Not too long ago, I was listening to The Girl Next Door Podcast (go ahead & just hit that subscribe button. You won’t regret it.) They were chatting all things social media when Kelsey said “Personally, I don’t follow any brands. I don’t like always feeling like there is something I need. And that’s why they want you to follow, right? So you’ll buy something.”
As a marketer & business owner, that comment REALLY hit home.
Every piece of “best practice” marketing advice seems to tells business owners to create valuable content in order to make sales – never taking into account that what might add value to your bottom line may not feel valuable to your target audience.
In this week’s blog post, I am going to bust four content marketing myths that are floating around out there. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels when creating content, chances are, you’re buying into advice that simply isn’t true.
We’re going full on marketing myth busters today & you’re going to walk away from this post with a clearer picture of a content strategy that more effectively serves your audience & your business goals.
Let’s dive in.
And while you’re here, download my list of 36 questions your content must answer. Use these questions to filter your entire content strategy through so you can become a more effective content marketer for your business.
myth #1: “better engagement = more sales”
Before I really knew what copy writing was, I was slinging captions as a social media manager (words + marketing = my sweet spot). “I had a lot of growth at the beginning but now, I feel like I’ve hit a wall. I’m not getting the views/sales/subscribers I used to get. There’s too much competition out there. ” <== Nearly every project started out with a comment like this.
And with new studies showing that only 45% of marketers are successfully building subscribed audiences with their content – those comments make sense.
Content creation can feel a lot like screaming into the void. Logic (& all those “experts” you found on Pinterest) tells you that the best way to overcome a void, is to fill it. Before you even know what’s happening, you (+ your team) are under pressure to be creating constantly – hoping, that if you build it, show everyone a clear map to it & then never.stop.talking about it, they will come.
That *might* work to get your audience’s attention, but it isn’t going to keep it.
The most effective content is helpful in and of itself. It primes your audience to buy & offers real value to those who never do. Effective content educates, informs and entertains.
Because yes, there IS a lot of competition out there. But only two-thirds of that competition is actually writing content based on audience needs. As much content noise as there is, there is still a huge information gap that your audience is waiting for you to fill.
The takeaway? It’s time to stop fiddling with optimal posting times and obsessing over likes, clicks & comments.
Content creation isn’t just about sales, it’s about relationship.
Your messaging will keep attention when you throw out the salesy jargon & adjust to fill the information gap.
WHEN IN DOUBT, FILTER YOUR CONTENT THROUGH THESE 5 QUESTIONS:
1.What questions do they ask on this subject? (pop the topic into a google search & you should find plenty of questions people want the answers to!)
2. What is the problem I am solving? (zero in on one specific question/problem and how you are going to use your perspective to solve it.)
3. How does this prime my audience to buy? (how does providing this information fit into your overall business strategy?)
4. How does this help non-buyers? (what value am I giving away? How am I making this content worth my time as an authority builder & their time as a reader?)
5. Is it fun? (c’mon now, I don’t care how good the information is, if it’s boring, no one is going to read it.)
Answer those & you’re golden.
myth #2: “you’ll connect with your audience best when you just write from the heart”
“Just write from the heart.” <– an actual piece of advice I saw given in an FB group when a member asked how to write for better conversions.
I get where the advice giver was coming from. People relate best to other people.
But efforts at “human-ness” take a wrong turn when we start to believe that our heartfelt desire to help others through our product or service is the only thing our audience needs to see from us to be moved to purchase.
It’s not our intentions that drive them, it’s their own.
“When you’re dealing with people, remember you’re not dealing with people of logic but of emotion.” – Dale Carnegie
People buy for all sorts of emotional reasons.
To feel loved.
To avoid pain.
To be healthier.
To save time.
To be recognized.
And at the center of every one of those emotions is – themselves.
Need an example?
My favorite ever productivity & budget guru, Jordan Page NAILED it with this Instagram post this week:
Yep, she sprinkled in a bit of her own emotions here – but those little bullet points marked by stars?
Those show what’s in it for ME, which if we are being honest, is all I really care about.
So, write like a human. Write with emotion. But make sure that emotion centers around your reader, not yourself.
myth #3: “I must be pointing to my offer all the time if I want to make sales.”
There is this belief out there with business owners that I hear all the time – “I have to share as often/as many places as possible in order to make sales.”
Quick story –
Back when I first started as a social media manager I had a client who was sharing blog posts to 50+ Facebook groups a week. With every viewer fluctuation, there was more pressure to share more often to more groups.
Every share came with mixed responses (I mean, it is the internet). But for as many people who were ambivalent to what I was sharing , there were just as many people who felt like they were being used for clicks (and very, very few who actually became loyal followers).
The moral? No one, not even your most ideal, perfect-for-your-offer customer, likes to be sold or pitched to. Like I said earlier, content (of ALL types) is about more than just sales, it’s about relationship.
If you can turn off your “sales voice” & show people how to get what they really want, they will be primed to act when it IS time for you to sell.
A great rule of thumb here is to only use one out of every 4 posts to sell.
(My friend Ashleigh Becker of Sela Designs strikes this balance so well.)
I see SO many businesses use their platforms to focus only on sales – I don’t know about you, but even if you sell my ride-or-die, favorite product in the world, if it’s all you ever talk about I’m going to tune you out (it’s why they invented the mute function, right?).
Value based content is helpful the person reading – even if they never buy.
That doesn’t mean you should never create sales focused content (you gotta make that money, honey!). But there should be other parts of your funnel (like sales pages & emails) that go a little more full-force – content needs to always be helpful or at least, interesting to read, even to your non-buying audience.
Takeaway tip: sell like you want to be sold to.
“Copy is not written. It is assembled.” (Yep, all content counts as copy).
Myths = busted. But, having a more clear picture of what to write is only part of content creation. As it’s been said:
“Copy is not written. Copy is assembled.” – Eugene Schwartz
And like building a bridge (or an IKEA bookshelf), once you get all the correct pieces together, your content works best when it’s assembled in a certain order.
That’s where a good copy formula comes in. Copy formulas are designed to give order to your message.
These formulas come from the best-of-the-best in copy writing and have been proven to WORK.
This list is by no means extensive, they are just a few of my personal faves. Pick a few you like, test to see what works & ditch the rest!
Need a formula for your Insta-caption? How about a cart close email series for your upcoming launch? This simple formula can pretty much do it all.
Start by painting a picture of life before the solution: “Here’s your little world, where every day, you face a problem …”
The quick & dirty on life after the solution: “But, imagine if that problem vanished. Forever.“
Bridge the two together: “Here’s how to get there.”
Add some data points & details and this one works well for case studies & testimonials, too!
Similar to Before-After-Bridge but here you really amplify the problem. What if it doesn’t go away, but instead gets worse & takes over?
Paint that picture 👆
Then offer the solution. Perfect for multi-part email funnels!
This is a super looooong formula, but it works so well for a multi-part email funnel (or blog post series) for your next launch!
Attention – Hook me with the biggest problem you can solve.
Interest – Why should I be interested?
Credibility – Who are you & why should I listen to you?
Prove – Show me. I want to see social proof.
Benefits – Time for a bullet-point list
Scarcity – Tell me why I can only get this for a short time.
Action – What do I do next?
Warn – What am I leaving on the table if I don’t take action? What might my life look like if I pass up this offer?
Now – Make me take action.
Cut the fluff & get right to the point with this formula.
Picture: Build up the desire by painting a picture (remember, emotion is good. Just make sure you lead with their biggest want/emotion. Not your own.)
Promise: Tell me what’s in it for me?
Prove: Show me how others trusted you to do this, and it worked.
Push: Get me to take action & commit.
This formula works so well for almost any copy writing need: email marketing, ad copy,sales page, blog post, etc. It’s quick to write & super easy to remember. You really can’t lose with this one.
Bonus myth? The idea that results from content marketing can be abstract, so they don’t need to be tracked.
It’s true that pitting engagement & performance against return on investment can feel a little bit like comparing apples to oranges, but both are really important markers to keep track of.
In fact, marketers (aka: small biz owners, CEO’s, boss ladies… people like YOU) who document & closely track their strategy tend to have more success than those who don’t.
Depending on your goals, one might be more relevant than the other for a certain period of time. Trying to build an audience? Set content engagement & performance goals. If sales are your goal, ROI is where most of your focus should go.
Yes, ideally, your content strategy should bring you results in BOTH areas.
But, when it comes to getting the most out of your strategy for the quarter, just choose one, set your goals & find the best way for you to track your results. (CMI has a great freebie you can download if you need help with this!)
a final note
If you’re anything like me, I find that conventional wisdom/popular advice just adds to the confusion & anxiety when it comes to strategy in my business.
My hope is that having a few of the most popular content myths busted gives you freedom & clarity you need to start creating content that works for you, your audience & your goals.
And now that you’ve got a little creative content brain space freed-up, download my list of 36 questions your content must answer. These questions are designed to take the stress & confusion out of creating content – giving you confidence that every piece of information you put out is as helpful & effective as it can be.