Author: Brian Clark

Last Chance to Get the Rainmaker Platform at the Current Pricing

Last Chance to Get the Rainmaker Platform at the Current Pricing

TL;DR version: The Rainmaker Platform is shifting from a pure technology play to software with services included before the end of June, at much higher pricing. That means if you want Rainmaker at its current pricing, you should start your free trial now.
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When we rebranded from Copyblogger Media to Rainmaker Digital in September of 2015, it was a firm statement that put the Rainmaker Platform at the forefront. But it was also a foreshadowing of where we saw things going.

We knew we were headed from software-as-a-service (SaaS), to software and service to create complete solutions. People need sophisticated marketing technology, yes — but they also need done-for-them services such as design, content, and lead generation strategy.

The technology is only getting more sophisticated, and we plan to remain at the forefront of that with Rainmaker. But sophisticated technology calls for equally sophisticated strategy and execution — and not everyone has that kind of expertise in-house.

Our original goal was to create marketing technology for entrepreneurs and small businesses that are doing content marketing themselves or via freelancers. In the meantime, we’ve been turning away businesses happily willing to pay for a more complete solution.

Our go-forward strategy is to follow what the market is telling us. We’re going to offer you the services that we’ve been teaching and doing for ourselves over the last decade.

A complete Rainmaker solution provider

We’ve been doing service work for our Rainmaker Platform customers for over a year, but it’s been very cautious. There are many ways to develop a client services department, but given that we’ve been product-focused for so long, we weren’t arrogant enough to think we could just pull it off effortlessly.

In that last year, we’ve explored several viable ways to do more for our customers and prospects as a hybrid technology and digital marketing service provider. After careful deliberation, we’ve come up with a path that allows us to expertly provide anything that a Rainmaker user needs.

Rainmaker Digital has entered into a letter of intent to partner with an existing digital agency, Nimble Worldwide. We’ve had a long relationship with Nimble, as they were our email marketing provider for years before we developed our own solution, RainMail.

Effectively, the Rainmaker assets of the company (excluding StudioPress, Synthesis, Copyblogger, Authority, and DCI, which are not affected by this move at all) will be combined with Nimble assets into a new entity, with us as the majority owner.

First of all, that means you can rest assured that the company you know today remains the company you’ll be doing business with going forward. Plus, the Rainmaker side of things will be where I’ll be putting much of my personal attention and effort.

That said, this deal provides instant access to an experienced team of digital marketing professionals and a network of talented contractors that ensures our service solutions are expertly crafted and delivered. This grows the Rainmaker team significantly, without the pain and uncertainty of building an agency from scratch.

The change in business model unfortunately left four of our existing employees without positions, along with the loss of some of our own contractors. That was certainly no fun, and our operations leadership preserved every job possible despite the significant reorganization.

On the brighter side, this will open up a lot of work for our Certified Writers and members of the Genesis design community as we get rolling. We’re very excited to provide additional freelance and employment opportunities to the large ecosystem we’ve cultivated over the years.

To sum up, I’m 100 percent certain that this is the smarter move compared with trying to build an internal agency from scratch. And ultimately, the clear winners in the deal are our customers and prospects.

What can we help you with?

The first meaningful impact of this will be that we’ll be able to do just about anything you need related to your digital marketing efforts. That includes:

  • Design
  • Development
  • Strategy
  • Content creation
  • SEO and social
  • Adaptive funnel sequences
  • Digital advertising and media planning
  • Turn-key digital marketing packages

On that last point, we’ll be able to provide clearly defined service bundles that allow you to quit thinking about marketing and focus on the rest of your business. If the ROI is there, why would you say no?

We informed the thousands of existing Rainmaker customers about these new services last week, and the response has been enthusiastic. That means if you decide to get on board with the Platform before the switch, you’ll have the benefit (but not the obligation) of access to these services as well.

We’ll be rolling out access to both project-based and retainer-based solutions in the coming months. Once things are live, we’ll let you know here.

The end of “off the shelf” Rainmaker

All of this restructuring is aimed at offering you more options from a trusted source. Of course, with any major escalation in value, there are changes to the way things have been.

The biggest change is that going forward, we will no longer sell the Rainmaker Platform “a la carte.” In other words, the sales process will become more hands on, and less like a “pull out your credit card and sign up online” SaaS.

All future sales of the Platform will be bundled with services, and at a significantly higher price. We’re anticipating that this change will happen before the end of June, 2017.

So, if you’ve been contemplating the Platform, but don’t feel like you need additional service components, you should start your free trial before the switch happens. We’ll naturally send out reminders before the point of no return.

Exciting stuff to come … stay tuned! Feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

The post Last Chance to Get the Rainmaker Platform at the Current Pricing appeared first on Copyblogger.

The ‘Pulp Fiction’ Technique for Engaging and Persuasive Content

"Pulp Fiction expertly uses a common writing technique that grabs attention right from the beginning, and magnetically holds it." – Brian Clark

You’ve seen Pulp Fiction, right? It’s the classic 1994 black comedy crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

The film is highly stylized, presented out of chronological order, and filled with eclectic dialogue that reveals each character’s perspectives on various subjects. And yes, it’s profane and violent.

Pulp Fiction was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture. Tarantino and his co-writer Roger Avary won for Best Original Screenplay, which is truly the foundation of an exceptional film.

Despite the groundbreaking inventiveness, Pulp Fiction also expertly uses a common writing technique that grabs attention right from the beginning, and magnetically holds that attention through a form of psychological tension generated by our short-term memories.

This simple strategy is something you can use in your marketing content, your sales copy, and your live presentations. You’ll not only increase engagement, but also add enhanced credibility to the persuasive point you’re trying to make.

Opening the loop

Back during the aftermath of the tragic effects of Hurricane Katrina, I came across an interesting article about some less-than-inspiring aspects of the devastating storm. It began with this:

“An Illinois woman mourns her two young daughters, swept to their deaths in Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters. It’s a tragic and terrifying story. It’s also a lie.”

Now, any article that details accounts of fraud in the aftermath of Katrina would contain compelling information. But that opening had me riveted, and it got me reading what ended up being a detailed and lengthy piece that I might have otherwise skipped.

The article went on for 1,136 words before explaining that opening statement. It finally came as the initial bullet point in a list of false claims for relief after Katrina.

This type of opening with a delayed resolution is called an open loop, and it works for just about any type of content or copy. No matter the medium, you always want to grab attention quickly and hold it while you provide the surrounding facts, lessons, or supporting evidence.

The information is the same, but the level of attention and even fascination on the reader’s part is greatly heightened by the structure, leading to better retention and potential for persuasion.

Bond … James Bond

Open loops are used all the time in the movies. Think about James Bond, dangling over a vat of sharks.

While the villain monologues, Bond saves himself by cutting away the ropes with the buzzsaw hidden in his Rolex Submariner watch. Why do we accept, much less embrace, this ridiculous resolution?

It’s because the buzzsaw feature of the watch was introduced to us earlier thanks to the new technology presentation from Q that happens in every Bond movie. The implausible becomes credible thanks to the setup earlier in the film.

These setups create open loops that will keep your audience itching to find out what happens in the end — a need-to-know phenomenon called the Zeigarnik Effect by psychologists.

In a nutshell, the Zeigarnik Effect means that we hold things in our short-term memories that lack closure. For example, waiters can easily remember the orders of each of the tables they’re serving — until the food comes out that is, at which point retention and recall diminishes greatly.

So, when you use the setup and payoff structure of the open loop, your audience is driven to keep going with you. And that’s what you want, right?

Think about cliffhanger endings, where a loop is opened without being closed. Not only do you want to know what happens, you remember to tune in next time.

The setup and subsequent payoff of an open loop is incredibly satisfying. And that’s why open loops are also powerful persuasion vehicles, because we embrace the payoff in a way we wouldn’t without the setup and time-lapse in between.

Think back to the James Bond example; the open loop made an implausible escape perfectly acceptable. As we’ll see in the next example, it can also make a commercial claim more credible, and even prompt the holy grail of direct response copywritingaction.

Loops that move people to act

So, how can you use an open loop in your copy to not only persuade, but also prompt action? Take a look at the copy for this radio ad written by Roy Williams for a diamond merchant called Justice Jewelers:

“Antwerp, Belgium, is no longer the diamond capital of the world.

Thirty-four hours on an airplane. One way. Thirty. Four. Hours. That’s how long it took me to get to where 80 percent of the world’s diamonds are now being cut. After 34 hours, I looked bad. I smelled bad. I wanted to go to sleep. But then I saw the diamonds.

Unbelievable. They told me I was the first retailer from North America ever to be in that office.
Only the biggest wholesalers are allowed through those doors. Fortunately, I had one of ’em with me, a lifelong friend who was doing me a favor.

Now pay attention, because what I’m about to say is really important: As of this moment, Justice Jewelers has the lowest diamond prices in America, and I’m including all the online diamond sellers in that statement.

Now you and I both know that talk is cheap. So put it to the test. Go online. Find your best deal. Not only will Justice Jewelers give you a better diamond, we’ll give you a better price, as well.

I’m Woody Justice, and I’m working really, really hard to be your jeweler. Thirty-four hours of hard travel, one way. I think you’ll be glad I did it.”

Okay, so the ad starts off by setting up an open loop. If Antwerp is no longer the diamond cutting capital of the world, which city is the new one?

But here’s the thing … we’re never told the city, or even exactly how low the prices are. To do that, you need to take action by heading over to the Justice Jewelers website, combined with a challenge to find lower prices anywhere else online.

Less artful ads would lead with the claim of the lowest prices thanks to an exclusive source of diamonds. Skepticism would naturally abound.

Here, the storytelling setup is incredibly engaging, even if you’re not in the market for diamonds. If you are in the market, the lingering open loop means the listener is more likely to retain, recall, and act on the information.

Can you see how this might work on a landing page aimed at getting an email opt-in? You open the loop, and the only way the visitor can close it is to sign up for the lead magnet.

That’s just one example of the many uses of open loops. As I mentioned earlier, you can incorporate open loops in your marketing content, your sales copy, and your live presentations, all making you inherently more engaging and persuasive.

And speaking of earlier, what about Pulp Fiction?

Pumpkin and Honey Bunny

So I saw Pulp Fiction on opening night back in 1994, and oh man … that first scene. I’ve never before or since experienced a theater full of people bursting into applause after the opening of a film.

As a refresher, Pulp Fiction begins with a man and a woman sitting together in a diner. The two are known only by the pet names they call each other — Pumpkin and Honey Bunny.

They’re discussing the relative dangers of robbing various places, revealing that the two are criminals. They’ve been holding up liquor stores, which Pumpkin thinks is too dangerous and will eventually result in them or someone else getting killed.

After sharing a story about a man who robs a bank with a telephone, Pumpkin proposes that they start robbing diners. In fact, he suggests that they rob the diner they’re in, right now.

Up to this point, Honey Bunny has been nothing but sweetness and light. She suddenly jumps up with a gun and shouts some particularly shocking threats to the patrons. Cut to Dick Dale’s iconic rendition of “Misirlou” and the opening credits.

Now, the rest of the film proceeds. Some of what follows actually occurs before the opening scene, and some occurs after, but don’t worry about that right now.

The point is, much of the rest of the film plays out without returning to Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. Even though the film is riveting, in the back of your mind you’re thinking … what the hell was that about?

What happened to Pumpkin and Honey Bunny?

Finally, we arrive at the last scene of the film. It’s the same diner from the opening.

Turns out, this is where gangsters Jules and Vincent have decided to have breakfast after escaping The Bonnie Situation and disposing of a headless guy at Monster Joe’s Truck and Tow.

Cut to Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, just as Honey Bunny leaps up with the gun and makes her threat. Ironically, in their bid for safer crime options, these two fools have picked the exact wrong diner to rob.

The scene plays out and the film ends, which closes the open loop. Incredibly satisfying.

So, in case there was any doubt, you can also use open loops when crafting tutorial content as well — because I just demonstrated one for you. The headline and opening of this article promise you an example from Pulp Fiction, but I didn’t actually close that loop until the very end.

  • Maybe you were wondering when I would get to it.
  • Maybe you knew I was demonstrating an open loop in my usual meta way.
  • Maybe (hopefully!) you got so caught up in the article that it was only nagging you somewhere in the back of your mind.

Anyway, do you use open loops in your content and copy? Let me know in the comments.

The post The ‘Pulp Fiction’ Technique for Engaging and Persuasive Content appeared first on Copyblogger.

Today’s the Last Day to Get a Great Deal on Your New StudioPress Site

WordPress Made Fast and Easy

Heads up, today is the last day to get your first month free, plus no-charge migration of your existing WordPress site to a brand-new, easy-to-use StudioPress Site.

You’ve got until 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time today, April 28, 2017 to get the deal. Simply click this link and the incentives will be applied at checkout.

I’ve included the original post below for more information if you missed it. See you on the other side!

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It’s been less than three months since we launched StudioPress Sites, our new solution that combines the ease of an all-in-one website builder with the flexible power of WordPress.

The response and feedback have been phenomenal. And the icing on the cake is that we’re already winning accolades.

In an independent speed test performed this month by WebMatros, StudioPress Sites was declared the undisputed winner. We’re thrilled, because we were up against formidable competition from WP Engine, Flywheel, Media Temple, Pressable, and Bluehost.

As you know, speed is important. If a page takes more than a couple of seconds to load, users will instantly hit the back button and move on.

But that’s only part of the story. Because unlike those other hosts, with StudioPress Sites you just sign up and quickly set up, without the usual hassles of self-hosted WordPress.

WordPress made fast and easy

The primary difference between a website builder and self-hosted WordPress is that with the former, you’re dealing with software as a service (SaaS), while the latter is … well, hosting. Not only is self-hosted WordPress a pain to deal with, it can also lead to unexpected surprises if you actually succeed (like your site crashing).

In this sense, StudioPress Sites is more like SaaS than hosting. You can set up your new site in just minutes on our server infrastructure that’s specifically optimized (and now independently tested) for peak WordPress performance.

From there, you simply select from 20 mobile-optimized HTML5 designs. Then, you choose from a library of trusted plugins for the functionality you need — and install them with one click.

Next, you put the included SEO tools to work, like our patented content analysis and optimization software, keyword research, advanced schema control, XML sitemap generation, robots.txt generation, asynchronous JavaScript loading, enhanced Open Graph output, breadcrumb title control, and AMP support.

There’s even more to StudioPress Sites than what I’ve highlighted here, but you can check out all the features at StudioPress.com. Let’s talk about the deal.

First month free, plus free migration

It’s really that simple. When you sign up for StudioPress Sites before 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on April 28, 2017, you pay nothing for your first month.

On top of that, we’ll move you from your current WordPress site to your brand-new, easy-to-use, and blazingly fast StudioPress Site at no charge.

Why?

Because we know that moving your website can be a pain, even if you’re not happy with your current host. And just as importantly, because we want you to try StudioPress Sites risk free.

Fair enough?

Cool — head over to StudioPress to check it all out and sign up today.

NOTE: You must use that ^^^^ special link to get the deal!

The post Today’s the Last Day to Get a Great Deal on Your New StudioPress Site appeared first on Copyblogger.

The Three Key Elements of Influential Digital Marketing

"True influence isn’t something you borrow. It’s what you embody." – Brian Clark

Ever see a numbered headline like the one above and try to guess what the three things are?

Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s not. In this case, you could be thinking I’m going to talk about content, copy, and email.

And while you’re right that those things are important, that’s not what this article is about.

Content and copy contain the messages you need to get across, and email delivers those messages within a conversion-rich context. But without understanding the fundamental elements of those messages, you won’t create the kind of influence with your target audience that leads to sales.

With companies of all sizes rushing to embrace “influencer marketing,” it seems that many have given up on the unique power the internet provides to form direct relationships with prospects.

Instead, they’re trying to avoid the work by reaching the audiences of people who have already put in the work.

Despite the disintermediated nature of the internet, brands are instead turning to a new form of intermediary, or influential middle man. Shortcut marketing rears its ugly head again.

Now, don’t get me wrong — having relevant influencers in your corner is desirable, and often game-changing. That said, your main goal is to first develop direct influence with your prospects, which ironically makes it easier to get outside influencers on your side.

This is the reality of modern marketing in any medium, and it’s especially viable online. And those three key elements that your digital marketing must embrace to develop true influence are aspiration, empowerment, and unity.

1. Aspiration

Effective marketing has always been about identifying and fulfilling aspirations. People strive to improve themselves and their station in life, especially in relation to others in the social strata.

Early mass marketing did a great job of channeling aspiration through envy. Messages encouraging consumers to “keep up with the Joneses” through the accumulation of material goods became the persuasion prompt for elevated social status.

Aspiration remains as powerful as ever, but it’s a different animal now. First of all, we no longer compare ourselves to our geographic neighbors. Instead, we now have worldwide Instagram-fueled expectations based on who we desire to be like based on interests, lifestyles, and various forms of success.

As master marketer Roy H. Williams presciently said:

“Show me what a person admires, and I’ll tell you everything about them that matters. And then you’ll know how to connect with them.”

Paired with that is a pronounced reduction in the desire to accumulate material things. According to a recent Trend Watch report on consumerism, status is shifting away from markers of material wealth — what they have — and moving more toward who they want to become.

This shift is amplified by celebrities and other influential people on social media. Their followers want to be healthier, smarter, creative, connected, and entrepreneurial. If you’re selling material goods, you need to understand how your widget fits into the broader aspirational lifestyle of your target audience.

This alone seems to justify the focus on outside influencer marketing, but it’s really just a way of abdicating your responsibility as the shepherd of your products and services. As Eugene Schwartz famously said decades ago:

“You do not create desire for your product. You take an existing demand in the market, and you channel it into your products.”

The desires and aspirations of your ideal customer are out there — in plain view — thanks to a social medium that publicly identifies who people admire and follow. It’s your job to discover the parameters of that aspiration, and channel it toward your product or service.

2. Empowerment

If you know what a prospect aspires to become, then your product or service and your marketing must empower that person to become a better version of themselves. If you fail across that spectrum, you’ll lose out to a competitor who delivers.

The 20th century was fueled by inadequacy marketing that encouraged material accumulation. Without access to alternative perspectives, people were targeted by marketers with messages that positioned the brand as the hero, promising to save the poor prospect from the anxiety manufactured by the message.

If your neighbor had a new Buick, you were now made to feel lesser in terms of social status. Why not upgrade to a Cadillac and take the lead?

Effective modern marketing flips that approach on its head. Rather than appealing to materialism or base self-interest, people are looking for positive inspiration and pragmatic guidance on how to become their best selves.

Pair that with the fact that the internet in general (and social media in particular) have helped erode trust in traditional institutions, while shifting power to engaging individuals. The appeal of attracting influencers with strong personal brands reflects this trend — people want to be empowered by other people, not faceless corporations.

Why not also put a human face on your own company? Again, what’s going to get an influencer excited about pimping your stuff, if your brand is uninspired to begin with?

This can be as easy as flipping your perceived role as a marketer. Whether you want to think of yourself as a guide, mentor, or coach, it’s your job to empower the buyer’s otherwise self-directed journey.

In an environment ripe with information and choices, the prospect is in charge. And while they may not look like a hero yet, they’re definitely the protagonist of their own story.

That means they’ll follow and choose to do business with the brand that empowers them to achieve their heroic aspirations. Outside influencers can help, but only as long as you’re also developing direct influence within your market in a meaningful way that establishes that you’re a player.

3. Unity

For decades, smart marketing and sales professionals have worked to incorporate the six fundamentals of influence established by social psychology studies — reciprocity, authority, social proof, liking, commitment and consistency, and scarcity — into their persuasion efforts.

So it was definitely news when Dr. Robert Cialdini, the original definer of those fundamentals, added a seventh — unity.

In reality, it actually wasn’t that much of a surprise. Books such as 2004’s The Culting of Brands by Douglas Atkin, and Seth Godin’s Tribes from 2008, provided earlier reflections on the power of unity influence. Meanwhile, companies such as Apple and Harley Davidson have used the power of belonging to build brands worth billions.

Smart digital marketers knew what was up, but we simply tried to shoehorn the concept into the existing influence principle of liking. That means people are more readily influenced by people they like and otherwise find attractive.

But unity goes way beyond simple liking. From the prospect’s perspective, it’s more about people like me or even of me.

According to the same Trend Watch report, people now trust people like themselves more than representatives of traditional power centers, and as much as academic or technical experts. To me, that makes unity perhaps the most powerful of the (now) seven fundamental principles of influence.

Take authority. It’s no longer enough to just demonstrate your expertise with content. You need to be the relatable authority that also shares the core values and worldviews of your prospects.

Or consider social proof, which means we look to others for indications of value and how to behave. A Breitbart article may get tens of thousands of social shares, and yet that social proof is meaningless — and actually a negative — to those who do not share the values and worldviews of that crowd.

There are a lot of tribal ways that we unify. Family, neighborhood, city, province, and nationality are obvious. But the more powerful forces of unification from a marketing standpoint are interest, aspiration, and empowerment. You need to lead people with similar aspirations in a way that brings them together even more.

Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier for anyone to locate like-minded people who share their interests and aspirations. And as Godin pointed out repeatedly in Tribes, they’re also looking for like-minded leaders to provide the empowerment.

Stand for something that matters

It’s impossible to practice empowerment marketing with wishy-washy content and copy. To the contrary, it’s bold positioning, motivating manifestos, and innovative mission statements that inspire people to confidently chase their aspirations. And it’s no coincidence that these are the same sort of messages that spread like wildfire through social media.

Empowering content that matches aspirations and validates worldviews is what those coveted influencers use to build audiences. You must do the same to remain in the game.

Traditional wisdom says to hide behind a carefully crafted brand, powered by safely sanitized messages, in the hope of appealing to everyone. But if a prospect can’t see themselves belonging with your brand, they’ll look — and find — someone who does make them feel like they belong by standing for something that matters to them.

True influence isn’t something you borrow. It’s what you embody.

The post The Three Key Elements of Influential Digital Marketing appeared first on Copyblogger.

First Month Free + No Charge Migration to a Faster WordPress Website

WordPress Made Fast and Easy

It’s been less than three months since we launched StudioPress Sites, our new solution that combines the ease of an all-in-one website builder with the flexible power of WordPress.

The response and feedback have been phenomenal. And the icing on the cake is that we’re already winning accolades.

In an independent speed test performed this month by WebMatros, StudioPress Sites was declared the undisputed winner. We’re thrilled, because we were up against formidable competition from WP Engine, Flywheel, Media Temple, Pressable, and Bluehost.

As you know, speed is important. If a page takes more than a couple of seconds to load, users will instantly hit the back button and move on.

But that’s only part of the story. Because unlike those other hosts, with StudioPress Sites you just sign up and quickly set up, without the usual hassles of self-hosted WordPress.

WordPress made fast and easy

The primary difference between a website builder and self-hosted WordPress is that with the former, you’re dealing with software as a service (SaaS), while the latter is … well, hosting. Not only is self-hosted WordPress a pain to deal with, it can also lead to unexpected surprises if you actually succeed (like your site crashing).

In this sense, StudioPress Sites is more like SaaS than hosting. You can set up your new site in just minutes on our server infrastructure that’s specifically optimized (and now independently tested) for peak WordPress performance.

From there, you simply select from 20 mobile-optimized HTML5 designs. Then, you choose from a library of trusted plugins for the functionality you need — and install them with one click.

Next, you put the included SEO tools to work, like our patented content analysis and optimization software, keyword research, advanced schema control, XML sitemap generation, robots.txt generation, asynchronous JavaScript loading, enhanced Open Graph output, breadcrumb title control, and AMP support.

There’s even more to StudioPress Sites than what I’ve highlighted here, but you can check out all the features at StudioPress.com. Let’s talk about the deal.

First month free, plus free migration

It’s really that simple. When you sign up for StudioPress Sites before 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on April 28, 2017, you pay nothing for your first month.

On top of that, we’ll move you from your current WordPress site to your brand-new, easy-to-use, and blazingly fast StudioPress Site at no charge.

Why?

Because we know that moving your website can be a pain, even if you’re not happy with your current host. And just as importantly, because we want you to try StudioPress Sites risk free.

Fair enough?

Cool — head over to StudioPress to check it all out and sign up today.

NOTE: You must use that ^^^^ special link to get the deal!

The post First Month Free + No Charge Migration to a Faster WordPress Website appeared first on Copyblogger.

How Strategic Content Converts to Email Subscriptions and Sales

"Content marketing is broader than email marketing, but your email list remains your core focus." – Brian Clark

When we talk about content marketing strategy, all the discussions of heroes, journeys, and maps can seem a bit esoteric.

What does it look like in real life? And how exactly does it relate to email marketing?

Content marketing is a broader discipline than email marketing, but your email list is the core focus. In fact, the primary purpose of content that is distributed in other ways (social, search, ads) is to begin the email relationship.

So, let me walk you through an imaginary campaign that takes you from a documented strategy to a working funnel. I’ll use my site Unemployable as the stage for this particular campaign.

Please note that the documented portions of the strategy below are much more abbreviated than you would do for yourself. It’s just an illustration that will help you better understand how a documented strategy translates into real-world digital marketing.

Let’s take a look.

Objective:

Why are we pursuing this?

The business objective is to sell StudioPress Sites to people who want to start a new website.

Who:

In the “who” phase, we identify a single persona that we’ll keep in mind as we craft content.

This particular campaign will focus on freelancers looking to slowly move away from serving clients by shifting to a product-based business model. Our persona is a freelance writer named Penny.

Penny was thrilled to break away from the corporate marcom world and start her own business. She still loves the independence and flexibility, but some days the demands of her clients get to her. Instead of one boss, she answers to several demanding clients, each with different management styles and project requirements.

While she dreams of creating her first digital product, Penny dreads the thought of investing her time into something that doesn’t sell. She wants to develop a business based on her passion for cooking, not by teaching people to write. While she still wants to pursue the dream, her doubts about how to get started have kept her from taking even the first step.

Penny is a pragmatic and ethical person who is allergic to hype and incredible claims of internet riches. She is driven by a sense of fairness, and she holds disdain for those who take shortcuts at the expense of others.

Her worldview is that hard work is rewarding, and she often tells herself she should just be happy with the clients she has. Still, she’s willing to work a side hustle to pursue her dream, if only she could find the right path.

What:

In the “what” phase, we identify the sequence of information that the prospect needs to achieve her goal.

Now it’s time to identify the type of information that Penny will need to take action, and the order that will guide her step by step to transformation.

And since we’re trying to convince Penny to purchase a StudioPress Site, we’ll also need to communicate why it makes sense to do business with us over someone else.

Here are some broad considerations that we will turn into specific pieces of content and copy:

  • Penny will need on-point content that addresses her desire to turn a passion into a business.
  • The credibility of the source will be key to overcoming Penny’s skepticism.
  • Given her freelance practice, Penny needs to know that she has the time to make this happen.
  • She’ll need a way to validate her ideas and gain confidence.
  • Penny wants to see specific examples of how people like her have succeeded.
  • As a non-technical creative, Penny must be assured that she won’t be overwhelmed by technology.
  • Finally, Penny must receive an offer that motivates her to take action now.

Now we can take these primary information points and map them out as a sequential journey. Or you can simply create a story outline that corresponds with each piece of content in the sequence.

How:

In the “how” phase, we take what we know about our prospect in order to best present the information.

Penny is a creative business person striving to become more entrepreneurial. Her no-nonsense attitude suggests a “just the facts” approach, but her need for case studies and real-life examples opens her up to persuasive storytelling.

Given her potential for skepticism, we’ll walk the line between “yes, this takes work” with constant reassurance that it’s totally doable. Characterizing the entire process as an act of creation will appeal to Penny’s sense of pride as a professional writer.

The tone can be somewhat snarky when it comes to “get rich quick” formulas, especially at the beginning. The goal is strongly differentiate the advice from the stuff business-opportunity people are looking for, and instead present this as a valid way to build a business that serves others just as it also provides value to the owner.

Here’s Penny’s experience

At this point, we want to summarize how Penny experiences the journey your content is taking her on. We’ve worked to empathetically understand her, and now we want to see the path from her perspective to better refine how we guide her through it.

While taking a short break from a client project, Penny sees an article on Facebook that catches her eye. It’s called Why Now is the Wrong Time to Create a Digital Product. She sees that the post is sponsored, which means that it’s a paid distribution, but the topic is worth the click because it’s so on point to her predicament.

The article confirms her own doubts about creating an ebook or course, which means the content has entered the conversation already playing in her head. She’s nodding in agreement that starting with an idea for a product and simply creating it leads to failure more often than not.

Instead, the article argues that you need to first develop an audience around the topic you’re interested in. The piece goes on to argue that you should do market research by promoting other people’s relevant products first to discover what this particular audience wants to buy.

Penny is stoked, because she feels like the author is speaking directly to her. The end of the article contains an offer for a free course called Building Your Digital Business the Smarter Way.

The landing page is beautifully designed. The copy is abundant, but not obnoxious. She recognizes the author as the founder of Copyblogger, a site she read religiously when she was starting her freelance writing business.

The course is tied to subscribing to the weekly Unemployable newsletter. She smiles at the brand, and figures at minimum she’ll get some solid tips for running and growing her main business.

Penny registers for the course, providing her email address. She’s not naive — she knows there’s something for sale at some point, but this seems like the information she’s been waiting for.

She accesses the first lesson of the course immediately, which talks about validating product ideas by selling other people’s stuff — also known as affiliate marketing. Then there’s an unexpected shift, as the focus of the lesson moves to stories of people who make tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands, of dollars a month through affiliate marketing alone.

Just when Penny’s BS detector is about to blare, she encounters the story of The Wirecutter, a gadget review site powered by commissions from Amazon’s Associates program. The business was acquired by the New York Times for $30 million in 2016.

That piece of legitimacy has Penny hooked. If she can build an audience interested in cooking, there are all sorts of products that she can promote through Amazon and other affiliate programs. Maybe she doesn’t have to create a product at all.

But how to build the audience?

That comes in the next lesson, which arrives the next day by email. It talks about two vitally important channels for affiliate marketing — email and search.

The lesson advises to write one high-impact article every week, based on developing a documented content marketing strategy (this is getting meta now). But beyond that, the topic turns to content curation as a way to get people on her email list when she’s just starting out and building her authority.

This resonates with Penny. She knows there is so much good stuff out there in the world of recipes and cooking techniques. But she also knows there’s a bunch of junk and sorting through that for people has value. She can use social ads and guest posting to drive traffic to her newsletter, which now has a compelling value proposition.

The next day, her inbox reveals a tutorial on modern SEO — a topic that gives her the willies. She discovers it’s not that scary once you understand how technology can help amplify your great content, which is the most important part.

This lesson is the first time StudioPress Sites is mentioned, just briefly at the end. Penny is intrigued, but not ready to buy.

Next comes the final lesson, which is a piece about WordPress performance and security. Penny understands that you’ve got to have confidence in your theme, plugins, and hosting in order to provide a great experience for your visitors. StudioPress Sites is mentioned again, a little more prominently since it’s the solution to all those concerns.

On the next day, it’s the time for an offer. Penny gets the opportunity to get rolling with her new cooking site without paying a dime for the first month. She jumps on the deal, knowing she can cancel before paying if it turns out that she isn’t impressed with StudioPress.

But the journey’s not over

Now, our customer onboarding at StudioPress becomes part of the journey. If Penny doesn’t set up her site within those first 30 days, there’s a chance she’ll give up and cancel.

Fortunately, Penny does get her new site rolling, using one of the included themes and obtaining a custom logo from a designer she works with. She’s assembled an RSS list on Feedly of all her favorite sources for cooking content and is working up an overall strategy for her original content.

Just then, she’s delighted to receive an invitation to a webinar that will help her document her content marketing strategy and build her email list. It’s actually the next piece of content in the sequence she opted-in to — except it’s a version for people who purchased, designed to increase retention.

An alternate webinar that contains a different offer is provided to those who haven’t yet bought. This is a very simple example of how marketing automation can empower you to personalize the experience your prospects and customers encounter.

Meanwhile, Penny enjoys the weekly Unemployable newsletter, which provides advice related to both her freelance business and the direction she’s headed. She even begins promoting StudioPress Sites as an affiliate in the “do-it-yourself” section of her writing site. And finally, Penny eventually upgrades her StudioPress Site to the Commerce Plan as she begins creating her first natural cooking course.

The adaptive experience

Now, this person and her story are a fiction, right? But the better you know your prospect, the more accurate the experience will be. Once you put the content out there, you can test, tweak, and rearrange until you’re hitting all the touchpoints just right.

Once you’ve gone through the process of identifying with Penny at a very personal, human level, technology can then do amazing things. Your basic linear sequence of what she needs to hear from you can take into account all sorts of variables.

  • What if she doesn’t do the third lesson? How do you get her back on track?
  • What if she clicks on a certain link within a lesson? How does that change how you perceive her state of mind?
  • What if she powers through every lesson, but ignores every offer? What does that tell you about her viability as a prospect?

This is the point where marketing automation becomes magical. Not before you understand how to engage with your prospect on an empathetic level, but definitely once you do. You’re not only creating better content, you’ll have a better understanding as to what behaviors have significance during the sequence.

The clarity comes from “who”

I actually know Penny pretty well, since she’s one of the handful of “characters” I think of when I curate Unemployable and choose topics and guests for the podcast. We also have several different avatars for various use cases for StudioPress Sites.

Having a concrete persona to “talk” to makes things so much clearer. Instead of some vague notion of a funnel, you can actually see yourself as the mentor, guiding your prospect along on the journey, step by step.

And when it comes to email marketing, you’re no longer just “list building” in the abstract.

They say the money is in the list, but that’s not necessarily true — it’s got to be the right list that takes the right people on the right journey.

Have you mapped out your content marketing strategy yet? Let me know about the experience in the comments.

The post How Strategic Content Converts to Email Subscriptions and Sales appeared first on Copyblogger.

A Surefire Way to Get Constant Traffic to Your Content

"Not all aspects of your audience are equal." – Brian Clark

Two weeks ago, my side project Further had one of its highest traffic days ever.

If you’re not familiar, Further is a personal development email newsletter in which I curate content from around the web. It’s basically whatever I find useful and interesting related to health, wealth, wisdom, and travel.

So what sparked the traffic? After all, the newsletter’s primary function is to send traffic to other websites.

  • Was it a significant social share from a relevant influencer?
  • Did I spend a fortune on a pay-per-click advertising campaign?
  • Had I caught a link in another personal growth newsletter?

It was indeed a link from a personal growth newsletter. Only thing is, the link was from me, in the Further newsletter itself.

Here’s what happened.

After adding the category of travel to the topics I curate for the newsletter, I also decided to test including original travel articles on Further.net to see what the response would be.

Long story short, I met a travel writer at a conference in Austin, which resulted in The French Riviera for the Rest of Us, an article that shoots down the myth that la Côte d’Azur is only for wealthy movie stars and international men of mystery.

I first built an email-based audience with curated content, so that when I moved to original content, it would get guaranteed traffic. In fact, that article got tons of clicks, because after two years of serving the audience, I knew it would be a hit with my subscribers.

Let me give you another example. After more than a decade, Copyblogger gets massive amounts of organic traffic every single day from search, social, and 150,000 RSS subscribers.

But when is our biggest traffic day each week?

It’s Thursdays, when we publish the Copyblogger Weekly email digest to more than 222,000 people. You’re getting the idea.

Audience means email

What we teach here at Copyblogger is simple — build an audience with valuable content before you start selling. And in some cases, before you even have a product or service to sell.

Now, the audience of an online publisher has multiple components — social platforms, search engines, YouTube channels, podcast subscriptions, RSS, and email. But not all aspects of your audience are equal.

Email is far and above the most valuable audience channel. Some people have known that all along, and others have made email a priority even though they have big crowds on other platforms.

And yet, social and search get all the attention. It’s completely lopsided.

I have 185,000 Twitter followers. A tweet of Further content will get me around 20 clicks. Twenty bucks on a boosted Facebook post of the same content to 5,165 people who like the Further page gets even less.

But a link in my newsletter? More than 2,000 clicks from an email list of less than 7,500.

And sure, high search rankings are gold, Jerry. But as we recently discussed, if that traffic leaves without joining your real audience (i.e., email), what was it really worth?

Which brings us to the next big point. Email sells.

Email still converts best

When it comes to content distribution, email seems to be the forgotten hero. The focus is all on going viral on social and hitting that top ranking in Google.

But you may be better off just intently focusing on building the right list of email subscribers. Yes, those steady traffic blasts to your content can help with social and search, but they also drive what you’re really after — sales.

No matter how effective your social media and SEO efforts are, the place where prospects convert to customers and clients is still email.

Consider these stats:

  • Email marketing drives more conversions than any other marketing channel, including search and social. – Monetate
  • Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. – McKinsey
  • When it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social, direct mail, and more. – DMA

You know you need to build an email list. And search and social are indispensable for accomplishing that. But it’s also important not to chase traffic for traffic’s sake.

You only want traffic so you can sell more of your stuff.

Why content leads to the sale

You’re not going to build an email list of valuable prospects without the promise of valuable content. But once you get them on the list with your promise, why not just spam the hell out of them with your offers?

That approach seems to be back in vogue among the get-rich-quick crowd. But today’s savvy prospect is more likely to unsubscribe as soon as the pitches start, and then say ugly things about you on social.

The reason you continue to deliver valuable content beyond your initial promise is simple. You’re training people to open your emails and click on your links by being consistently amazing.

My esteemed colleague Sonia Simone thinks of this as treating your prospects like dogs (but only in the nicest way).

I’ve always been a bit squeamish about the dog analogy, but you get the idea. You want your emails to be not only opened, but anticipated.

Trust me, when the occasional offer comes, it will be viewed with a much more accepting frame of mind than otherwise. And that’s what you want.

The internet moves pretty fast. But email — the original “killer app” — persists as the backbone of it all.

In an upcoming article, I’ll walk you through how to approach building your email list. You’ll see that when it comes down to it, a smart content marketing strategy is primarily an email marketing strategy.

Image source: Frank Köhntopp via Unsplash.

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3 Strategic Ways to Get Links to Your Website

"'Link building' is something I’ve never done in my 19 years of publishing online." – Brian Clark

“Link building” is something I’ve never done in my 19 years of publishing online. In other words, I’ve never spent any time whatsoever emailing strangers and trying to convince them to link to my content.

I have, however, been on the receiving end of many link-building requests. And they’ve never worked on me.

Now, I know there are smart people who work on behalf of clients to get links through these outreach initiatives. Strangely, I’ve never received a link request from a smart person.

It’s usually just dopey people using bad email scripts and automation that some clown sold them on. They don’t even bother to modify the language, so you see the same lame emails over and over.

Outside of receiving compensation for a link (which I would never accept and is just a bad idea in general these days), I don’t see why any online publisher would agree to these requests. What’s in it for us?

So, if you’re looking to get links to your site for all the benefits that come with it (including enhanced search rankings), maybe you should try a different approach.

Let’s look at three that might work for you.

1. Guest posting

Not a new approach, certainly. But guest writing for relevant and respected publications remains one of the best ways to gain exposure to an audience that builds your own. And of course you’ll want, at minimum, a bio link back to your site in exchange for your content contribution.

Now, you may remember that Google at one point spoke out against guest posting for SEO. Yes, spammy sites submitting spam to other spammy sites in exchange for links is not smart — but that’s not what we’re talking about.

I’m also not necessarily talking about content farms like Forbes and Business Insider, although if that’s where your desired audience is, go for it. You’ll likely have better luck, however, with beloved niche publications that cater to the people you’re after.

What you’re looking for is a place that you can contribute on a regular basis, rather than a one-shot. Not only will the audience begin to get familiar with you after repeat appearances, the publisher will value and trust you, which can lead to coveted in-content links to relevant resources on your site rather than just the bio link.

What if a publisher doesn’t allow links back to your site? Move on. It’s not just about SEO — if a reader is interested in seeing more of your work, they should be able to simply click a link to do so. That’s how the web works.

If you’re limited to a bio link, see if you can point to something more valuable than your home page. A free guide or course that gets people onto your email list is the primary goal ahead of SEO.

2. Podcast interviews

The explosion of podcasting, especially the interview format, is a potential boon for exposure and links. In short, podcasters need a constant supply of guests, and you should position yourself as a viable option.

The links appear in the show notes, and this can be a great way to get citations to your home page, your valuable opt-in content, and your most valuable articles. But you have to find a way to get on the show in the first place.

This may be more doable than you think, because as I said, podcasters need a constant supply of fresh guests. And take it from me — we’re looking for new and interesting people outside of the typical echo chamber that exists in every niche.

For example, recently Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers introduced me to Talia Wolf, someone I was unfamiliar with. I trust and respect Joanna, so I checked out Talia. Next thing you know, I’m interviewing Talia (her episode of Unemployable comes out tomorrow) and I ended up linking to three of her articles as well as a page that contains her free conversion optimization resources.

The key, of course, is to do great work that reflects you know what you’re talking about. Then do your research:

  • Find relevant podcasts.
  • Take the time to understand the show, its audience, and its host.
  • Send a friendly note explaining why you would be a solid interview.

Don’t be shy; it’s just a (well-written) email, and podcasters want you to convince them to be their next guest. Or get someone who knows both your work and the host to recommend you. There are even podcast interview booking agencies cropping up that will do the outreach for you.

3. Tribal content

In the early days of Copyblogger, it was all about creating hugely valuable tutorial content that naturally attracted links. It’s harder these days, because most people tend to share that type of content on social channels rather than blog about it like back in the day.

You can still make it happen, though, with the right content and the right relationships with other publishers in your niche. It hinges on leveraging the powerful influence principle of unity, or our tribal affiliations with like-minded people.

Tribal content is all about resonating strongly with people who believe the way you do on a particular issue.

Rather than just “you’re one of us,” it’s more effective when it’s “you’re different like we’re different.”

For example, one of our prime tribal themes involves the dangers of digital sharecropping, or publishing content exclusively on digital land that you don’t own and control. We didn’t coin the term (Nicholas Carr did), but often when the topic comes up, there will be a mention of Copyblogger.

It works the other way, too. Whenever I see a solid piece of content that warns against digital sharecropping, I share it on social. And there’s a good chance I’ll link to it as outside support the next time we talk about the topic. You know, like this and this.

If there is an important worldview within your niche or industry that other online publishers share, it’s likely important that they make the case to their audiences. With tribal content, you’re providing an important message that supports part of their editorial strategy as well as your own.

That’s how the truly powerful links to your site happen. So start making a list of unifying concepts that you share with others in your arena, and make sure your relationships with those publishers are solid before you unleash your epic tribal content.

Wait … I was wrong

Now that I think about it, one link-building email almost worked on me. It was one of those cookie-cutter templates asking me to swap out a link in the web archive of my personal development newsletter Further.

When you curate content as I do with Further, linking to other people’s stuff is what it’s all about. So I took a look at the suggested resource, and it was surprisingly good.

I wrote back to say I wasn’t going to replace the old link, but I would include her resource in the next issue. Unfortunately, this person didn’t respond over the next several days.

What I got instead, just a day before publication, was the next automated email in her sequence, asking me if I had seen the original email that I had already replied to. Deleted that email, deleted the link to her resource in the draft issue, and included something else instead.

Which brings us to an important principle in both link building and life:

Don’t be a dope.

The post 3 Strategic Ways to Get Links to Your Website appeared first on Copyblogger.

Forget SEO

"Imagine a world without search engines ... it's easy if you try." – Brian Clark

Imagine.

Imagine a world without search engines …

It’s easy if you try.

No more surprise Google updates. No more worrying about XML sitemaps, robots.txt, and content analysis and optimization.

And perhaps most importantly, no more keyword research.

That last one means you’re going to have to go old-school to figure out the language of your audience to reflect it back to them. It’s going to take a lot more work.

You didn’t think you were going to get out of that one, did you?

Choosing the right words

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” – Mark Twain

When you’re executing on your content marketing strategy, what you say is crucial. But when it comes right down to engaging and converting your intended audience, how you say it becomes the definitive difference.

You need to speak the language of the audience. In a world with search engines, you get a glimpse directly into the mind of your prospect, based on the language they use when seeking a solution to a problem or looking for the answer to a question.

Back before search engines, writers and advertisers still had to discover the language of the intended audience. It just took more work.

You’ve likely heard of Eugene Schwartz, one of the most influential copywriters in the history of the craft. This is what he said on the topic back in the 1960s:

“One hour a day, read. Read everything in the world except your business. Read junk. Very much junk. Read so that anything that interests you will stick in your memory. Just read, just read, just read … There is your audience. There is the language. There are the words that they use.”

In that scenario, you’d have to rely solely on other content creators to get the language right. How do you know they did the proper work?

Still want to live in a world without search engines and keyword research?

You’re already doing the work

Let me be frank … it’s simply negligent to not use keyword research to understand the language of your audience so that you can reflect it back to them. And even when I’m not Frank (who is that, anyway?), you’re simply doing content marketing poorly if you’re not discovering and addressing the related topics that your prospects care about.

And once you’re covering the topics that matter, and using the language your audience uses, you’re doing most of what matters for search engine optimization. You don’t have to obnoxiously repeat keyword phrases anymore — Google has been smarter than that for years now.

For example, voice search has increased sevenfold since 2010, thanks to mobile. This gives you a more conversational glimpse into the minds of your audience, while also allowing you to write in a natural, engaging manner that Google still understands.

Plus, Google’s semantic abilities continue to improve. The algorithm interprets queries based on what users mean, even if that differs from what they searched. And Google’s AI is even beginning to understand metaphors.

In short, if you do the work that’s required to understand the language and cover the topics your audience cares about in the context of doing business with you, you’re doing the bulk of the work that constitutes modern SEO.

From there, the rest of the learning curve isn’t that bad. And you’ve got technology on your side for that.

The real danger of focusing on SEO

The real danger of SEO isn’t that you’ll create content designed for robots. People use search engines, not robots — so you’re always creating for humans. And Google not only wants you to do that, they require it.

You run into problems when you chase search traffic as if it’s an end instead of a means. The intentional nature of search traffic makes it a potential gold mine, but only if you do something with it.

In other words, ranking number one in Google for a coveted search term means nothing if that traffic doesn’t further a business objective.

  • Are they likely to click deeper into the site?
  • How about a content upgrade that gets them on your email list?
  • Can you get them to check out your product or service?

There’s nothing worse than a quick bounce. And search traffic bounces even if you do a great job of answering the initial question — if you don’t give them a next step, that is.

Traffic doesn’t mean squat without some form of conversion. And search traffic is not your audience; it’s just a highly qualified missed opportunity unless you get them onto an email list or prompt them to make a purchase.

The SEO last mile

If you’re doing the real work of understanding the problems, desires, and language of your audience, you might as well do the remaining work of optimizing for search engines. And most of that is handled by technology.

Primarily, you need a mobile-friendly site that loads fast. Which, let’s face it, you’d need even in our imaginary scenario where search engines don’t exist. People are still people, and that’s why Google wants you to optimize for their experience.

If you’ve done the extra work to rank well in search engines, you now owe it to yourself to optimize for conversion as well — because that’s what you need to do for any kind of traffic, right?

Which brings me to my real point here. Outside of purely technical issues due to legacy website problems, SEO is not separate from content marketing. It’s an integrated aspect of content marketing.

And if you need a fast-loading, mobile-responsive website, that’s what we’re here to help with.

Our StudioPress Sites come standard with all the SEO functionality you’ll need, including:

  • Our patented keyword research, content analysis, and optimization tools
  • Advanced schema control
  • XML sitemaps
  • Robots.txt generation
  • Asynchronous JavaScript loading
  • Enhanced Open Graph output
  • Breadcrumb title control
  • AMP support, and more.

Find out more here.

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The Persuasive Power of Analogy

"The right analogy, at the right time, told the right way, may be exactly what they need to do business with you." – Brian Clark

An elderly man storms into his doctor’s office, steaming mad.

“Doc, my new 22-year-old wife is expecting a baby. You performed my vasectomy 30 years ago, and I’m very upset right now.”

“Let me respond to that by telling you a story,” the doctor calmly replies.

“A hunter once accidentally left the house with an umbrella instead of his rifle. Out of nowhere, a bear surprised him in the woods … so the hunter grabbed the umbrella, fired, and killed the bear.”

“Impossible,” the old man snaps back. “Someone else must have shot that bear.”

“And there you have it,” the doctor says.

Persuasion come from understanding

At the heart of things, persuasion is about your audience understanding what you’re communicating. Understanding leads to acceptance when the argument is sound, well-targeted, and the conclusion seems unavoidable.

When it comes to creating effective understanding, analogies are hard to beat. Most of their persuasive power comes from the audience arriving at the intended understanding on their own.

The doctor could have simply said that the old man’s wife had to be cheating on him. But the analogy allowed the cranky patient to come to that conclusion on his own, which is much more persuasive.

Let’s take a second to make sure we’re all on the same page with analogies. It first helps to distinguish them from their close cousins, metaphor and simile.

A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses one thing to mean another and makes a comparison between the two. A simile compares two different things in order to create a new meaning while using the words “like” or “as.”

An analogy is comparable to a metaphor and simile in that it shows how two different things are similar, but it’s a bit more complex.

Rather than a figure of speech, an analogy is more of a logical argument. The structure of the argument leads to a new understanding for the audience.

When you deliver an analogy, you demonstrate how two things are alike by pointing out shared characteristics (a hunter with an unloaded umbrella and an elderly man who is “firing blanks” sexually). The goal is to show that if two things are similar in some ways, they are similar in other ways as well.

Let me give you an example of a killer persuasive analogy. It comes from that master of sophisticated rhetoric, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

No, really.

The Terminator analogy

Schwarzenegger is an advocate for renewable energy, both for California and the world at large. Given his celebrity status and prior political experience as Governor of California, he has quite the platform to share his views.

Just over a year ago, Arnold published a piece on Facebook called I don’t give a **** if we agree about climate change. That provocative title set the stage for what could be called a “terminator” analogy, in the sense that it puts any intellectually honest person in an inescapable box that supports the conclusion Schwarzenegger wants you to arrive at.

First, Arnold says forget whatever you think about climate change. He goes so far as to say that climate change deniers can assume that they’re right.

He then turns to the facts of the here and now:

  • 7 million people die every year from pollution
  • 19,000 people die every day from pollution from fossil fuels
  • Renewable energy is driving economic growth

Then, Arnold turns to an analogy that illustrates his argument in a very personal way:

“There are two doors. Behind Door Number One is a completely sealed room, with a regular, gasoline-fueled car. Behind Door Number Two is an identical, completely sealed room, with an electric car. Both engines are running full blast.

I want you to pick a door to open, and enter the room and shut the door behind you. You have to stay in the room you choose for one hour. You cannot turn off the engine. You do not get a gas mask.

I’m guessing you chose Door Number Two, with the electric car, right? Door Number One is a fatal choice — who would ever want to breathe those fumes?

This is the choice the world is making right now.”

Talk about putting someone in a box — literally. By sidestepping the controversy over climate change and making the outcome of exposure to fossil fuel emissions a matter of personal life or death, Arnold likely changed the minds of more than a few reasonable people.

Now, this is the internet. So, I’m sure some people simply refuse to be swayed no matter what, and some trolls probably said they’d rather choose the deadly Door Number One than do anything perceived as good for the environment.

Well, there is a way to set up a real-life demonstration of this analogy if anyone’s interested. :-)

Why marketing analogies work like a charm

I shared Schwarzenegger’s analogy because it’s a brilliant example. But keep in mind that unlike with contentious social issues, your prospects want you to convince them.

If someone has a problem they want solved or a desire they want fulfilled, they want to find a solution. If they’re currently a part of your audience, they want you to be the solution.

That means they want to understand why you’re the best choice. Which means they want to be persuaded.

And that’s the essence of content marketing strategy. Tell your particular who exactly what they need to hear, exactly how they need to hear it.

The right analogy, at the right time, told the right way, may be exactly what they need to do business with you …

And there you have it.

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