it seems, promotional content is counterproductive.
Rather than convincing your audience to buy your stuff, promotional content can alienate them. Find out why and what you should do instead.
The Problem of Promotion
The immense power of content marketing comes from its gentle approach to selling. It’s not the hard sell used in advertising, where all the copy is geared toward getting you to buy into a specific offer.
Instead, content works by providing tangible value to your ideal clients. You want to naturally draw them to you and naturally convert them into paying clients. They come to see the benefits of your content, and they are happy to pay for more.
The key to content marketing is making your audience happy. The goal is to give them much value and actionable content. Resist the urge to constantly pitch what you’re offering.
Nothing will alienate your readers faster than content that shoehorns in a sales pitch at every available opportunity and never talks about anything else.
Playing the Long Game
In recent years, content marketing has seen a large rise in popularity as promotional strategies have taken on a far more customer-centric focus. Businesses increasingly rely on providing content that is highly valuable and relevant, giving their ideal clients tangible ways to solve problems while avoiding directly pitching them products and services.
If you’ve crafted a strong content strategy, your readers will look for ways to connect with you, and when you do occasionally make a direct pitch, they will feel nurtured by your content, which has fully educated them on the benefits and features of your product or service.
Non-promotional content makes saying yes easy. Instead of creating promotional content, focus on crafting high-value content that is educational and actionable for your audience. It doesn’t have the immediate impact of a sales pitch, but content marketing is a long game.
The Benefits of Educational Content
Don’t let the term educational fool you: We’re not talking about content that’s suitable only for teachers, coaches, and other businesses whose core goal is education. Rather, we’re talking about content that educates your ideal clients on critical topics relating to your business and the problems they have and ones that your products and services can solve.
This approach may feel counterproductive. After all, if you tell them how to fix their issues, they’re not going to need you, right?
Well, not exactly. Every situation has different levels. Whatever your products and services are designed to solve, you’ll have aspects that involve quick fixes. By teaching your audience how to solve these micro problems, you’re demonstrating how much expertise you have in that area and how much they can gain by working with you to solve the macro problem.
To achieve this effect, your content should provide valuable information that’s actionable, enabling readers to improve the problems they face in an immediate way.
Look at the situation in this way: Selling through content marketing is like selling cheese. Your supermarket wants you to buy a new line of luxury cheddar, so it offers you a free taste. You’re hungry, and you have a craving for cheese, so this free taste hits the spot. It gives you an immediate fix, shows you that the supermarket has great taste in cheese, and makes it a total no-brainer to pick up a full round of the high-end cheddar rather than your usual budget choice.
Educational content is like a free cheese sample: It gives your audience members a quick fix and a taster that tells them your brand of cheese is perfect for their needs. This approach makes it easier for them to buy, partly because they’re certain they’re getting what they want and partly because you’re so confident in the quality of your cheese.
It’s All About Them
Original graphic courtesy of Hazel Butler for CopyPress
Your content isn’t about you. It’s not about you, your business, or the products and services you’re trying to sell.
Your content is about your audience — the people to whom you are trying to sell. What do they need want, need, and care about? What will make them feel confident enough in you to buy?
Consumer studies have reported that educational, non-promotional content is exactly what your audience wants. Forty percent of consumers say they most want brands to provide informative content, while 28 percent of consumers said they prefer educational.
We like to think we’re inspiring and entertaining people with our writing, but that’s all about us. Only 17 percent and 11 percent, respectively, said entertaining or inspirational content was what they wanted.
What a Non-Promotional Content Strategy Can Achieve
A non-promotional content strategy keeps the focus on your audience and achieves several key goals:
The underlying implication to all your non-promotional content is that you are the solution. You don’t need to say it; your readers will know.
If you’re struggling to find the right topics to cover and provide tangible value, or you simply can’t set aside your natural bias toward your amazing products and services, consider outsourcing your content creation. A highly skilled content marketer will know how to effectively provide consistent and valuable non-promotional content, while an editing and proofreading team will ensure quality every time.