1. Always Think of the Customer
You need to understand your customers, particularly your best customers, and know what attributes will help you identify and communicate with them. Then you have to tell them how you can help them, rather than how great your product or service is.
If you have two or more target markets with different interests or concerns, create separate messages that speak to the specific interests or concerns of each market. For example, business travelers and vacation travelers will have somewhat different demands of a hotel. The first group may want the hotel to have a business center while the second will be interested in easy access to leisure activities.
Additionally, more than one person will likely be involved in any purchasing decision, so you may have to develop separate content to appeal to different types of decision makers and influencers.
2. Include a Call to Action
The call to action is an element that’s often neglected by many communication professionals (myself included), particularly when we’re trying a“soft sell” approach. But that means many prospects will likely wander off instead of entering your sales funnel. Instead, decide what you’d like your readers to do and when would be an appropriate time to ask. Remember, a call to action does not have to be“buy this.” You can ask them to leave a comment, subscribe, complete a survey, recommend the piece to others, etc.
3. Invoke Reciprocity
One of my favorite blogs, Copyblogger, posted a podcast interview with Dr. Susan Weinschenk who holds a doctorate in psychology and is an expert in the field of influential digital design. According to Dr. Weinschenk, giving your target audience valuable information up front is the best strategy for persuading them to obey your call to action. She stated that they will unconsciously feel beholden, particularly if you’re asking for something that seems relatively small (e.g., their email address) in return for what you’ve shared with them (e.g., valuable content such a report).
Roger Dooley at the Neuroscience Marketing website is also in favor of the reciprocity strategy. He states,“if you invoke reciprocity, you’ll be working with the way our brains are wired and will be more likely to get your visitors to do what you want them to.”
4. Consider the Steps in the Sales Cycle
In some cases, one piece can go from grabbing the target audience’s attention to persuading them to take action, and there are writing formulas to help you. But often, particularly when dealing with B2B transactions, the buying cycle has several stages, and you will have to match your content to those stages in the buying cycle.
MarketingSherpa advises that you ask coworkers who are on the frontlines of marketing and sales to share information about what goes on with customers at every touch point in the buying process so you’ll know what content works best at each stage. For instance, you could capture attention by solving problems (e.g., save time or money, sell more, etc.) during the early stages and then provide more technical information about your product or service in the later stages when they are getting ready to buy. In addition, MarketingProfs suggests having some of your messages address ways they can overcome obstacles in the buying process.
Make sure that at every stage your content includes a way for prospects to move deeper into the sales funnel when they’re ready.
5. Be Consistent
You’ll also need to nurture your leads by providing content consistently. Consistent does not have to mean frequent; for some organizations, a quarterly white paper could do the trick. You can also try for a monthly, weekly or biweekly newsletter (print or electronic) or posts on your blog or social media networks. The idea is to keep yourself in the minds of prospects while giving them the time to gain confidence in your expertise and feel a sense of familiarity. And, if you’ve included two-way communication in your strategy (e.g., via social media), you’ve opened the way for them to build a relationship with you and your organization.