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Archives for April 2008

Who, What and So What?

When you are writing, what is your first thought?

If it is what you are going to write, I expect that would put you in with the majority.

“Who for” is perhaps a more important part of the equation. Connecting to your audience, bringing them something value, means addressing who they are.

A much overlooked aspect though is “So What?”. What should the reader take away? Where is the benefit? Why should we listen to you?

Look over your recent posts. Is the “So What” clear or are you assuming the reader will be able to work it out?

So often we think the “So What” is plain, but that is making a big assumption. Without benefiting from what you write the reader is unlikely to stick around. If they can’t relate what you write to what they need they are unlikely to perceive any benefit.

Picture a snotty, loud-mouthed brat shouting it after every sentence. “So What So What So What”. That will make you remember that “Because I say so” does not cut it, for the brat or for your non-bratty audience.  

Just the facts is not going to work, back up “features and facts” with something meaningful to what matters to your audience right now.

If you offer advice, tell them why they should take it. When offering a service or solution, spell out the benefits in a way that will resonate. If you are warning about a potential problem, tell them the consequences.

My advice is to not only address your readers concerns but also tell them exactly why they should care.

  • Why? Because if you do then they are more likely to take your advice.
  • So What? Because if they take your advice they are more likely to benefit and therefore value it.
  • So What? If they value your advice they are more likely to spend money with you or tell their friends.
  • So What? That is where long term growth and value comes from.

And we all want that, right?

Drawing More Readers with Inspiring Aspirations

Drawing More Readers with Inspiring Aspirations

One of the big struggles when you are launching a business blog, is how to write content that will both appeal to your audience and have some connection to what you have to offer.

I have been helping a couple of clients pull their blog topics together, they both were frustrated that there was apparently very little to talk about the widgets they sell. The solution for both was the same, even though they are in starkly different industries. You might find the same solution works for you also, even if you have nothing to sell.

What motivates your audience? Not just “interests” but really motivates?

How does this connect with what you do and how you do it?

This is why it is helpful to create a very detailed Mind Map, talk to potential or existing customers, get into your audience head space. Otherwise there are opportunities you can miss.

Without giving away my clients niches before they even launch, both sold something seemingly straightforward and practical, but there was something for each that connected with the audiences self-identity and aspirations. One was in the way the product ingredients were sourced and manufactured, the other in the customers overall life goal.

Rather than creating a “widget blog”, talk to topics that will make your audience really take notice. We often talk about addressing needs and problems, but when you are talking about products and services you can also address your readers sense of purpose, hopes and dreams.

Goals, Inspiration and Aspirations

What is the ultimate benefit you are the solution or part of the solution for?

  • Make more money
  • Freedom and free time
  • Be famous, Prestige
  • Safety and security
  • Adventure and excitement

World View and Activism

Are your potential customers facing a challenge, are they of a particular moral/political/advocate group? Do they share beliefs with you?

  • Fair Trade
  • Environment
  • Organic
  • Alternative Energy

Successful Inspiring Blogs

Consider the following successful blogs, what are the aspirations behind them?

Some are obvious, some not immediately obvious, but all have a promise that they deliver on. Everything from “make more money” to “look good without spending a fortune”.

This blog you are reading has a promise connected to my services (build more business through new media), but the promise with real crystal clarity I spun off into Authority Blogger.

Where do you fit Into your readers world?

Rather than just focusing on your widgets or services, think how you can fit into your customers world. What can you talk about that is inspiring, fills a need but also connects authentically to what you do and offer.

For any blog you need to go beyond merely supplying information or being “kinda useful”, if you do not connect in some way to what really matters to your audience, then you will get lost amongst the sea of alternatives and the many distractions of modern life.

Can you think of any other brands or blogs that are attracting readers through inspiration and aspiration?

ProBlogger Book Winners

Last week I gave you Five Ways to Win the ProBlogger Book I guess I had better give you the winners :)

I will let Darren select his own Twitter follower.

If you have already ordered then never fear, the spare book will make an excellent gift or blog competition prize!

There is still another opportunity to win, sign up to ProBlogger or subscribe to this blog via email and you will be in with multiple chances to win right up to the day the book is released.

Good luck :)

Engaging Readers

If you are blogging for a purpose it is not enough just to attract attention, we need things to happen as a consequence. That means at least providing the right content to the right people. As I have said many times before, while many people are looking for “traffic”, you can often be more successful […]

Mixing Tactics and Making Sales

In my previous post I wrote how educating customers can provide more sales, increased trust and loyalty. Richard asked in the comments if people took this advice would advertising diminish. I started answering as a comment but then I realized the issue deserved a full post. Advertising Versus Blogging? So first things first, do I […]

Blogging for Informed Sales in a Competitive Market

Sometimes blogging can be the difference between making a sale and giving the sale to a competitor.

What do I mean?

I was talking to a client the other day who was moving from Pay Per Click marketing of his products into SEO and blogging. His widget is expensive so while the per click price is not up there with lawyers and loans, the sheer quantity it takes to make a sale works out just as expensive or even more. Their PPC budget is in the tens of thousands a month. With that kind of overhead, trying SEO and blogging is a no-brainer.

There are loads of markets where a similar strategy makes sense. A key reason is “customer education”

Educate to Sell

As Brian says, Teaching Sells. In any market where the customer needs to be educated in order to sell to them, anyone who uses “Advert to Sales page” as an approach is going to lose a lot of sales. That is because 90% of your audience is not ready to buy (yet).

Flip that around though, what do bloggers do best? Produce engaging content!

Educating customers is good for bloggers, bad for advertising-only companies

If you talk to the people at these companies they tell you they want more sales but customers aren’t ready to buy. They increase their brand advertising spend, optimize their adwords campaigns. Basically fix what isn’t broken.

There are a series of books by a brilliant guy called Dr Goldratt (makes me think of a James Bond character!), who invented the “Theory of Constraints“. This idea basically tells you to find the constraint in a system and prioritize it. In our scenario here, the customers knowledge is the constraint, not the advertising.

Sales Education Cycle

Take the simplistic example of Digital Photography. You start not being aware of very much about the topic, but you might hear or see something that makes you interested. It could be an ad, a friend, newspaper mention, could be anything. At this point you are aware, moving toward interested.

The more you learn, the more interested you get, so you do some research. You buy magazines, look online, read reviews. Adverts will interest you more but they are not going to get you to extract your credit card until you are good and ready.

Only when you have done your research (models, brands, complexity, learning curve, capability, price, and so on) will you buy, but even then you will research where to buy.

That adwords ad is looking less effective now, isn’t it? Adwords are great, but if you are using them to make a direct sale, they only work for a specific part of the buying cycle and only when paired up with the “buying” keywords. Comparator sites can be as effective if competing on price.

It doesn’t end there, as anyone who has become addicted to photography will tell you. You have bought your camera but there is a whole world of photography related purchases. As you learn your camera you find you need to upgrade, or you want a new lens (or 10), a flash, tripod, bag, various other widgets and do-dads. Yup, the cycle starts all over again. You are not the same customer before, it is an entirely new cycle of education to purchase.

Blogs, or at least content, fit in very well into this model. It could be gardening, cigar reviews, business to business, many markets need to be educated before they will buy.

Blog to Educate and Inform

Teach customers what they need to know and you build trust and loyalty. Bring them along on their journey, show them they can rely on you to steer them right.

Does it really work? Put it this way, I and my friends have spent a few thousand dollars through the Strobist affiliate links. One company seems to realize the value in the content and are advertising that they stock what David recommends. I imagine they get better sales for a much lower cost than had they tried the PPC route.

ScribeFire 2.0 Released

One of the best things to come out of the original incarnation of Performancing was the Firefox extension for bloggers. Originally called Performancing for Firefox, when Performancing was sold to Splashpress it was rebranded ScribeFire (the software was not part of the sale). I’m pleased to learn that Patrick has not abandoned it, but has […]

Five Ways to Win the ProBlogger Book

ProBlogger Book Free PDF DownloadWant to win a copy of the ProBlogger Book?

Each of the following will give you a separate chance to win another copy of the book, five opportunities, one book per list. If you win twice or have already ordered a copy, you can always hold your own competition!

Existing members and followers are already in with a chance of winning. The winners will be chosen at random on Friday.

Good luck!

How to Get More Value from Your Site

When we put up a website, blog or even an article, in most cases we do so hoping for the visitor to do a particular thing, take a specific action. Those actions are called conversions. We are converting the visitor into something else, a subscriber, a customer, and so on.

As you know from daily life, getting people to do what you want them to can be tricky. We have our own agendas, we see the world differently, there is also self interest, which can work for or against you.

That is why many bloggers and webmasters take the easy route. They don’t even try to get any real conversions, they are happy to sit at the bottom of the web metric food chain.

The value pyramid looks something like this, but obviously will differ from case to case:

Web Metric Value Pyramid

Traffic

As you can see, when dealing with CPM (page impression based ads), you are only concerned with the bottom two rungs, visits and page views. They are the easiest to obtain and therefore the lowest value. Your visitor here doesn’t need to like what they see and might have been tricked into visiting. Traffic is not a sign of quality.

Click Throughs

Next up is the clicks. If you make money from Adsense or other pay per click ads, this is where you spend your effort. You might also try to get many clicks as a way of influencing other webmasters. When people see a site in their referrers generating a lot of traffic they tend to take notice.

Another value to take from clicks is if you deal with a wide appeal affiliate merchant like eBay or Amazon. Those clicks can eventually turn into sales but the selling is not your problem, all you need to do is drop that affiliate cookie onto the visitors browser and the merchant does all the hard work.

Again, clicks are not a sign of quality. The visitor might be just wanting to get away, to anywhere but here. In fact, many Adsense webmasters count on just that.

Loyal Readers

Now we are in the zone where a blogger or webmaster has to earn their money. You don’t get return visits, or subscribers without offering some value. Even more true with opt-ins as the visitor needs to trust you not to spam them or pass on the list to someone else who will. Up until this point you could have been automating, spamming and churning out pages by the thousand with not a care for quality.

When you want people to return, that is when you need to get serious about your content.

You need to concentrate on not just demonstrating value on the first visit, but showing enough promise that there will be value in future for them to give you another try. Hopefully you will do a good enough job that they will keep checking in on you and turn into loyal readers.

Leads and Sales

You will have no doubt heard many times that “the value is in the list”, and it is broadly true. If you get a lot of people to want to hear from you on a regular basis, more importantly if you have an engaged audience, then you should be able to make sales.

A number of times you will have read me say that I would rather have a smaller and more engaged readership, and now you know why. Across the properties I own, part own, write for or work with, I have access to millions of page views. I would give all those page views up for ten people who really want to hear from me. Just think about that for a second. Wouldn’t you?

Unlike many bloggers, my mortgage gets paid when people believe in me enough that they seek my advice on blogging, new media and internet marketing. I love to see a Digg front page as much as the next guy, and there is a certain value in that, but if people just click or view pages then my bills don’t get paid.

To make a sale, and even more to get repeat sales, you have to step right up and show real value and engender enough trust to overcome the very significant objections of doing business over the internet. You have to show that not only is your product or service worth the money, but that you can be trusted to deliver what you promised.

Plus of course you have to ask for the sale.

Loyal Customers and Fans

When you deliver on your promise, then you have a chance at repeat custom. Even better,  if you delight your customer, you might just get a fan or two.

In order to do this your customer must experience your product or service in the most positive way possible. You are not merely delivering a package and saying “bye bye”. That product has to more than meet expectations, be more than just “worth what was paid for”. The customer needs to reap the benefits of what they were sold.

This isn’t always possible, it’s not a perfect world, but you must try. The pay off is someone who will forever sing your praises, and the value of someone willing to tell the world how great you are is beyond measure.

Summary

When you are thinking about what you are doing online, do not be content with merely attracting traffic and gaining some clicks. The real value is in the relationships, the trust and the actual value you can create. Are you truly helping people or are you just going through the motions and writing the appropriate keywords?

It might be with a smaller audience you create more value for both you and your audience. Worth considering, right?

ProBlogger Book Preview

ProBlogger Book Free PDF DownloadIf you want to have a taste of what is in store when you buy the ProBlogger Book we have a treat for you. We just uploaded the special preview to the email signup success page. So now, when you sign up to the email list and confirm, you get access to download the PDF.

Now I know some of you have found a PDF on the Wiley site, and some of you have been curious to know why the PDF wasn’t already available. Well, we have been waiting for this version to be built for us, we wanted something a bit more meaty to give you a proper preview. So even if you have the version off the Wiley site, download this one. Our version is a bit more polished and contains more content.

We hope you like it!

A few people have asked how the sales are going. To tell you the truth, we don’t know yet exactly BUT the book has been going up and down in the Amazon best seller rankings like a yo-yo! At one point ours was the best selling book in the “internet” category, which is quite an achievement to say the book isn’t out for a couple of weeks.

ProBlogger Book #1 in

Remember, right now if you pre-order online you get additional discounts.

As many people have pointed out, even without the pre-order discount our print book is less expensive than many much smaller ebooks out there, and this one has been printed out for you :)

Get more details about the book at the ProBlogger Book site.