This past week, my employer brought in a chiropractor -- let’s call him Dr. Dave -- to talk to my co-workers and I during lunch. Dr. Dave pulled a classic chiropractor move and gave us a “healthy” Subway lunch and bottles of water.
Dr. Dave also happened to crush content marketing.
As we all sat around the warehouse in uncomfortable chairs, he showed us his PowerPoint slideshow. He told us sitting all day is killing us, the foods we eat are giving us cancer and that realigning spines is the way to fix the nerve damage to our hearts, digestive systems and all the other cells in our bodies. He even came prepared with literature that included the scientific research to prove it.
To be completely fair, I probably agree with all of that.
I work 12-18 hours a day in a fast-paced, stressful marketing environment. I eat a crap diet because I’m stressed out and it makes me feel better to chow down on pizza instead of vegetables. And when I’m not sitting down at work, I’m sitting down to watch TV before bed because I’m tired and don’t want to think anymore.
But this isn’t a health lecture. It’s about content marketing for entrepreneurs, and how my chiropractor nailed it.
After he was done with his lecture, he offered us the chance to win a $200 dinner if we gave him our phone numbers and email addresses. Since the odds of winning were about 1 in 25 in our office, every one of us willingly gave up that information to a complete stranger. And now I’m subscribed to his daily email blasts where he reminds me about my impending death if I don’t get my act together.
Chiropractors like Dr. Dave were expert content marketers long before we started calling it content marketing. But it goes back even further than that.
Think about Thomas Paine and his pamphlet, “Common Sense” in 1776. The words that fueled the fire behind the early Americans’ battle for revolution against Great Britain.
That was propaganda.
Propaganda is content marketing.
Content marketing isn’t new. It’s not even old-school.
What can you learn from my chiropractor?
Let’s dissect what Dr. Dave did that makes him a master of content marketing. I’m only going to focus on the lecture I heard that day at work. I won’t even go into his weekly emails, his radio show, or any of the other amazing things he’s been doing for the last 25 years.
Know your customer personas.
Dr. Dave certainly knew his audience. He knew we were a fast-growing eCommerce store which meant long hours, bad diets, high stress, repetitive warehouse injuries, and yuppies who were realizing they weren’t 19 years old anymore.
He knew who his customer was so he wouldn’t waste valuable time and money on people who were unlikely to convert. So ask yourself:
Who’s your audience? (Hint: create your customer personas)
What are your converters like?
What are their goals in business/life/friendship?
Get their attention.
I’m not sure there’s ever a time where you can’t win people over with free food. Dr. Dave knew if he brought in a free meal we would feel obligated to at least sit through his presentation without scrolling through our Snapchats.
What keywords are hot-button topics for your audience?
How can you craft a good headline (Hint: Use this free tool from SumoMe).
Know the seven pillars of newsworthiness.
Tell a good story and connect with your audience.
Dr. Dave started off by showing us some before and after photos. When he showed the before photos, he told us what was going on in the person’s life at the time. He told us about the stress the person was facing at work. He told us about the fatigue, neck pain and other symptoms this patient was having -- all things we could relate to.
He got us to feel connected with the human being on a screen, rather than just shoving a photograph in our faces without any back story. Once we were invested in this person, he showed us an after photo. In the image you could see the patient’s posture improved, weight lost and a big smile on their face. He showed us what we all want -- through storytelling.
Tell a story that connects your audience to your message.
Pull them in emotionally (Hint: visual storytelling works great here).
Keep them engaged by weaving that same story throughout the rest of your content.
Give them practical, repeatable steps.
The story was never really about some other patient. The story was always about me. The story was about the stress I‘d been feeling, about the 50 lbs. I put on this year, about the 100-hour work weeks I’d been pulling.
Dr. Dave knew this and used a story about someone else to pull me in. And once he had my attention -- once I resonated with this character -- I was desperately searching for a way to fix my own problem.
Don’t leave them hanging; offer them a solution.
Dr. Dave told us regular chiropractic visits increased energy, decreased symptoms and made his patients feel better. Not only did he tell me the solution, he challenged me to take the next step to alleviating my issues -- and at a discount.
Too often, content marketers are scared to ask for the sale. If your content is great, if it pulls your reader into your world, if it captures their emotions, they will beg you to offer them a solution. So give it to them.
What can you do to solve your audience’s problem?
Are the steps actionable and repeatable?
If they’re really hooked, ask for the conversion.
Content marketing is still buzzworthy. But some people are forgetting it’s not new. It’s really old, and it’s been done really well before. If you want to get better, study what’s worked in the past. Ask yourself what has always worked in content marketing and make it work for you.
Struggling with podcasts? Listen to some talk radio. Why does your dad turn on the radio and listen to some old guy talk about “boring” stuff all day? Listen to a few episodes and see if you can figure out what engages an audience on talk radio.
Struggling with YouTube? Watch re-runs of Oprah, The View, Montel Williams, Ricki Lake, or some other old school talk show. See if you can find the patterns they use -- those are the same tactics that will 10x your YouTube channel.
Struggling with blogging? Pick up a newspaper. Chances are you’ll start to see a pattern in the articles that make the front page. Use that pattern to bring your online writing to the next level.
If you want to get better at content marketing, do some research on what has stood the test of time in other mediums. Analyze and implement those tactics to improve your digital content marketing and get the results you’ve been reading about.
Do you have any specific examples of “old-school” content that has improved your digital marketing? Tell me about them!