Content runs the Internet; there is simply no disputing that. If you want to get people’s attention and eventually sell to them, it pays to offer them information and content first, and it’s really one of the best strategies in existence to lure them in. A common problem that you might face in the content marketing world, though, is the fact that people don’t really like to be “sold to,” or at least not overtly. They like to feel like they incidentally decided to take your offer, not that you wrote your content with the intent to get them to buy (even if it’s true).
Content that really sells should be unique and engaging and make the user almost forget that you’re trying to get them to spend their money. Let’s take a look at some interesting strategies that will help you get your point across while not turning them off:
People want to hear more about what they already believe, so a good strategy to start with is to lurk around forums in your niche and identify some strong opinions, even—and especially—the extreme ones. When you’re creating this content, keep what you learned about your niche’s audience in mind, and validate their opinions.
For example, if you are selling camping products and notice that a lot of people reviewing the kinds of items that you sell are “preppers,” or people who are waiting for an apocalypse to happen and spend all their time gathering materials, then don’t ignore this subset of your audience. Make content that validates their world view; write articles or even produce videos of how to “prep” using your products.
People like to stand by a cause, but what gets them riled up even more than pushing their own agendas is to see other people with a different one. Share controversial opinions openly, and this will get people—both those for and against you—to share your content and spread it all over the place. It doesn’t even have to be anything particularly dangerous, like talking about politics or religion. You can just as easily speak harshly about, say, OS X to an audience of fervent Mac users and get enthusiastic results.
3) Get extremely personal.
A lot of people are afraid to let their true selves show, but it is through personal stories that human beings relate to each other, and never forget that you have an audience of human beings. If you’ve had a tough journey in life getting to where you are, why not share it with the world in your content? This works especially well if your income is based on teaching people to walk in your footsteps, such as with an online course or other educational material. Be real and be raw, and people will be able to connect with you better, and they will also be more likely to share your story with others.
People love a juicy story. Even those who may claim to be immune to gossip often can’t help but overhear. Take advantage of this human tendency and show the underbelly of your niche. If there’s something hidden and non-quite-right happening beneath the surface, play the journalist and let people gasp about it. For example, let’s say you’re in the sports supplement niche and you learn that another supplement company is putting unhealthy substances in their product—maybe it’s time to warn your audience, and then subtly steer them in your direction.
5) Give away your best ideas.
This may seem like the most counter-intuitive strategy of all, but it works because it cultivates trust. Let’s say that your niche is language-learning software, and you recently discovered a method of language learning that has allowed you to become fluent in any language in three months. You may be tempted to build this discovery into a product and sell it to your audience for a high price, and that’s a fine strategy—but what if you gave it away for free, instead?
Concepts and ideas themselves are hard to sell, though they will spark interest; what people are really looking for ultimately is to have those ideas spoon-fed to them in an easy package, like a step-by-step book. Give people the ideas, but sell them the plan. The same goes if you were, say, a personal trainer and you discovered a superior way to build muscle: You might want to talk about your theories for free, but sell people your workout plans and diet books.
Besides, good ideas spread like wildfire across a niche, and if that idea is originally yours, all the links will be pointing back towards you as a source. The more good ideas you contribute to a niche, the more of a reputation you will build as well. People will trust you more with their money, and they will hesitate much less to buy your products when the time comes.
There are hundreds of ways to use content to market yourself or your products, but these five strategies should give you a good start, and they will help to differentiate you from other marketers who are just pushing the same “viral” content produced by others, and then just tacking their brand name onto it. Remember that in order to get people to both share your content and to remember that you created it, it should be unique to you and also genuinely useful to your niche. Always be thinking about how you can make your potential customers’ lives better, and the rest will follow.