Content marketing has been a popular buzzword in the past few years. As true "editorial" inbound links, then later social shares, have become more important factors in driving traffic, marketers and SEOs realized that publishing interesting, noteworthy, and remarkable free content was a great way to attract visitors.
The idea of a content-marketing-driven funnel is pretty straightforward...
So far so good. It means that businesses and marketers have invested a lot of thought and energy into creating "good content" that their target market should like, with mixed success.
But there's a problem. It is perfectly possible to do all the right things, following the steps above perfectly, and to get zero business benefit (i.e. conversions).
How? Well, first you need to understand that not everyone in your target market is equal.
What's your target market? Let's say you're a web designer, and you decide your target market is, "Small businesses in my town."
You get to choose your market, right? But you also need to consider that there's a difference between everyone who could hire you and those who should hire you.
If we started with a broad description: "All small businesses in my town" as your target market, that represents the whole archery target. But if you hit the edge of the archery target, guess what? You don't score anything! You've wasted your shot!
What we're doing here may seem negative, but in fact is very positive. By carefully restricting your highest-value target market, you will be able to get maximum value from your marketing.
What you should be doing in business is identify the subset of your market that represents your ideal clients. Your ideal clients may be the ones who will…
Once you get picky and start to distinguish your most profitable targets from your less profitable (or unprofitable) ones, you're in a position to do better targeting.
Better targeting really means shooting for the bullseye with a laser-targeted sniper rifle, instead of settling for aiming for the whole target with a blunderbuss or splurge gun.
It may seem counter-intuitive to constrain and reduce your target market — but it isn't!
Speak to any AdWords consultant, and they'll tell you that one of the biggest mistakes beginners make in pay-per-click is to aim too broad.
In fact, fine-tuning your target market can make all the difference, helping to get you more sales, as well as dramatically driving up your average sale value and your profits.
I call this principle "polarizing" because it works like a magnet.
Magnets have positive and negative poles. A weak magnet has a weak positive and weak negative, but a powerful — more polarized — magnet has strong positive and negative.
Here's the thing… When you have the conviction to say, "This is exactly what we do, and exactly who we do it for, and this is what we don't do and whom we don't serve," two things will happen…
Now you know who you're really targeting, how can you apply those insights in content marketing?
The goal is to publish offers that, by their very nature, will automatically identify your preferred prospects.
Speak to an expert fly fisherman, and he'll tell you why certain lures (or ties) are perfect for attracting certain types of fish in particular conditions.
The same goes when you're fishing for sales. You need to use the right bait to attract exactly the prospect you want.
Lots of people use a generic bait, that's designed to appeal to the whole archery target. That's a mistake. Because you're investing your time, your energy, and often your cash to drive traffic to your content. And, because the content isn't polarizing, you'll likely get a lower proportion of your ideal prospects.
I'd like to share with you a simple process that I've been working on with my Inner Circle group, which is designed specifically to generate perfect topic titles.
One of my favorite marketing techniques is to picture the ideal customer, after they have bought what I'm selling, and then to play the movie backwards in time and imagine what must have had to happen, and what must have been true, to set the scene for the successful conversion.
That trick can be really helpful when you're planning content marketing topics.
What will have attracted your future ideal customers — the ones who are going to buy? I'll share my thoughts with you here.
So ideally you're looking for a single line, your topic title, which does all these things.
Brian McFarlane is an expert marketer, and also one of my Inner Circle group members. In our meeting this week, we tried out the "Perfect Topic" method on one of Brian's marketing propositions.
Brian's business is ProfileSpring, which helps business professionals to sell themselves and/or their products and services more effectively on LinkedIn. He does this through helping craft compelling LinkedIn profiles and by training his clients in social selling.
We worked through the steps above. We started by identifying Brian's ideal customer.
The broad archery target we started with was "salespeople or sales managers", but we realized we could work inward, focusing down to a smaller group.
In fact, Brian's ideal customer would probably work for a medium-sized enterprise. Smaller prospects probably would not be willing to pay the fees (from a few hundred dollars for profile work, up to several thousand dollars per month for on-going LinkedIn campaign management). And really big enterprises tend to play safe and not hire small outfits like ProfileSpring.
They also tend to be involved in B2B or corporate sales.
Furthermore, Brian communicated that his perfect clients tended to be pretty experienced in their field, with typically at least ten years of sales experience under their belts. These guys had seen many changes in the marketplace over the years, so they had a degree of pragmatism and wisdom, and their common motivation was often that they wanted to find new, effective ways of selling.
Then, Brian hit on the seam of gold! As he was describing the scenario his ideal prospects find themselves in, he said,
"Their traditional sales methods are dead."
That was the hook we were looking for! There was a problem, and it was time-based. Something used to work, and doesn't anymore. Perhaps we could explain why those methods no longer worked?
We needed to include "corporate sales" specifically, so it became…
"Why Your Traditional Corporate Sales Methods Don't Work Anymore"
But then we wanted to isolate those sales professionals who had been in the business for several years, so we adapted the topic title further…
"Why the Traditional Corporate Sales Techniques You Used Successfully in 2005 Don't Work Anymore"
(You could always add a sub-title, perhaps promising a positive benefit with something like, "And what you should be doing to grow your sales organization in 2015.")
Let's analyze this final topic title.
We managed to achieve all that with a single topic title. This topic could be delivered via a webinar, an ebook, a video, or a variety of other media.
Anyone who is attracted to this topic will naturally be someone who has a lot to gain from solving their sales problem, and that means they'll probably be happy to invest!
It took us maybe twenty minutes to arrive at that title. But it gave Brian bait that will accurately laser-target his promotions at exactly the right people…