Not all content is created equal.
If you're creating content yet it's not really working for you, either you're still not getting leads or sales not where they need to be, you might not be creating actionable content. You're simply being busy; and that's wasteful.
Actionable content allows user to take an action. Note the word "allows," I did not say "persuades" for a reason. Sales copy needs to be persuasive, but when it comes to inbound content it needs to be clear and to educate your prospect to allow them to take an action. It's a natural progression, if you're doing it right and at the end there's an action you want them to take.
The problem is most content isn't actionable. It's just there, or worse, it was written with purely SEO goals in mind. Most content is created for the sake of being created, so you can say that you're doing marketing. When content isn't actionable, you're wasting your time and money. That's why you're not getting any results, that's why it's hard to measure content marketing ROI.
Creating Actionable Content
Technically, when you add a call to action to your content (for example, request for a demo), it becomes actionable. The problem is, most people will not act on it. Here's why.
To act, they must trust you. If the content you've created, like a blog post, does not establish trust they will not act and convert. Simply having a call to action is like giving someone a car without keys and gas, you know it can go forward but you have no resources necessary to make it go forward.
Here's how I create actionable content that earns trust and converts:
It's really simple. Your entire case rests on fixing your prospects pain with your piece of content. People are selfish, "Me, me, me!" You, on the other hand, need to stop being selfish, focus on "Them, them, them!"
It doesn't matter if it's a blog post, article, video, ebook, etc. It must fix prospects pain first and foremost. If it doesn't fix pain for them, it's worthless as an actionable piece of content. There are other types of content where you don't need an action (thought leadership, for example), that's where you don't need to fix a specific pain - but to get them to act you must fix pain.
- Fix pain for your prospect, for them to engage and care (they're selfish).
- When you fix pain, you provide a solution and it creates value for prospect.
- When you create value, you begin building a relationship with them.
- When you build a relationship with someone, you begin to earn their trust.
- When you earn trust, the walls come down and they will act on your call.
Over the years, I came to a realization that you can't build trust. You must earn it. What you build instead are relationships. Relationships bridge the gap between your ideal customer's pain and your solutions, making it inevitable that they will purchase from you.
It's a critical point, let me say it again:
Relationships bridge the gap between your ideal customers' pain and your solution, making it inevitable that they will purchase from you.
Building relationships is what I do with my business. I value relationships with our clients more than a simple transaction, and I tell my clients "no" often even though I could make a buck on fulfilling their request.
Consultants get hired for a reason, but most lack the backbone to say no and hold their ground because cash flow makes decisions.
In B2B world, build relationships with people. Earlier this year a marketing executive left a company I was working with, not only did I continue working with this company because of relationships with other contacts but the executive that left extended our relationship to the new job and the new company. Build relationships, they earn you trust. A nice a side effect of great relationships are those transactions that pay your bills.
Figuring out your ideal customer's pain points is part of creating your overall inbound marketing strategy. Once you know what pain your ideal customers have, you can create actionable content that attracts and converts them. If you think you're creating actionable content because you are fixing your customer's pain, than it is very likely that either you don't really know your customers (and their pain) or you're attracting the wrong kind of customers who will never convert.
Just because someone fits within your criteria of a target market, does not automatically make them your ideal customer. Keep that in mind.