Using content to make the hard sell…without selling hard

Using content to make the hard sell…without selling hard

You don’t need to look very far to find a piece of content marketing. Starting with the humble blog back in the nineties, it’s since grown to encompass a bunch of different media, platforms, and styles.

Research conducted by HubSpot in 2020 showed that 70% of marketers actively invest in content marketing. It can help build your brand voice and visibility, grow your audience, boost your credibility, provide useful information and, crucially, sell without actually selling. 

Embarking on a content marketing journey can feel daunting - you need to put aside plenty of time to create assets and gather information without knowing whether it’s going to provide you with a decent ROI. To get you on the right path, we’ve put together a list of what we believe are the most important things to consider before starting your content marketing adventure.

But first, let’s answer the question on everyone’s lips: 

Is blogging dead? Umm, kinda.

…The blogging of ten years ago, that is. While the personal diary-style blog does still exist out there, the majority of blogs are now highly influential sources of information (on pretty much any topic you can think of).

And the number of people using them is growing. According to Statistica, in the US alone there are 32 million people who call themselves “bloggers” - that figure is up by 10 million since 2014. Blogging is just one of the many forms of content marketing - and there’s no way that’s disappearing any time soon.

Gain credibility in your industry with content marketing.

Like anything worthwhile, creating content takes time and resources. But it can do a lot of heavy lifting for you.

  • Marketers who prioritized blogging received 13x more ROI than companies who didn’t. (HubSpot 2019)
  • According to HubSpot, blogs have been rated the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information.
  • Companies with blogs produce an average of 67% more leads monthly than companies that don't blog. (DemandMetric)

Even without the use of SEO (another subject for another time) consistent blogging can increase your credibility and help you gain trust with your audiences.

It has the potential to establish you and your brand as a thought leader in your industry. To ensure that happens, you’ve got to make sure you’re giving your audience genuinely valuable information.

Put your client at the heart of your content.

When creating any content, it’s important to focus on the problem - not the solution. Think about how your content is being received and who by.

The majority of people who read blogs are doing so because they’re looking for answers to questions, not because they want to learn about the new features your app is offering, for example.

That being said, if those new features on your app do solve a problem that you’re writing about, there’s no reason you can’t highlight that fact. Your audience either wants to be educated, entertained… or edutained. Give them something they can use right away to solve a problem they have - without giving you anything.

Create valuable content and your audience will thank you for it.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, so it might seem counterintuitive to give stuff away for free. Ultimately, though, it will benefit you. The more free content you provide, the more you can grow your community and be seen to be great at what you do.

The free content you give away is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value you can give with your paid-for service. 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: people love buying, but they hate being sold to. Good content is the art of selling without selling. And that’s why it works so well.

While you should focus on giving your audience something they can go away and chew on rather than making a hard sell, that doesn’t mean you should be afraid to send your blog posts directly to your prospects.

This is merely a way of showing them that they’re at the front of your mind and you want to give them something that might be of use to them. It's a way of you creating real connections by showing that you value your audience.

It’s not all give and no take.

Great marketing can be built on a foundation of strong data - by using your website analytics to see what content your audience is gravitating towards, you can learn more about your customers’ wants and needs. You can give them more of what they want and raise the probability of them coming back to you again and again. You can also use it to see what pieces of content are critical in getting people closer to the point of purchase and then produce more content that will do the same. 

Larger pieces of content can be used as a gateway to getting even more information from your customers. Use gated content to get high-quality leads, and build an email list that you can contact directly. While gated content does create a bit of friction - the trade-off is a lot smaller than cash so the friction is minimal. And who said friction was a bad thing anyway? You’re building your credibility by telling customers that the content you’re providing is worth giving you their name and email address for.

Don’t forget your customer.

When using data to influence your decision-making, make sure you’re not forgetting that you’re trying to help someone - not sell to someone. Content marketing is a powerful way to help your audience, grow your brand voice, and build a loyal following. 

To make the hard sell without selling hard, you’ve got to do some digging into who it is you’re actually selling to. You also need to figure out what problems they have that your product solves. If you’re struggling with that, we’ve got something that could help. Have a read of our blog post all about problem statements.

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