Stop Paying for Advertising Before Testing Your Story

Imagine growing a plant. You need to nourish it so it will become a full-grown tree. Just like your business blog.

Your digital presence also needs “nourishment” for it to grow. Your brand’s website needs content.

It’s a common mistake for most marketers to focus on promoting their sites right away, even if it doesn’t have much substance yet.

You want to drive traffic to your website. You want new leads and sign ups.

To achieve your goals, it’s easy to think about advertising. But before you promote, you want high-converting material first. You don’t want to pay for visibility if people won’t get convinced by what they read.

When they discover you, after you spent time and dollars, your material better be great.

Give them a powerful first impression.

WHY TELL AMAZING STORIES

survey from Smart Insights, shows that content marketing remains to be the most effective marketing technique.

We know that content will always be king.

Having said that, you have to do it right.

You can spend thousands of $$$ to boost a dull message. You can get a million views without any conversion.

Compare that to spending your marketing budget developing the creative. You can tell a powerful story that 13 people will see, which will convert a handful of high-value transactions.

CHARACTERISTICS OF A GREAT STORY

No matter how difficult storytelling seems, here are some recommendations on how to write engaging content:

PERSONALIZE

Make sure your content is relatable. Answers to problems that normal people may have.

VOKRA created an email campaign, wherein it tells the story of a cat, Mr. Bungo, that was saved by the company. It appealed to all cat lovers who received the email. It’s safe to say that Mr. Bungo got the donations he deserved.

EMOTIONS

Humor. Pain. Nostalgia.

These are just some of the emotions you can incorporate with your content. People are such emotion magnets. Seeing and reading about things that appeal to their sentiments are always memorable for them.

SolidWorks created something funny out of the very technical aspect of their industrial designs. They created SolidWorks Simulation Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit. It tells people how to board up their doors in case of a zombie apocalypse. It’s a very clever way to advertise a product!

PROBLEM AND SOLUTION

You have the solution for people’s problems. Focus on the pain points and let them know how you can solve those pains.

Dermatology sites, like Facing Acne, focuses on people’s acne problems. They write about solutions to that problem. Add some testimonials from expert dermatologists and you get more credibility.

WHERE TO TEST YOUR STORY

#1: IN-PERSON CONVERSATIONS

Stand-up comedians enjoy a unique luxury.

They can be telling a sensitive joke and still be graceful about it.

Why? In the moment, they can adjust their approach. They can change their course based on the audience’s reaction.

If they’re laughing, they can keep expounding on that joke.

If the audience is starting to “boo,” they can recover by adjusting the joke.

The same is true for testing your pitch.

When telling your brand’s story to a potential investor, you can see what words capture their interest. You can sense if they’d rather leave the conversation because it’s getting too boring.

Based on real-world reactions, craft a story that you’ll turn into digital content. Note what words tend to work so you can keep using them online.

#2: MESSAGING APPS AND EMAIL

Having trouble hitting our favorite button?

At NorthStories.io, our favorite button is “Publish.”

Clicking it enables us to get out in the wild and test market response.

But we’re not forgetting our 2nd favorite button. It’s called “Send.”

Unlike publishing, sending a message gives you a little more confidence. You’re sending an email or instant message to just 1 or 3 of your close buddies, so there’s less stage fright.

By sending your pitch to a handful of trusted people, you’ll be able to battle test at tiny scale.

You can measure your story’s effectiveness based on:

  • How fast they respond
  • Their encouragement
  • If they offer support (or tell you “shut up and take my money!”)

Okay, some of your friends (and your mom) may not give the most honest feedback. Regardless, the simple exercise of pitching your story to another warm body forces you to come up with content.

The mere experience of sharing the story allows you to make it better.

Sending your product’s pitch to a small group online is still unlike meeting people in person. You don’t have the luxury of seeing their eyeballs. Can’t check if the pupils are actually dilating.

Having said that, it’s far better to validate your content via email or messaging than not validating it at all.

#3: TEST WITH LOTS OF FREE TRAFFIC

Don’t have friends? You have internet friends.

I’m kidding, of course, you’re a likable person. It’s just useful to tap people online regardless.

Try your pitch on free platforms. Turn it into a Tweetable advice. Create an infographic about points you want to get out there.

Craft a great pitch and validate it with communities around you. Test your material on Quora, Reddit, Twitter and other related sites. You don’t need to talk about your startup all the time. You can discuss how customer’s problems can be solved using your tips and tricks.

By actively participating in communities, you’ll see what tends to work and what doesn’t.

TIPS FOR CRAFTING A POWERFUL STORY

FOCUS ON WHAT’S ALREADY POPULAR

Validation of content can be based on past content. You can go over your old posts to see which ones have the most engagement.

Once you find the popular ones, create something similar. It can be the same concept or a slightly modified angle.

Copyblogger is known for great content about copywriting, marketing and engaging audiences. What they are also good at is repurposing content. Take their article, The 3-Step Journey of a Remarkable Piece of Content. Very popular. Made even more popular when they repurposed it into a SlideShare.

Have a look for yourself:

CHOOSE THE PROPER DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL

Many marketers don’t take into consideration the content distribution channels when planning their content.

Even if you have created the most mind-boggling content, what’s the point if no one is reading it. It also won’t matter if you’re getting 10,000 likes on Twitter but aren’t reaching your target customers.

Define your target audience. Be visible where they are.

In our case at NorthStories.io, we care about these communities today:

What communities are in your list? Where does your audience hang out?

ASK QUESTIONS

In marketing, it’s not always all about you. In fact, it’s rarely about you.

Nurture community relationships.

Ask and you will find out what people are looking for, what their pains are, and what they’re looking to purchase.

When you know what people want, you can cater your content to provide for their needs. Your content is what will bring those prospects knocking on your door. It’s the hook that will lead them straight to your business.

Sites like Quora are frequented by not only by people who have questions. People also hang out there to share their expertise and experiences.

Asking questions can work 2 ways for you:

  • You get answers from real people about problems they have. You will be surprised at how readily people will tell you about what they want and need.
  • You can put yourself in your prospect’s shoes to get data and information from experts. Those that have been there and done that.

Convert the information you will acquire into content. Real-time content and from actual people.

DO MORE OF WHAT WORKS

You now know how well people are engaging with your content. Now it’s time to produce more content ad boost them so more people will be able to see. Repurpose your best content. Create slides and infographics.

There is no limit to the amount of content you can write on a given subject.

If it works, why fix it?

Take advantage of the formula that brings results and optimize it further.

AFTER VALIDATING YOUR CONTENT, WHAT’S NEXT?

It’s time to repurpose and distribute your content.

PODCAST

Turn your content into a podcast. Begin with the answers from the questions that you asked. There are many who prefer listening over reading.

Don’t have your own podcast? Why not be a guest.

Help out a friend. Nurture relationships. Grow your audience by tapping on someone else’s following.

INFOGRAPHICS

You probably heard about tools like Canva.

These days, it’s easier than ever to produce visual content.

With tools and services, there’s nothing stopping you from distributing your validated content on visual platforms like Pinterest and Slideshare.

EBOOK

Rewrite your content and make it into an ebook. The good thing with ebooks is that you can offer them as supplementary content. You can offer them in your emails or as part of a similar content. Ebooks can be used in a variety of ways.

ADVERTISING

Other than repurposing your content, you’ll be in the position to pay for distribution.

You may have heard advice that focuses on battle-testing ideas with Adwords. These days however, it’s so easy to get free attention.

If your story doesn’t even get engagement from hundreds of free views per day, why bother boosting your visibility with dollars?

You can head over a niche forum, Quora, or Medium and it’s easy to chime in high-traffic discussions.

When your content is validated, it’s a different story. You can resort to Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, or even buying advertising spots on independent media channels like podcasts.

OVER TO YOU

Carefully craft your content before advertising. It’s how people drive traffic to their sites. Don’t make the same mistake as those who don’t focus on content over anything else.

Tell your amazing story and get traffic to your site while you’re at it!