Stop Selling, Start Helping: 5 Tips for Creating Magnetic Content

On Marketing Made Simple TV, Jay Baer of Convince and Convert (the top rated content marketing blog) leaned in to the camera, and said earnestly “If only you create really awesome content, buyers will flock to you.”

When Jay shared that piece of wisdom, my mind went straight to Dollar Shave Club’s super slick YouTube video, “Our Blades are F****ing Great!” Buyers have certainly flocked to this video – it been viewed just under 11 million times. Watch it, and you will see “awesome” in action.

Have you ever created a YouTube video that went viral, gaining millions of organic views? Don’t feel bad – neither have I.

Maybe you can’t produce a YouTube sensation every day, but you still want to create magnetic content that wows your buyers. You still want your content to be, as Jay put it, really awesome. Can that be done by the average person? Yes, it can – and I’ll tell you how.

Stop Selling and Start Helping

You can make the switch by changing two letters – just turn “selling” into “helping.” That’s right – selling brings you a customer today, but being helpful creates customers for life. Stop trying to create content that sells, and start trying to help others, as explained in Jay’s new book, “YouTility – Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype.”

Case in point: Nationwide Insurance knew that the period of time immediately after an accident is highly stressful, and that people are prone to make mistakes under stress. So they created an app for iPhones and Android phones to use at an accident scene, carefully walking you through the proper steps – collecting information, taking pictures, and contacting your insurance company. Now that’s useful.

Here’s the bottom line: You can create magnetic content that wows your buyers if you focus on helping, rather than making sales.

Here are 5 tips to help you help your customers (with thanks to Jay Baer).

Tip 1 – Identify Customer Needs

According to Jay, “For your marketing to be so useful that people want it and would gladly pay for it, you have to understand what your customers need to make better decisions, and how you can improve their lives by providing it.”  While search engine data, social chatter, and web analytics offer helpful data, sometimes the very best approach is to pick up the telephone and talk to your customer. Ask them what they want. Jack Welch of GE once told an up-and-coming GE executive, “Go talk to our customers. They never lie to you.”

Tip 2 – Map Customer Needs to Useful Marketing Content

Now that you really understand what buyers need, you can focus on mapping your content to really resonate with those needs. A sales lead is a prospect who meets specific, predetermined criteria for becoming a customer. They desire specific information about their circumstances, and eventually, they might have a problem that your company can solve. If you ran a weed killing company, you might start with an article about lawn care, or invite homeowners to text you pictures of troublesome weeds.

Tip 3 – Market Your Marketing

First, you’ll want to employ “seed nurturing.” Basically, you put your content everywhere that buyers might find it – thereby planting “seeds.” Any of those might take root and grow.

You might promote it on your homepage, share it on social media, include it in a newsletter, email it to all employees, and work on product placement in leading publications. Jay says that he is seeing companies make hiring decisions based partially on the candidate’s number of social connections. “The social connections of your employees should not be overlooked,” he says. “Training employees to be more present and successful on social media is very important today.”

Tip 4 – Make Helping a Process and Not a Project

Change is inevitable. A customer’s needs may be different tomorrow than they are today. In addition, new technologies open doors to new ways of helping. Film died and was replaced with digital images. Cassettes died and were replaced with digital audio formats. People change. Technologies change. You have to keep adapting.

Tip 5 – Keep Score

You don’t want this initiative to become an novelty – so it must be measured effectively. Jay recommends that you develop and use metrics around four areas:

  1. Consumption Metrics
    You’ll want to know how many times your mobile app was downloaded, and how many times your blog was visited. But keep in mind that you are not just looking for eyeballs – you want to know what those eyeballs are doing.
  2. Advocacy and Sharing Metrics
    Knowing the level of support you are getting and how often your content is being shared is quite useful. You’ll want to monitor sharing of the big three – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  3. Lead Generation Metrics
    Here you want to know that when someone is reviewing your content, they are considering a purchase. But don’t put big forms there. “Forms are the enemy of spread,” says Joe Chernov of Kinvey. He believes if your value is strong (aka helpful), buyers will contact you after they finish their research.
  4. Sales Metrics
    If you can track where the buyer originated and which origins resulted in wins, you can create metrics to measure sales. Fortunately, marketing automation software can track this transition, from tire-kicker to actual buyer. Documenting how your helpful content is driving revenue is the key to gaining long-term support from the C-suite.

Follow these 5 tips, and you’ll be on your way to dynamic, valuable, and – yes –  awesome content. I suggest you check out Jay Baer’s new book, Youtility, or catch him on  Marketing Made Simple TV. As you envision and create content, the key is to position yourself not as a salesperson, but as a valuable resource. Don’t try to create needs for your customers – ask yourself (and your customers) what they need already.