Selling with blogs?
It’s not so long ago that I might have gotten myself lynched for merely suggesting such a distasteful thing.
Slowly though the blogosphere is coming around to the idea that commerce is not necessarily evil, that in fact businesses need to make money and that they do that by selling stuff.
Blogs are actually well-suited to generating sales leads.
Look at the AIDA formula
Without even resorting to pressure sales tactics you can easily see how blogs with the right content can tick off the first three almost casually. The last, “action”, can be trickier but as you will see, the solution is common sense.
So how do you create Attention, Interest and Desire with a blog?
Blogs gather you a targeted audience, then drip-drip-drip the necessary benefit-lead, fact-filled, objection-busting content to your prospects – without feeling like they are being sold to.
Think about it, how do you like to be “sold”, would you rather have an in-your-face pressure sales presentation, or would you like to take information in on your own terms and schedule?
With your blog you can sell with information. Present the ideas, proof, testimonials and case studies. Your prospects warm to the idea, then you show them where they can go to find out more and buy.
So we get to Action
Nothing happens until your prospect takes action. You can’t wait for them to work it out for themselves but on the other hand ask for too much too soon and you blow it. Get them ready then offer them the opportunity to take action. Keep offering the opportunity, wherever it is relevant.
It’s no good having lots of great persuasive content without giving the prospect a way to buy in. You must have action links and buttons. Help them do what you want them to do.
My personal approach is a series of small agreements.
- Click through to blog
- Read content
- Subscribe to blog
- Sign up to email newsletter/course
- Free sample
- Low cost product
- Higher cost product
- Big-assed profit rocket 😉
You get the idea
Too many people try to go from (1) to (8) without the intermediate steps.
It’s like walking into a bar and asking the first likely candidate for your, um, affections, to go back to your place for … coffee … before you have even introduced yourself or bought them a drink.
So you have to woo your prospect. Give a little, show you are trustworthy and your stuff is good. Get them to believe your promises and reward that trust. Each step reinforces the relationship and desire builds.
Trust and belief are critical
Your prospects have to believe. How can you convince people that don’t know you to believe what you say? Well you can’t get 100% belief, and it would be foolish to try to get someone to take your word on everything from the first second of meeting you.
What you can do though is be genuine, approachable, open and most of all listen. Empathise. Provide as much proof and evidence as it takes to sway them enough to give you their first chance. Once they are pleased, and continue to be pleased the barriers come down little by little. Delight them early on, and keep positively surprising them.
Small things mean a lot
Part of customer service is solving problems, big ones, small ones, free or expensive, it doesn’t matter. Give without expectation of reward and the reciprocation effect comes into play. People want to return the favour. So give first. Small things initially, leading to bigger things.
Most people reading this will know I am a geek. Many geeks like science fiction, comics, that kind of thing. I have a favourite comic-book-guy. Why is he my favourite?
I often end up buying something from him but he never sells to me. Not once has he ever gone into a sales pitch.
He is a fan himself, not a salesman. The love of his stuff just oozes out of him and he really knows his stuff. When he doesn’t know an answer he will find out for you. If he won the lottery he would still be there the next morning, and the next. When he talks about Daleks, Spiderman, Battlestar Galactica, it is as a fan. He doesn’t jump on you as soon as you walk in and when you ask for help won’t hesitate to recommend an alternative, lower-priced item if he thinks it would be a better purchase. There is never any hassle with returns, in fact he is mortified when there is the slightest problem and moves heaven and earth to make you happy. He tells stories, makes jokes, gives you snippets of news and gossip. Geeks flock there from miles around even though his prices are often higher and he holds less stock than some of the bigger chains. His assistants are all just like him, in fact some are even more so – they hang out there on their days off, helping people when they are not even getting paid. It’s more like a social club than a shop.
Reading that over, think how you can translate this into your blog
- Genuine passion for the topic
- Expertise, credibility, authority
- Honest recommendations that really work
- Welcoming, helpful, rewarding information, given freely
- Customer evangelists, social proof, reduced barriers and risk
But … Blogs are all about “free” … right?
True, blogs are all about giving free information. Bridging the gap between free and paid is often an intimidating challenge. Don’t think of it as a difference between $0 and $N, consider it more as a challenge to show value and more value.
I give away an ebook, I write articles and don’t charge for them. People ask me questions, I answer their questions. If everything I did was free then I would soon be broke. Still I get training, coaching, consultancy and writing work. Even though I am doing one thing very wrong. I will leave that as a little pop-quiz to see if you have been taking notice 😉
The Power of Cliff-Hangers
You know the score, in books, films and tv, right at the end the hero gets into a climactic scrape and you wonder how the hero will solve the problem this time. Cliff-hangers sell the next episode, next book, film sequel.
It’s the same with selling with blogs. Don’t give it all away, hold back some stuff that needs paying for. Hint at the solution, and talk about how your solution worked well in the past. If your prospects think it is worth paying for (and it is your job to convince them) then they will pay gladly. In fact they will ask you how to pay and if you would be willing to sell it to them!
If you are selling software/gadgets/widgets you can talk about what it does, how it compares to alternatives, provide case studies of other users with before and after, interviews with happy customers, give tips on modifications and clever ways people are using it that you never anticipated. If your prospect has been unaware of your solution, or sitting on the fence about taking the plunge, this will either provide all the evidence they need or give them an idea that they can’t execute without purchasing.
“Wow, I hadn’t thought of that, instead of getting a DVR and DVD player I could just get a Mac Mini then I would also be able to play my music and show off my cat pictures with front row … and I see they are on offer … and my birthday is coming up soon”.
You are not actively “selling” or overtly persuading, they are convincing their own minds through the evidence and ideas you are presenting.
Call to actions that get clicks
A call to action could be as simple as “for more information …” but you will find that you need to work a little harder to get a better result.
What do you want the prospect to do. Why should they do it? Is there any way you can strengthen the compulsion to take action?
How about for getting signups to your free webinar (where you will educate then pitch) “limited seats available … enter your email address in the form below now to reserve your free place … “. They are promised a free and valuable offer in return for taking action right now.
I hope you can see where blogs can fit into your sales process. With a blog you can build a terrific amount of awareness, attention and desire. Blogs are perfect for attraction.
Once you have your prospects warmed up you can send them to your sales site for final conversion. Yes, I said website. In the next part I will cover where blogs fit into an overall web strategy!
Bottom line, use your blog to build desire effectively and you will find you are generating hot leads faster than ever before, without resorting to strong-arm pressure sales tactics. Better for you and your customers I am sure you will agree.