In the heady rush to launch, there’s one simple thing that most business owners overlook. It’s built on a fundamental principle that the more you say, the less people hear.
Publishing and promoting strategic blog posts leads people into your launch, improves your conversion rate and reaches new people. Referred to by marketing trainer Jeff Walker as the “sideways sales page”, strategic blogging enables you to deliver different elements of your sales page over time.
It’s built on a central communications principle that the more you attempt to include in your communications, the more you turn people off. So if you want people to see, hear and engage with your marketing, you need to drip out your communications, focusing on just one thing in each piece.
The more you say, the less we hear
Ideally, you have plenty to say about what you’re launching. You know the problems, issues or difficulties of your target market. You can visualise their lives and their feelings the problems your offering seeks to solve. You can list the benefits and likely outcomes of what you’re launching as well as the key features of what’s included.
In your excitement at launching your new thing, it’s easy to become a raving fan – with each communication attempting to squash in all the important things. But the more you try to shoehorn in these details, the less attention people will pay.
Decide on your blogging storylines
Marketing that connects and compels, magnetising the right people to your launch, tells stories. Your storylines are the connectors between your offering and the people you seek to reach. They’re the stories that illustrate the benefits – that colour in the detail between where people are at now and where they want to be.
Your storylines lead people into your launch – into reading your sales page (which you most definitely still need) and purchasing.
Each of my courses, online programs and one-to-one business coaching have their own storylines. Some of these storylines overlap. Most of these storylines appeal to the same kinds of people.
My storylines include: everybody writes for business, so you may as well learn to enjoy it; social media savvy isn’t about doing ‘all the things’ but about flirting your way into dating your clients (that’s a metaphor!); ambition is a powerful and we need to learn how to handle it; credibility and confidence are essential to building your business; making more money is about becoming better at communicating value; how much you earn in business is a feminist issue.
Your storylines become the backbone of your long-term marketing strategy: these storylines are expanded upon in your blog or marketing videos; they’re shared and discussed through your social media channels and email marketing. Over time, they build your brand reputation.
How to tease out your blogging storylines
The easiest way to start your story brainstorming is to list out every possible question that people will ask. Don’t skip this step! Too often, creative people jump straight over the brainstorming into writing – which means they’re missing out on a whole bunch more stories risking fixating on a story that isn’t as powerfully relevant as other related stories.
Go beyond your assumptions to access your empathy, shaking out every last question people are likely to have. After this, ask yourself for each question, what’s underneath this? What’s the person really asking? How can I allay the fears or insecurities which are underneath this question?
Then, start crossing out weaker stories. The ones that feel urgent are normally the best stories – write a shortlist of 5-8 storylines with the most urgent at the top.
Testing your stories
The easiest way to test out your stories before you commit to writing blogs is on social media. With your 5-8 story shortlist, think about how you could summarise this into a headline.
Headlines are massively important and useful skill in marketing and a key part of what I teach in my Blogging for Business course. Learning to craft an arresting headline also helps hone your thinking to the essence of what you’re trying to communicate.
Craft 1-3 headlines for each of your shortlist of stories. Now share these on social media and tell your story underneath. Your stories can be personal, they can be the stories of your clients or community. They can be stories of well-known people – social commentators, celebrities, industry leaders, or media personalities.
There’s no right or wrong format for testing your stories – you want to experiment and do what feels easy and congruent with your brand.
You’re seeking a response from people, so don’t forget to use all your powers of hashtags, sharing and repeating yourself, to get your social media stories out there.
Gauging responses to your stories
The worst response is no response. The best responses are strong ones so don’t run for the hills if you provoke negative responses. There’s a reason why they’re provoked – you’ve touched on something personally relevant and important to them – that’s a good thing! Remember, if someone’s engaging with you on social media, they’re seeking a response.
Many times I’ve seen people who disagree with me become new clients and fans. Your ability to sensitively and intelligently discuss and debate with them is highly useful market research and marketing.
Writing your strategic blogs
Your storylines ideally start during the pre-launch period – 3-4 weeks before you launch. This pre-launch period differs depending on the scope of what you’re launching – the time commitment your offer requires of people, your cost, and how much ego your prospects must get over in order to purchase. A good example of negotiating ego is parenting: most parents want to believe they’re doing a good job, so if you’re selling services on how to be a better parent and you’re targeting people who believe they are a good parent already, you’ve got significant ego to negotiate during your pre-launch period.
There are three main areas your stories address:
- Reservations people have about purchasing your offering
- The intended outcome and how this likely impacts the lives of your prospects
- Stories that illustrate your style and difference from your major competitors.
Typically, you begin with the intended outcome, illustrating how your benefits will apply to your prospects’ lives. Then you move onto the stories that illustrate your style and difference from your major competitors. The closer to the ‘buy now’ button you get, the more you need to address reservations people may have about purchasing. These three main areas are interwoven, but the above will help you decide where to put your emphasis at different times.
Facebook ads to promote your strategic blog posts
The obvious starting place to promote these strategic blog posts is your interest list and community (which includes your entire email database, your regular blog readers and your social media communities).
Beyond that, Facebook advertising is a fantastic vehicle to get these strategic blog posts into the interwebs. Using the Facebook pixel, you’re also collecting a list of Facebook users to retarget later, once your shopping cart opens.
Promoting blog posts is far cheaper than promoting sales pages or email opt-ins, so make it clear in your Facebook ads that these are blog posts, not requiring anything of the clicker (apart from clicking!).
As you’ve carefully crafted these strategic blog posts, and used smart Facebook ad targeting to serve these ads to the right people, you’re reaching new people that suit your target market profile. Your strategic blogs enable people to further segment themselves, deciding “this is me” or “this isn’t me”.
The pre-launch period enables you to use strategic blogging, combined with targeted Facebook ads, to reach the right people and later serve them your Facebook ads to your sales page. Strategic blogging uses the age-old ritual and practice of story-telling to create connections, make meanings and start conversations. Strategic blogging and Facebook advertising will help you reach new people – your ‘right people’ – to make your next launch the best yet.