Archive for converting readers to clients

How to Create a White Paper:
Get Found Online and Grow Readership

White-paper-digital-assetsIf you want to grow your reader base, that is, if you want to get found and get known online, small businesses and entrepreneurs will offer prospects and clients online information for free, such as a white paper, a report or a compelling article. This is part of the CAST acronym for ways to grow readership.

CAST Your Net: A is for Assets

I’ve been blogging about ways to grow your reader base using this memory device:

Social Media

I’m referring to digital assets, or content that is offered as a service to your readers. Your assets should range from free to fee: Read More→

Build a Product Funnel on Your Blog:
Make Your Content Marketing Profitable

FunnelAre you building a product funnel on your blog?

In my recent blog posts, I’ve been talking about ways to earn money blogging using two different methods:

  1. Sell products directly through your blog (or website)
  2. Sell products or services because of your blog, or indirectly

These are two key elements of a product funnel – a key internet marketing strategy that will help ensure that you are not leaving money on the table or missing opportunities to solidify the relationships your hard-earned content marketing efforts are creating. Read More→

A Brief History of Business Blogging
(And How to Make It Profitable)

Business-BloggingHow do you make money from business blogging? This is a question I was recently asked by a friend. It seems like a straightforward question, but the answer is complex.

Most blogs aren’t profitable, but people devote a great deal of time and energy to them. There must be a good reason, no? You need to understand how to use business blogging to suit your business goals.

Things have changed in the blogging stratosphere, rapidly. Let’s review how it all started, because it’s revealing.

According to NYMag, the first business blog was created in 1994, Do you remember Altavista, Webcrawler or AskJeeves? In case you don’t, that’s how early adapters searched the internet.  And then Yahoo launched in 1994 and utilized man-made descriptions with each URL. This was a game changer for many. Here are a few key dates that led up to business blogging: Read More→

Social Proof and LinkedIn:
‘Tis Better to Give, than Receive…

ExcellentAs I’ve shared in previous posts,  the value of social proof — referrals, recommendations, and client testimonials — cannot be underestimated.

Similar to how frequent, quality content enhances your website pages, social proof enhances your professional credibility.  When readers learn from the comments from other people about your business, they become your most persuasive sales people. Comments from others are such strong persuasion triggers, you shouldn’t limit them to just a page, but have them scattered throughout your web pages, blog, and social media profiles, such as LinkedIn.

With over 350 million members, and over 1 million members publishing blog posts on LinkedIn, you’re likely to encounter a few colleagues you know.  So make sure you take the time to recommend and endorse them.  Your recommendation or endorsement on LinkedIn is social proof for a other people; it signals that the person is qualified and recognized as a valued colleague. Read More→

Online Content Marketing: Let’s Put the “We” Back Into Weblog

Follow-MeI get calls from small business professionals who want to start a blog or an e-newsletter. They’ve usually invested money in a nice website, and then suddenly realize that something’s missing… like customers and leads!

They’re genuinely surprised that with the money they spent on their website, no one is coming to see it, indicate they like it, let alone pick up the phone and call.

As for LinkedIn and Facebook, they’re baffled why people don’t interact with them. It doesn’t take a genius (and I’m no genius), but my guess is they have a “me-site,” a “me-blog,” and “me pages” on social media sites.

Instead of generously sharing information about their field of expertise, they share “me-formation.” There’s an “I” in information, but that doesn’t mean you should always talk about yourself. Content should be focused on readers, not you and your business. Sure, people want to know about you, but actually they want to know what you can do for them.

Start everything you write online with a focus on customers and the problems that you can solve for them. Then follow up with building trusting relationships with your readers that lead to sales.

Here’s how online content marketing works for small businesses:

  1. Relationships: Whenever you write content (blog posts, e-newsletter articles, emails), keep the focus on what problems you can solve for your customers. What are their struggles? What do they most desire? Connect with them by writing for them and about them. Read More→

The Ladder of Emotional Values: Pleasure Reigns

What emotions are people seeking to satisfy online? What can we understand about human motivations and values in order for content marketing to work?

Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs tells us we are motivated to satisfy our basic needs first (food, shelter, clothing), before we seek to obtain satisfaction for social, intellectual and spiritual needs.

A similar hierarchy of emotional values exists. As incoming information from web and blog pages enters the brain and is processed, our emotional centers assign values to offers.

Brain science, along with studies on decision making from behavioral economics, has shown that people often don’t use logical reasoning. Instead they go with their gut reactions. They make decisions based on feelings.

Later, when that leads to a buying decision, people justify their actions with rational logic and intellectual “alibis.”

At the lowest level, people have a desire for security. The next thing they seek is comfort. At the top of the ladder, people will pay the most to satisfy a desire to experience pleasure.

Although these values are all emotional, rationality plays a part. Online, an offer must work properly for consumers to feel secure. A marketing offer also provides comfort through ease of purchase, and also by providing reasons to defend the purchase to friends and family. But rationality is never the deciding factor. Read More→

Writing Compelling Content:
What Drives Your Readers?

In a recent blog post, Compelling Content:  What Are Your Readers’ Hot Buttons?, we explored the top 10 hot buttons and the use of emotional words and phrases to tap into these issues.  Here’s another model based on only 4 drivers.

4 Drives in a Nutshell

Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices (Jossey Bass, 2001), by Harvard professors Paul R. Lawrence and Nitin Nohria.

Based on evolutionary science, our drives can be categorized into four basic motivations:

  1. The drive to acquire
  2. The drive to bond
  3. The drive to learn
  4. The drive to defend

This is subtle and important. Let’s imagine you run an executive coaching business. You provide professional services to leaders in organizations. Since you work one-on-one with your clients, you probably have a pretty good idea of which of the above four motivators frequently come into play.

If your clients are results-driven competitive executives, you can’t assume that they’re motivated by the drive to acquire, but it’s a good bet. They may just as well be driven to succeed by the desire to form successful relationships with others, or to learn everything there is to know, or to defend their territory.

But one drive will probably be more motivating than the others, and it will be evident in your client’s priorities. Assuming your client is driven by the drive to acquire and to have more, you’ll need to write content to appeal to this need.

What is the fear associated with each drive? Read More→

Compelling Content: What Are Your Readers’ Hot Buttons?

How do you write compelling content that attracts and engages readers? Ahhh, that question again…(followed usually by how do you turn readers into buyers?)

First, let’s deal with the compelling content thing. Your content isn’t going to market a thing if you don’t reach inside the heads and hearts of your readers.

Obviously it’s all about your readers. The better you know who they are and what they like, the easier it is to write content for them.

Use emotional words and phrases, and think about triggering their hot buttons. There are universal drives and human motivators. It doesn’t matter if your reader is a 20-year-old gamer or a 70-year-old retired professor. Human beings are all driven by hot button motivators. (See the excellent book by Barry Feig for more about this: Hot Button Marketing: Push the Emotional Buttons that Get People to Buy). Some of these are:

  1. The desire to be first
  2. The desire to know it all
  3. The desire for control
  4. The desire to love and be loved
  5. The desire to enjoy and have fun
  6. The desire for family values or feelings of moral righteousness
  7. The drive for prestige
  8. The drive for self-achievement
  9. The drive for power and influence
  10. The drive to help others

What drives your readers? How can you test your assumptions? Maybe you could push a few buttons to see what reaction you get? Read More→

Social Proof: Are You Using Client Recommendations?

This weekend I got a call from a person who wanted to buy a subscription to executive coach articles to use for his newsletter. What sealed the deal? The testimonials from other subscribers.

Recommendations, testimonials and client stories are a powerful persuasion tactic. It’s one of the key persuasion triggers that get people to take action. It’s called social proof.

Robert Cialdini wrote about six weapons of influence in his landmark book Influence. Social proof is one of the most powerful mechanisms for triggering buying decisions. Here’s why:

Customer ratings and reviews are one of the ways we decide and choose to buy products online. I use them all the time to click and buy: I glance at the number of gold stars other people have given a book on Amazon, or a pair of tennis shoes on Nike.

If there are two pairs of shoes I’ve selected for my size and price, I’ll go with the one that has 5 stars over 4. Think about it: I don’t know these people, they may have feet completely different to mine, they may not play tennis as often as I do.

Yet when I see a customer rave review and 5 stars, I’m all in.

We are heavily influenced by social persuasion, we can’t help it. Our brains respond to our strong need to belong and fit in, and it all happens in our unconscious minds.

Do these same persuasion tactics work for sites and businesses that aren’t selling physical products? Does social validation work for businesses selling services and experiences? Read More→

Landing Pages: Get Readers to Take Action

How do you get readers to take action? Short answer: a landing page. (Also known as a sales page, squeeze page)

You can’t get results from all the content you’re creating and publishing on your blog, e-newsletter, social media sites, unless eventually you send people to a landing page and ask them to take action.

Otherwise, you may be creating a great brand, great thought leadership, great content… and so what? Sooner or later, you need to ask your readers to actually do something. You need a landing page to do that.

Landing page definition: An attractive, compelling page:

  • Published on the Internet that is
  • Optimized for search engines and
  • Designed to persuade a defined group of readers
  • To take one specific action

Here’s what I created (yes, again with the Smart Draw) to illustrate:

Read More→