When I was fresh out of graduate school, newly licensed as a psychologist, I needed to get some clients. Word of mouth wasn’t going to do it, nor was relying on insurance referrals or my Yellow Pages ad. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)
I spotted a family style magazine at the hair dressers one day, and decided to buy a half page advertorial. I wrote about a fictitious client – “Susie” – who was unhappy about her weight, her husband, her life. I added some specific details about this person (“Susie” was an amalgamation of clients I had worked with as an intern).
That marketing tactic worked like a charm. Women came to my office saying they knew I could help them, because I had written about Susie who was so similar to them it was eerie.
Before I became a psychologist I had been a journalist, and the combination of those two skills paid off. It was my introduction to content marketing, although I didn’t know it at the time.
In business, this marketing tactic is a case study. It works because you connect with people where it hurts. You show them that others are similar, and here’s what happened to them. You give them hope. You spell it out for them.
A case study works because:
- You write about a real human being (or a typical one)
- You connect with their pain (the problem and all the manifestations of it)
- You explain the solution (your product or your services)
- You show examples of the results for that person (this creates hope and desire)
- You make your product and services real and specific
- Readers identify and connect the dots for themselves
The KLT Factor
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling widgets or counseling services. People buy from other people because they know, like and trust you. The more you bring in real people with names and specifics, the more compelling your content becomes.
The more the reader (aka prospect, buyer, manager, etc.) can see themselves in the picture, the more they can connect the dots between what you do and sell and the problems they need solved.
A Good Story Sells
Our brains are hard wired to listen to stories, especially about other people. But not everyone's a good story teller. It takes the ability to see the key elements in a person's situation that can be taken out of context and applied universally to other people, other situations. And, you must be able to tie it in with what you want people to do.
All this week I've been writing about the key elements of starting a "little online business," using the 6 Steps of Success, posted by Seth Godin and elaborated by Joe Pulizzi, Valeria Maltoni, and Chris Brogan. I explained that I had been talking with my retired friends Lucy and Tom, and what my advice to them is.
My point is that to teach things, you've got to bring in people and tell their stories about how to apply theory to specific actionable steps. You've got to connect the dots for people. And then ask them to do something.
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