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How to Create Content That Sells

Authors: Doug Kessler Doug Kessler
Posted Under: Content Marketing
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How to Create Content That Sells
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The rise of content marketing has created a kind of content apartheid in which overtly promotional content is the second class citizen and helpful, non-selling content is the privileged class.

I’m a huge fan of Jay’s ‘Youtility’ approach – it’s clearly the high road to revenue – but I also feel that all content is on the same spectrum and needs to be held to the same standards.

And if you’re marketing a disruptive product or service, hard-sell copy is a hugely important part of your content mix.

If you’re asking prospects to change what they’ve always done for a new way of doing things, you’re going to need to convince them before you can convert them.

With that in mind, Velocity created a Slideshare about content that sells. I’ll let you thumb through it before continuing:

Why Marketers Aren’t Doing This Enough

Because content marketing is fairly new (in its digital incarnation anyway), everyone is focusing on this new beast:

The top-of-funnel, issue-driven, journalist, ‘look ma, no selling’ kind of content.

That’s good. But too many marketers are foregoing the old-school, ‘look-‘em-in-the-eye’, objection-busting, inertia-fighting content that is often needed to move a prospect to action.

This selling content isn’t always a bottom-of-the-funnel piece, reserved for when the prospect is about to make a decision (though it’s vital here too).  It can also be a top-of-funnel piece designed to get a prospect into the funnel in the first place.

For disruptive products, getting a prospect to accept the need to change is job one. And that’s never an easy task.

Finding a Balance

The kind of content I’m advocating isn’t a return to the ‘me-me-me’ kind of promotion. It’s still prospect-centered, it still needs to tell a story well, and it’s still about the issues your audience cares most about.

But content that sells is happy to expose its agenda. To say, “I’m here to get you to change what you’re doing and think seriously about a new approach.”

Put this together with the helpful content that makes up the bulk of your content marketing program and you’ve got yourself a revenue machine.

Two Examples

Here’s a Slideshare we did for Data Sift, a company that’s disrupting social data analysis.

In some ways, it’s like an old-school brochure – it takes off the gloves and sells – but it’s also doing an important content marketing job: Evangelizing a new layer in the analytics stack.

And here’s a piece for Sprint Business evangelizing a new way to deploy IT in a business. Even the title says what change it’s asking the prospect to consider:

Have these pieces single-handedly made cold prospects pick up the phone and beg DataSift and Sprint to sell to them? Maybe not yet (and maybe I was exaggerating a tad in our Slideshare).

But they both do a vital job in the overall content mix: They identify the changes in the world that necessitate change in the prospect. And until you win this battle, your sales guys don’t have much of a chance.

Take a look: Does your content marketing program have this kind of content in it – or are you too shy to sell?

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