The secret to content that sells

October 24, 2012

High-quality content is your most potent form of advertising. You may be advertising to attract more clients to a service business. You may be advertising a product. You may be advertising an idea. When you publish content, you want someone to do something and when you do it right, your audience takes that specific action.

There’s a “secret” to making this kind of advertising work better …  It might seem like common sense, but lots of businesses are not getting this right so herein lies the opportunity.

The secret of great advertising is keep it from looking like advertising

The reason content marketing is so powerful in the first place is that it doesn’t tend to look like an ad. Instead it is useful information, presented in an accessible, interesting way.

Traditional advertising tries to do this with ads that are creative and entertaining. They can be fun to watch, but too often, the audience isn’t given any reason to go out and purchase the product. This “creative” ad passes the entertainment test, but it doesn’t pass the advertising test. It doesn’t get the audience to take the next step toward becoming a customer.

There are endless tricks that marketers use to make their advertising look less like an ad. But tricks don’t work forever. The nice thing about creating quality content in the first place is that you don’t have to trick people into enjoying your content.

The three elements of highly effective content

If you want to create great content – the kind that gets shared, that attracts customers and potential business partners, and that moves your audience to take action — you need to do three things.

  1. You need to write something useful
  2. You need to write something that’s appealing and easy to digest
  3. You need to make occasional offers to take the action you’re looking for

Now, add a dash of copywriting

If what you’re writing is both useful and interesting, but you aren’t seeing the results you want, you probably need a little infusion of copywriting skill. Consider your headlines and whether you are uncovering the pain points of your potential customers. Look at whether you are talking about the benefits of what you’re marketing, or still rambling about benefits. Check whether you’re using the language of your audience, and consider whether you could actually just ask them to do what you wnt them to do.

So what’s the secret?

In a nutshell: Create content that is remarkably useful, that is enjoyable to consume, and that lets the reader know exactly what to do next.

Not necessarily easy, but simple.

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