Let me just cut to the chase here: When it comes to business blogging, there is content, and then there is content that sells.
Ask any business owner or marketer which they'd prefer and the obvious answer would be the latter.
The fact is, all the business blogging in the world doesn't help a bit if it's not increasing sales. Make no mistake—a business is a business and it needs to make money.
In this article I'll discuss 4 ways companies can create blog content to bring in more sales. Adapt the principles here to your industry or niche to get more business with your company's blog.
#1: Teach With Story and Sell With Subtleness
Of all the things I'm going to discuss in this article, teaching with story and selling with subtleness is really the most important. It's incredibly underutilized by businesses around the world.
Here's how this works. When businesses share their success stories, they usually don't adopt a “teach first” mentality. They explain what they did for the client, but they don't give the lesson behind the experience.
But first, customers want an answer to “What's in it for me?” If our content only talks about how great a job we did on a project but doesn't teach, we're not likely to get the best results.
Here's an example of how to first teach with story and then sell with subtleness. I recently wrote an article, “What Does the Face of the Blogger of Tomorrow Truly Look Like?”
The teaching message was: Companies need to embrace the idea that the majority of their employees, especially those in sales, can be content producers and blog writers.
And I shared the story of a company doing just this. US Waterproofing, a Chicago basement waterproofing company, turned their sales guys into content producers, which led to a significant increase in traffic, leads and sales from their company website.
That was the “teaching” segment of the article.
The “subtle selling” portion came into play when I mentioned, in a very subtle manner, that I had gone to this company and spoken to their staff. I gave them the initial vision, and after they bought in, they got the desired results.
In other words, there were two messages in that article, in their proper order:
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- Enable your employees to be content producers. (This answers the reader's “What's in it for me?” question.)
- How businesses that want to enable their employees to be content producers could hire help.
See how this works? Although I spent very little time in that article talking about myself or the fact that US Waterproofing was a client of mine, I've received many inquiries since then from other companies looking to achieve the same success with their employees.
But remember, it all starts when you teach a principle first, and sell later.
#2: Teach With Video (and a personal touch)
Let's look at a completely different example in another field I'm in—swimming pools. As some of you know, I own a swimming pool company that installs in-ground swimming pools throughout Virginia and Maryland.
One of the biggest issues my swimming pool sales department deals with from consumers is their concern that pools are too much work, too hard to clean and aren't worth the hassle. With respect to the cleaning issue, for years customers kept telling me they heard it was very hard to vacuum an in-ground pool, and that it could only be done with two people.
Knowing this train of thought was completely wrong, I decided to do a video dispelling the myth, showing customers and viewers just how easy it was to vacuum a pool. This alone would not have been a very unique nor personal video, but I did it with a catch—my 6-year-old son was the star of the video.
If you watch the video above, you'll clearly see just how easy it is to vacuum an in-ground swimming pool. But beyond that, one other thing will happen—you'll get to know my son, which means you'll get to know me a little better as well.
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When people know you and start to trust you, your chance of doing business with them is much, much greater.
Video is an amazing tool for this. It allows businesses to integrate the social power of YouTube with the personal power of real people, and the teaching power behind the content.
And because we send this video out to all of the leads who come into our system, they immediately get a different perspective—not only on swimming pool ownership, but also on the owner of the company they might be buying from.
In many ways, this is what creating personal content that sells is all about.
#3: Teach With Urgency (and a call to action)
Are you starting to pick up on a theme yet? Yep, everything always involves teaching first, then comes the selling.
In some cases, the services or products in your field may be time-sensitive, at which point you can take advantage of urgency and allow time, or the lack thereof, to be on your side.
Take for example the recent Facebook Timeline change for business. Because thousands and thousands of businesses were affected by this change, and because the timing of it made action urgent, it was the perfect opportunity for Facebook/social media consultants to create sales through content.
One perfect example of this was Social Media Examiner guest writer and Facebook guru extraordinaire Amy Porterfield, who wrote the following blog post:
As you can see from the screenshot, Amy informed her audience of Facebook's impending changes, she discussed when and what those changes would be, and then finished off the article with a perfect call to action for a webinar.
When it comes to producing content that sells, this was a great example of how to do it the right way with the right progressions.
#4: Teach Through Comparison
In previous articles here on Social Media Examiner, I've discussed the “power of comparison” as a sales tool with content marketing.
As consumers, we love to compare. We love to line products and services up against each other and choose the one we feel is the best.
For example, let's imagine you want to buy a sports car and your top two choices are the Ford Mustang and the Chevy Camaro. Once you narrow your choice down to these two vehicles, what are you likely going to do next? If you guessed “go to the Internet and compare the two models,” you're right. In fact, you'd likely go to a search engine like Google and type something like:
- Ford Mustang vs. Chevy Camaro
- Ford Mustang compared to Chevy Camaro
- Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro: Which is better?
- 2012 Ford Mustang vs. 2012 Chevy Camaro
A good content marketer selling one of these vehicles would certainly create an article addressing these very questions.
For another real-life example of how comparative content works so well, I'll refer you to Block Imaging‘s incredibly successful blog.
To give you a quick background on Block, they sell refurbished medical imaging equipment all over the world, with a focus on MRI machines. Because they offer so many different types and models, and because their clients are constantly comparing products, Block Imaging consistently writes these comparative articles like the one below to help clients choose the product that best suits their needs.
Not only do their readers love this, but the search engines are rewarding Block for addressing subjects that so few in their industry have ever discussed online.
Now it's Your Turn
So there you have it, friends—4 ways your company can produce content that sells. But the truth is, there are many other ways by which you can sell more with your content.
What do you think? Please share the effective strategies you've used with your business. What else would you add to the list? Jump in, folks. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave your questions and comments in the box below.
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