Content marketing is a powerful tool for building trust between your business and your potential customers. Many business owners and marketers worry about oversharing. What if you give all of your best stuff away, and people just take your content to solve their own problems?
Who is Your Ideal Customer?
When thinking about your content marketing strategy, before you worry about what kind of content you need and how much of your secret sauce you should share, you need to get clear on who you are serving.
People who are looking to do things for themselves are not your target buyers. You are selling a solution. Your ideal customers want a full solution, not a blueprint for solving their problems on their own. The freebie seekers and the do-it-yourselfers are not your ideal customers. You don’t need to worry about them.
If none of your target buyers convert into paying customers, this means that you have a problem with your business model, not that you overshared. It means you are not solving a sufficiently painful problem. You may want to change your business model to focus on advertising or affiliate commissions instead of direct product or service sales.
Self-Help and Lawyers
I fell into copywriting after burning out as an attorney. Most of my early clients were lawyers. The most successful lawyers had tons of content that took readers step-by-step through complicated legal issues.
The law firms that struggled to make content marketing to work were also afraid of oversharing. These firms worried people wouldn’t want a lawyer if they could use content to solve problems on their own.
Why did the oversharing lawyers prosper?
When a potential client comes across an article that describes their exact situation and details exactly how to resolve the problem, one of three things tended to happen.
One, the reader would bookmark the site and move on. Most of the time, they never came back to the article.
Two, the reader took the information and tried to solve their issue by themselves. Most of the readers in this category lacked the resources to pay attorney fees.
Three, the reader would see that the law firm was transparent, wanted to help them, understood their problem, and had the expertise to make the legal problem go away. These readers became clients.
Anyone can read your content, but you should only be writing it for your ideal customer. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does with your content. It only matters that you convert a large percentage of your ideal buyers.
How to Share Content
There are three main types of business content:
1. Content that answers why you need to do something
2. Content that tells you what/when you need to do something
3. Content that tells you how to do something.
Content that answers the “How” question is the most valuable. This is the stuff that some businesses worry about giving away.
I once had a prospective client who required their team of marketing freelancers to sign a non-disclosure agreement to see their white papers. Even prospective customers had to get verified before being sent a white paper. They were paranoid about the competition seeing their marketing materials. I passed on the opportunity because I can’t help a business succeed that needs to keep its marketing a secret.
For your content marketing to be at peak effectiveness, it needs to be part of a funnel. You want to make sure that you are only selling to your ideal customers.
Blog content, guides, lead magnets, and explainer videos work well at the top of the funnel. You should create content at the top of the funnel that explains to your audience why they need your solution.
This type of content allows you to prove you understand your customers’ pain and that you speak their language.
The next stage of the funnel should use more detailed content. It needs to answer what people need to do to be ready for your solution or when they should implement your solution. Blogs and videos work well for this stage as well.
However, you want to be working on adding your most interested readers to your email list. You can also use your email newsletter to provide more detailed information than what you post in public.
The final stage of your sales funnel should be happening on your email list, or depending on your business, in person or over the phone. The content you use to close the sale needs to be your most useful content. This is where you explain to the buyer how you solve the problem they are most troubled by.
You save the most valuable content for your email newsletter because these are the readers that are closest to becoming buyers. You want them to feel that they are getting something exclusive. You are auditioning. You have the chance to show them how you will treat them as customers. You need to give them the VIP treatment.
The Case for Not Holding Anything Back
You only buy from people you trust. Why would you trust someone who is holding information back from you? When you use content to giveaway incredible value, your readers stop seeing you as a salesperson and instead see you as an advisor. They are happy to pay you because they believe you can deliver the solution you have been painstakingly describing in your content.
Content marketing will not convert most of your readers. But, if done properly, it will convert most of your ideal buyers. Everyone else will fall out of your funnel.
Your content strategy needs to be geared towards driving away buyers who are not right for your business and only closing the deal with people who are excited to work with you.
Think about the difference you feel when you have to eat at some greasy fast-food restaurant because it’s the only place open for hundreds of miles and how you feel when you go out to an expensive restaurant for a special occasion.
You want to be the nice restaurant where your customers are excited to dine. Your content marketing funnel puts your customers in the mindset of being excited to work with you.
Content marketing isn’t a way to trick people into doing business with you. It isn’t even about persuading reluctant buyers. Content marketing is about preparing your customers for the best experience of their lives.