Don’t Share Salesy Content: 16 Smarter Ways To Lead Prospects Into The Funnel
The inbound method of marketing involves creating and distributing content that your target audience values, along with a strong call to action that will prompt them to click, read, subscribe or take another step further into your sales and marketing funnel. If a prospective customer opens an email from your company that promises to provide insights or information they want or need, and instead sees a soft sales pitch, your efforts can backfire.
No one wants to be sold to when they’re simply seeking information to help them solve their problems; it turns their hunt for useful knowledge into a game of scratching companies off their list of potential solutions for being too transactional. To avoid coming across as salesy in your content, losing the trust of interested prospects and leading them to back out of your marketing funnel, check out the tips from 16 members of Forbes Agency Council below.
1. Lean Into Why People Want Your Product
First, understand what you are selling. Rolex sells luxury, not watches. Durex sells safety, not condoms. 24 Hour Fitness sells confidence, not gym memberships. Every brand stands on desires and results, not products or services; lean into the “why” behind people wanting your product. Next, define your brand archetype. People identify with brands because they see those brands as an extension of themselves. – Justin Buckley, ATTN Agency
2. Leverage Sales Team Data In Gated Content
Leverage your sales team’s data so that your marketing team can craft targeted messages in gated content (white papers, webinars, and so on) to generate qualified leads. By understanding your customers and their behaviors, you can meet them in the spaces where they’re already spending time. Then, when consumers read your content, it will feel engaging and relevant—not salesy or disruptive. – Becca Apfelstadt, treetree
3. Tap Into And Solve The Audience’s Challenges
Brands must finally, truly focus on the interests and potential challenges of their target audience and learn how to offer advice, solutions or inspiration to address these. While businesses naturally believe their product is the solution, it’s your expertise that’s needed first to build trust. Create downloadable checklists and guides or publish in-depth articles to provide inspiration or valuable advice. – Melanie Marten, The Coup
4. Ensure Readers Can Derive Value
I always begin—and edit—with my “Who Cares?” philosophy in mind. To ensure the content is audience-focused rather than brand-focused, I ask myself if readers can derive value from my words. Have I made their lives, workdays or buying decisions easier? Ultimately, will they be glad they invested their time and attention in my content, and is it information they’d be proud to share with others? – Scott Greggory, MadAveGroup
5. Don’t Mention Your Product Or Service
It’s simple—don’t sell. Sometimes, not even mentioning your product or services is the best route. Have related articles that the user can click on to get more information. As they read more and more, they will get to know and trust your brand. They will then find you when the time is right for a sale. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
6. Motivate Before Educating
It’s better to motivate or inspire before you educate. It’s hard to educate a reader until they are motivated to dig in enough to stop, look and consider. Motivate before educating; we buy based on emotion first, facts second. – John Davies, Davies Public Affairs
7. Share Your Expertise Without Selling It
I don’t need to tell you how great we are at PR, or why you should hire us. I’m going to share why PR could be valuable and influential to your business. A company has to be willing to give the prospect some freedom for discovery. We have to stop trying to lead a horse to water. They will remember you told them water is good for them. – Dean Trevelino, Trevelino/Keller
8. Guide Customers To Stay Ahead Of Challenges
We focus our content on solving customers’ challenges, and in our industry—where data privacy issues and fast-changing technology trends can make or break the success of campaigns—there are plenty of challenges for marketers to overcome. We have built our business around guiding customers to not only successfully navigate those challenges but also stay ahead of them. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
9. Always Be Answering Prospects’ Questions
Always create content that is answering your prospect’s questions. A great place to start is by asking your sales team what common questions they get regularly from prospects. From there, build a content calendar with blogs, videos, checklists, podcasts and more to simply answer those questions. By doing this, you create helpful content to pull prospects into your marketing and sales funnel. – Elyse Flynn Meyer, Prism Global Marketing Solutions
10. Focus On Problems Your Skills And Knowledge Can Solve
People turn to the internet to solve problems—from answering specific questions to learning new skills or tactics. Don’t preach, and don’t sell. Instead, ask yourself what problems your customers have that your skills or knowledge can solve, then create content that helps solve those problems in an authentic way. You will be rewarded with traffic and authority ranking. – Dan Kahn, Kahn Media, Inc.
11. Do The ‘Marketing Macarena’ To Drive Connections
There is nothing more powerful than earning your right to market, which comes with your ability to empathize by sharing value versus selling products. Ultimately, the rules of human connection prevail, which is why I often advise brands to follow the “marketing Macarena” dance in all they do—first getting to the heart, then the mind and then the wallet, in that order—to drive meaningful connections. – Lili Gil Valletta, CIEN+
12. Locate Pain Points And Write For Your Grandma
Always begin where the pain points are located and write as if you are telling your grandma how to fix it. For example, if you often get asked in sales meetings how you stack up to competitors, you might write about the best ways to choose, in general, and not offer a comparison table. In the former, you’re giving advice; in the latter, you’re selling. – Christine Wetzler, Pietryla PR & Marketing
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13. Empower Audiences With An Ecosystem Of Helpful Content
We view our brand as a trusted advisor. With this in mind, it’s never about a sale. It’s about empowering the audience to achieve more. We always put our content through the lens of, “So what?” In other words, how is this content going to benefit the audience? How is it going to rock their world? If you build an ecosystem of compelling content that’s ridiculously helpful, everyone wins in the end. – Tom Shapiro, Stratabeat
14. Sidestep Stale Sales Pitches With Structured Creator Partnerships
Creator partnerships can be structured to sidestep this all-too-common pitfall: Instead of a script of stale sales pitches, provide influencers with content prompts that allow for flexible brand storytelling. Emphasize genuine emotions and real-life perspectives that allow brand ambassadors to bring products and services to life in a relatable, audience-centric way. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group
15. Know What To Sell In Each Step Of The Funnel
For example, on Instagram, your feed posts are all going to strangers. You should never sell at this point. Only provide 100% value so that they will follow you. Instagram Stories, on the other hand, is only for followers, so you want to nurture, build relationships and get them to direct message you. Never sell on the front-end, only on the back-end. – Sun Yi, Night Owls
16. Feed Top-Of Funnel Curiosity More Than Clickbait
The bottom of the sales funnel should ask for the order. But content in the top of the funnel should be more than clickbait. Find cultural waves, breaking news, product innovations, top-ten lists and influencer topics that appeal to our innate curiosity, then drive them deeper into the funnel with exclusivity, and end with limited time to activate. Optimize and repeat. – Matt Wilson, Eastport Holdings
This article originally appeared on Forbes.
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