Build engagement and trust with your audience to create long lasting relationships, and better customers
How to improve your engagement and not bang your audience over the head with your offers whenever you need to boost sales.
This week’s avid listener has a big embarrassing problem. A marketing content creator that is worried about the content that they are creating (or not) in between sales and promotions. They don’t have a plan to keep their audience of prospects and customers engaged and feeling loved.
They often check out marketing from their competitors and peers and theirs seems to pale in comparison, and are sadly embarrassed by their own efforts.
Our agony-ridden friend will most likely be suffering from a lack of engagement, eventually leading to a big drop in sales.
If they are not experiencing it already, they will soon see that their ad spend going up, and their ROI from that spend going down.
Sales campaigns will see low open rates, low click through rates and low conversions as their audience will not have been presented with a regular stream of helpful information and resources that are tailored to their needs.
Today Kenda will show our discombobulated listener how to dis-discombulate, re-combobulate, or un-discombobulate, (whatever the word is) for putting it all back together to create a bulletproof plan for earning and keeping that engaged audience, who are much more likely to buy when you do release that unmissable new product or offer.
Our Marketing agony aunt will also show you why comparing yourself to others is pants and why you should not do it, or maybe you should, but not in the way that you probably are doing.
Even if you don’t implement anything from this podcast about sales, content marketing, engagement or improving trust and customer love, you will have another interesting tea to add to your shopping list.
Get comfy on the virtual couch and listen below. These are the engagement answers you are looking for.
Welcome to the Marketing Agony Aunt. I’m your Aunty - Kenda Macdonald. Today we’ve got an interesting topic filled with embarrassment… We’re going to be looking at how to build engagement and trust within an audience, so you can build relationships and boost sales. This is vital for any business in today’s world - online or offline.
So come on in and take a seat on the couch - grab a drink if you need some fortification - and let’s get agonising.
Now to our letter from our lost and confused agoniser:
Dear Marketing Agony Aunt,
I have an embarrassing problem. I've been in marketing for some time now, I create content for our business, but I don't think I'm doing it right.
I see other marketing that comes through, and ours pales in comparison. I've been listening to you talking about the importance of building trust and engagement - and I just don't think we do that.
Our sales campaigns are OK - but we go really quiet in between them. I'm sure that's the wrong thing to do... We're so niche and specialist - I don't know what to say to people and whether they’d even be interested in hearing about what we do have to say.
How do I go about finding the right words? How do I know we're doing it right? How do I build trust between sales?
It all just feels so wrong, and not in a good way.
I feel like we’re all over the place, and I’m so embarrassed to admit it. I’m supposed to be the expert in our business.
Please help - I just want to do it right.
Yours very sincerely,
Confused, Lost and Discombobulated
Discombobulated - there’s an awesome word I haven’t heard in a very long time.
Thank you so much for writing in dear lost.
So before we get cracking, make sure you have something to fortify yourself.
I have a delicious tea that I’m partaking in today - it’s one of the rarest teas in the world, and comes from the mountains where I grew up in South Africa. It’s a gorgeous honeybush tea. And yes - I am driving again, hence no alcohol. What a bother.
Okay let’s get agonising, dearest discombobulated, I know you’re feeling embarrassed about this - but admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving that problem.
You have a few different problems here, and one main solution. Which is so lovely and neat.
So let’s break out the problems.
Number one - you’re not communicating with your customers and prospects in between sales campaigns. That means all they hear from you is sales stuff. That’s not good.
Number two - you don’t know what to say, and you’re not even sure that what you would say would be of any interest anyway. There’s definitely a confidence issue in there.
Number three - you’re not sure whether you’re doing it right. Which means you probably don’t have the data to validate what you’re doing.
Number four - you feel your competitors are doing better than you are. Comparison is the thief of joy - but keeping a finger on the pulse of your competitors can be a good way to ensure you keep ahead of the pack.
Let’s look at how we can solve each of these.
To be contrary, let’s look at number four first. Your competitor issue.
When we start working with a new client, I like to get started with a competitor audit. This isn’t so that you can compare yourself to your competitors, rather so that you can contrast yourself to them.
As a friend of mine always says, never compare your start to someone’s middle. And this is particularly important when it comes to competitors.
You can see what they’re doing on the outside - but you have no idea whether or not any of what they are doing is actually performing. Unless you can see the data, don’t make assumptions about how well their marketing is doing.
Poo that has been gilded is still poo. Just shiny.
So why do we still suggest you do a competitor audit? Well that’s so that you can create contrast between you and your competitors. By looking at your biggest competition, you’ll see what your prospects are also seeing.
It’s naive to think that your prospects only reach out to you and never do any other research as to what is out there.
It’s vital to know what your prospects are seeing, hearing and experiencing. What messages come up time and time again, and how do you feature in all of that?
That brings me to the next point - this is not about who YOU perceive your competitors to be. It’s who your prospects might perceive to be your competition.
My suggestion is to go out and do the searches and fact finding that your prospective audience would be doing in order to work that out. You’ll be surprised.
Look for the white noise while you’re doing this research- what are they being beaten around the head with?
And then use that information to contrast yourself. Make yourself the obvious choice. Show people why and how you’re different.
Being the obvious choice works two ways. For your ideal clients, you’ll be the obvious right choice. They will know why they want to work with you. But for the non-ideal clients, they will know why you’re not for them.
And that is perfect. You want people to make a decision about you. When you get that decision, you get action. Decision paralysis leads to inaction. So make it easy and obvious.
Using juxtaposition (in other words the art of placing two things next to one another to create a vivid contrast) will help distinguish you from your competition. And that is how you get ahead of them.
As Seth Godin said:
“The number on thing to steal from your competitors is wisdom...”
And that’s what you want to do here. Use their information to help you develop a stark contrast. No comparison required - just an obvious choice.
That leads me on to the solution for problem one, two and three.
Not communicating, not knowing what to communicate, and not knowing if you’re doing it properly, respectively.
So in other words: Your messaging.
You have to be continually communicating with your audience. You can not just sell to them. If you do that - the only association they have with you is that you want something from them.
That is a sure fire way to have a super unengaged list.
And the real problem with this is that not only are you then clogging up people’s inboxes with unwanted messaging - but when you go about sending them the next bit of communication - they are going to be waaaay less receptive to what you’re offering.
So you only end up shooting yourself in the foot.
What you want is for people to be enthused and invigorated by the content that you send out. You want to be welcome in their inboxes. Not something that just gets deleted or archived (or worse - go straight into the spam!) as soon as you hit send.
That’s a waste of your time, and their time.
Instead - let’s help you put together a strategy that helps you engage your audience, build trust, positions yourselves as the authority in your niche and industry and ensures that people really want to work with you - so a nice little boost to sales.
Nothing better than that!
First we need to determine what topics about your niche people are actually interested in.
To do that, I suggest you grab a piece of paper. I’m going to take you through the method we use to build content plans that engage and envigorate audiences whilst building trust and loyalty.
Okay now, in that paper I want you to write left to right along the top - all the services you offer. Under those services I want you to list out all of the keywords that pertain to that service.
Then under each keyword/ subject, I want you to write down every question you have even been asked about that product/ service. If you have some in house sales people - it’s great to get them involved because they know all of the questions that get asked.
Once you’ve done that - time for a little research.
Take each of the keywords and put them in a keyword research tool. My three favourite ones are, Mangools, Answer the public, and Moz.
They each have functionality in which you pop your keyword in, and they will go off and find all of the questions that are being typed about that keyword.
Capture every relevant question.
When I did this process I got almost 3 years worth of weekly content topics for my agency, Automation Ninjas.
Now to do this even better - read the book “they ask you answer” by Marcus Sheridan.
Effectively, with each and every one of the questions that you have just gathered - you can create an email, blog post, video or podcast that is packed full of content that your audience wants to know the answers to.
I’ve popped all of the links to these tools, as well as to a blog post we wrote about this, in the description for you.
Now here’s what you do with these questions, it’s what you do with it that counts!
Create content for your audience with the answers. And send that content out every week as part of ongoing communication and education to your audience.
This strategy is two fold:
One - for your existing list, it will engage them and build trust. They will love the valuable information you’re sending out, and you will become welcome in their inbox. Which ultimately - means more sales.
To prove this, after sending nearly a year’s worth of weekly content - we doubled the open rate of one of our clients, the lovely Mike brown and 10x his click through rates.
So he went from a respectable nearly 20% open rate, to nearly 40% currently. And from an average click through rate of 2% to over 20%. It’s insane.
But the second part of this is even better - if you are clever with the content, make sure it’s SEO friendly, and you put it out there consistently - you’ll start ranking very highly. Eventually with all the information you’ll outrank your competitors.
The genius in this is that as the questions you’re answering are long tail - you’re being super targeted. And all the accumulation of the long tail keywords will help you rank for the intended much shorter keyword. It’s ridiculously cool.
Then… get ninja with this shit.
Track engagement. Utilise the data from how consumers are consuming the content to help you be more proactive with your sales.
When we build out a long term nurture campaign, we use an engagement threshold with certain topic to kick off what we call short term nurture campaigns. These are effectively mini sales campaigns. But they are SUPER targeted. Because we know that someone is interested in the topic - we can offer to help them with it.
And BOOM - you’ve got yourself some behavioural selling.
How fucking cool is that?
I mean wow - that’s marketing nirvana right there. I love this shit so much it’s insane.
So there you have it. Blow your competitors out of the water with juxtapositioning rather than comparison - and then blow your audience's minds with rad content catered to their specific problems, and utilise that to allow you to sell in a super targeted behavioural fashion. Job done!
Now - let’s summarise and write back to our dearest discombobulated:
Feeling embarrassed can be completely paralysing. So well done you for writing in about your problem.
Admitting the problem is the first step on the road to recovery, and it’s such a brave thing to do. You should feel proud that you’ve taken this all important initial action to improvement.
Let’s get the weight lifted for you as to how you go about solving your problem.
You have quite a few areas that are concerning you, you’re worried that your competition is performing so much better than you are, you’re worried that you’re not doing a good enough job of communicating to your prospects and customers.
And therefore that you have no relationship with them, and you’re also worried that you have nothing to say that would interest them.
Firstly, nothing good comes from comparing yourself to others.
Rather than comparing your inner workings as a business to another business’ outer image - focus on contrasting and juxtaposing yourself. Allow yourself to stand out, and use what your competitors put out there to strengthen your own position.
Secondly, your communication and messaging issues need immediate attention. In order to build a relationship and trust with your customers and prospects - you need to provide value to them.
Being in a niche is not a negative attribute - so put that concern away. Instead focus on what questions your audience is looking for the answers to. Build valuable content that answers those questions.
Then utilise that content to engage your prospects and customers. Send it to them weekly and watch your engagement soar. Track what they are consuming and use this information to behaviourally add value to them with products that are keyed into the content they are most readily consuming.
Additionally use this content to help you rank above your competition and bring in new leads and prospects.
You have far more to offer than you realise - I hope you are feeling enlightened, invigorated and excited about your communication and competitors now.
Your Marketing Agony Aunt
What a great problem from our Discombobulated. It’s so important to really nail your messaging. Thank you so much for writing in on this topic.
If you’d like us to take a look at any of your problems, contact us.
You can also contact us on all the social media options in the description.
And as a little bonus from us to you, when you implement what you learn and get the successes and wins you’re looking for - let us know - and we’ll feature you!
If you enjoyed today’s session, feel free to subscribe to the show on itunes or wherever you get your podcasts from, share with the people you love, leave comments - engage and of course - pop us a nice honest rating and review if you feel so inclined.
Next time on the Marketing Agony Aunt, we look at all the odd, illogical things customers and prospects do, why they do them - and how you can plan for them in advance for marketing that converts