July 14, 2017 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
We’ve all seen how advertising works at its most basic: the product isn’t really what’s for sale. What you buy is how your life will improve if you use the product. The most common version of this is the “sex sells” adage, but you can see it all over the place. Buy these clothes to improve your professional life, eat this food to lose weight, get this smartphone to finally become the social media and tech guru you never were before. We fall for it all the time, because we are all seeking progress and improvement, no matter what form it personally takes.
If you are not approaching your content marketing through the lens of progress and possible improvement, then you are missing out on a huge opportunity.
Marketers use many strategies to create and produce content that customers will care about. Demographic studies, analyses of online behavior, niche marketing, and pain points are all strategies that blend together to create a specific, yet always changing, content formula.
So you’ve followed the typical advice that surrounds how to create good content: you’ve worked on making great headlines, you write in a tone you think your audience will like, and you vary your content style so your blog doesn’t get stale. These are important steps, but they are not the only steps. When that content still doesn’t generate leads, it’s because you’re missing one crucial ingredient: improvement.
Your customers don’t care about eight ways to decorate a guest room or why they should change HVAC filters monthly. They care about how decorating that guest room and changing those filters will improve their property, and by extension their lives.
Image via Flickr by googlisti
Identifying your audience’s pain points has long been an effective way to create marketing strategies. Offering solutions to these pain points attracts customers to your brand and your products. Yet many businesses struggle to truly identify what an audience’s pain points are.
When you know what problems your audience is having a hard time solving on their own, you have their pain points. To offer solutions to those pain points that will truly draw your audience to your brand, you need to figure out how that solution will improve the customer. That pain point? It’s not just an irritation. We call them “pain points” and not “annoyance points” or “problem points” for a reason, so your solution should be deeper than just the advertising equivalent of taking an ibuprofen.
If your audience says, “I wish there was more content explaining how XYZ worked,” they’re giving you a valuable clue. You have to figure out why they want that explanation, because the answer will tell you what kind of content to produce. Are they overwhelmed when trying to buy that XYZ product because of a lack of helpful comparison information? Do they wish they knew more about XYZ so, when going to get it fixed, they can more effectively talk to the repair company? In this case, improvement comes in the form of spending money wisely on XYZ, because the audience can now swipe that credit card with confidence and not trepidation.
Why does that “One Weird Trick” headline get us all to click completely ridiculous content? Because we’re all, deep down, searching for that “one weird trick” that will fix whatever problems we have. Except we all know that, short of winning the lottery, there isn’t just one trick that will fix our problems, which is why those headlines sound gimmicky and too good to be true.
What you want to create in your headlines is that same sense of possibility, however. Give your audience a reason to click on your headline. Leverage FOMO: make them feel like they’ll really miss out if they don’t read your article. That annoying bit of life that isn’t going right? Well, your headline promises the fix to those troubles if your audience just clicks the link.
Copypress highlighted a few headlines that worked for marketers (and headlines that didn’t) and broke down what made them effective. Taking a look at a few of the best shows how these headlines promised readers some form of progress, improvement, or possibility.
The headline “Are You Making These Embarrassing Mistakes at Work?” has a subtext: that you probably are making some embarrassing mistakes, and worse, you don’t know about them. Therefore, you must click the article to identify the problems, fix them, and make your work life easier.
“How Many of These Italian Foods Have You Tried?” promises you some fun in the form of foods you’ll be salivating over if you read the article. The subtext of this headline is a bit of a dare: you probably haven’t tried all the Italian foods on the list, but once you read about them, you’ll certainly want to. The self-improvement in this headline isn’t about making more money or looking better, it’s about having a little extra fun, something almost everyone needs more of.
Your product or blog is interesting enough to generate leads, but those leads don’t convert. Something about your product or service is failing. You aren’t keeping your customers’ attention long enough. You got them here with a catchy headline or a clever social media post, because you hinted that somehow you had the key to a bit of self-improvement. Now reinforce what they came to see. Show them how you’ll keep that promise, because you know how your customers are struggling and you know how your product will alleviate those problems.
Your audience wants you to offer them personal progress. They keep clicking links in the hopes that they’ll discover valuable information that offers even a millimeter in a better direction. Improvement comes in many forms, from a simple smile to a major career change. Pinpoint how you’re offering it, and you discover how to truly reach your customers.
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