Subtle Selling: The Key to Writing Great Content AND Making Money Online
Note from Marcus*** Just some quick news before today’s rockin article folks. Today(Tuesday) I’ll be flying out to Cleveland to speak at Content Marketing World. I’m sure I’ll be writing quite a bit about this event in the coming days but if anyone lives in the Cleveland area and would like to catch up, please let me know.
Also, last week I was interviewed by Steve Roy over at the great blog Ending the Grind. If you’d like to listen to the podcast, please check it out, as it really dives into how the community here at TSL has grown into something so special, as well as many other areas of business and marketing.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…… 🙂
I look around the web and can’t help but notice how many bloggers get so frustrated with the fact that they can’t seem to make money with their blogs. And honestly, when I see this, my response is normally about the same:
“Duh, you’re not selling me anything.”
Yep. That’s right. You may think your offering this product or that service (because you *mention* it somewhere on your ‘about’ page), but the reality is I (and everyone else), as your potential customer, have no clue what you do, which is why you keep wondering when the checks from your blog are going to start rolling in.
The Art of Subtle Selling
Here’s the thing my friends: If you really want to create a brand and a blog that make good money you have to learn the art of ‘subtle selling’ (as I like to call it), which is essentially the skill of integrating your services into your content…without sounding like a pitching machine.
You know what I mean by pitching machine, right? Yeah, it’s that guy or gal that seems to offer you something ‘amazing’ and ‘for a limited time only’ with every new email that hits your inbox. Eventually, after you realize this blogger gives you the content value of a brick, you happily unsubscribe from their mind-numbing newsletters. (Nod if you’ve seen this before…. 😉 )
But on the other hand, you’ve got another entire group online that are the opposite of ‘the pitching machine’. They write content all day, even sometimes build awesome communities, but don’t sell squat.
Thus we have an ‘all or nothing’ mentality all over the web, and it’s got to stop if we want to start making money folks.
Great Content Combined with Selling
Let me give you an example of exactly what I’m talking about. This past June, I wrote an article entitled 12 Hours to Change a Company Forever: A Story About Business and Life. For those of you that haven’t read this article (actually, stop now and just read the thing 🙂 ), it tells of a trip I made to Arizona to help a company kick-off their inbound marketing efforts and revamp their web presence. The post, which was written with a unique hour-by-hour timeline, discusses every facet of inbound marketing I covered with the company (i.e. my services) and what was accomplished (i.e. the results of my services) with the visit.
Because the experience was full of lessons of what this company was missing and what they needed to do next to achieve better marketing, the article had plenty of value to the readers of this blog because just about everyone could relate to components of the story in one way or another.
But what most folks don’t understand is that because of that one article, on multiple occasions since I’ve heard a derivative of this phrase:
Marcus, I remember reading about how you went out to that one company and worked with them and their website. I’d like you to do something similar with our company…
My friends, this is the type of statement you should be hearing again and again from your customers. They read your stuff. They hear your stories. And they clearly see you can be the guy/gal to come up with the answers to their problems.
But again, the key here is learning to talk about client experiences while offering killer content to your reader base.
Let’s look at another person who really ‘gets’ the art of subtle selling.
Falchetto Doing It Right
Last week, John Falchetto wrote an article entitled “4 Ways to Manage Fear in Business Abroad”. At the beginning of the piece, he says:
Yesterday I had a conversation with a client about fear, let’s call him “Steve”.
Without going into the details, Steve feels that if he embraces who he truly is, he would end up alone. His business has been growing steadily over the past years but he doesn’t feel he is expressing his unique and authentic self.
He fears that by discovering his he is more than what he thinks he is, his world as he knows it will collapse. It will…
John went on to talk about ‘Steve’ and used the story as the foundation of the theme of the article—overcoming fear.
In essence, this is the perfect example of subtle selling. To one reader, John was simply talking about fear. To another, he was telling him “Hey, I can coach and mentor you just as I’ve coached and mentored ‘Steve’.
Do you see what I’m saying here? If you’re not talking about real life experiences that you’re having with customers often on your blog, then you’re seriously missing out on major business opportunities. (BTW, John has signed up multiple coaching clients this year simply because of his blog.)
Keep in mind though that this principle applies to any blog, any industry, and any niche.
Just to give you one last quick example, let’s use the article I posted for my swimming pool company today. The title of the post was “Just How Much Fun are Inground Swimming Pools…Really??”, and it consisted an incredible under-water video taken by a customer of mine as their boys kept jumping in their swimming pool. If you read the article(and watch the video), you’ll see the ‘theme’ of the piece is ‘Yes, Pools are dang fun.’, but you’ll also notice how in a very subtle manner I mentioned the fact that the video was produced by a very happy customer of River Pools and Spas who had their pool installed last year in the town of Stafford Va. (Little details like places add social proof, and further enhance an article’s ability to sell).
Tell the World
My point in mentioning this is simple my friends. Stop just writing content that doesn’t actually talk about your services. If you really are helping people out there, for the love of Pete start telling the world about it. Again, this doesn’t mean that you brag. Rather, it’s a simple process of telling others what life has taught you….which in-turn tell us why you’re the best man for the job. 🙂
Subtle selling folks. Do it, and watch the results that will follow.
OK, so we may not get 250 comments on this article like we did on the last one, but I still expect some great discussion. In your opinion, what makes for great ‘subtle selling’? And, are you using this skill like you should be on your blog? If not, WHY?? If so, what works well for you? As always, jump on in folks, I’d love to hear your story.
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