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People don’t care about your business, they care about their problems. What’s your content doing about that?

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Your content shouldn’t ever attempt to directly sell. Try that and you’ll likely see your sales funnel empty out rather quickly.

Are you even listening to me? It’s the growing refrain from people searching online. For the most part, their search results provide them with a seemingly endless list of websites offering products and services. That’s nice. But, they’re looking for something else first.

Before they even start to investigate your product or service, they want to be assured that you understand their problem. Meanwhile, your content is all about how great your product or service works. It’s like going to the doctor and having her prescribe a medication to you without even asking why you made the appointment.

Time to get a new doctor. Time to find a company that shows it’s listening.

Upside-down approach

The content you create for prospects should help them move their way into the sales funnel. If you’re starting with content that tells the story of how your product or service works, you’ve got things upside-down.

Prospects aren’t even interested in hearing about your product or service at this point. They want first to make sure you understand their problem. You’re missing the boat if you don’t have deep wells of content that demonstrates you completely understand their pain points.

This type of content gets at the heart of storytelling. It’s emotion-driven and its purpose is to prove that you know precisely all about their problem or frustration. You’re able to describe it and even duplicate it. You also want to introduce them to others you’ve met who share this problem or frustration.

Fancy meeting you here…

And you’re darn tootin’ right. That means you’ll be refraining from talking about how your product or service solves this problem. Because that’s selling – and excuse me, but I don’t care about your business. I’m currently only interested in establishing that you know what I’m talking about.

Prospects want to participate in a process of discovery. Of course, it was your carefully crafted content injected with the appropriate SEO, that facilitated this. Munch on the modesty: prospects want to believe they discovered you all by themselves.

Information freely given

Once your content has been successful in proving that you know and understand the prospect’s problem…it’s still not time to start talking about your product or service. Sorry.

It is, however, time to prove that you are an authority. Now your content must shift and explain how prospects can solve their problem.

Good grief. This is turning out to be a whole lot of content generation, and you’re not even using it to sell your product yet. Bingo. Your content shouldn’t ever attempt to directly sell. Try that and you’ll likely see your sales funnel empty out rather quickly.

The storytelling you offer at this point is all about education. It’s information freely given that proves you’re an authority on the subject. You know the problem, and you have a solution. And, this is where your storytelling sets the hook.

The product or service that you ultimately will offer to them is also being marketed by your competitors. Price? They can match it. Delivery? Ditto. What your competitors cannot beat you at is your ability to connect with prospects by showing you’re listening and that you understand their problem. Your ability to do this is because…

Your content must clearly communicate why you offer this product or service. This just might be the only competitive advantage you have. It’s certainly the most powerful. Would you put much credence in laundry tips from someone who only takes their clothes to the dry cleaner?

When you successfully prove to a prospect that you’ve walked in their shoes, then they’re ready to hear your solution.

The big reveal

Congratulations: your storytelling has set the foundation for a relationship. So far, you’ve made it all about the prospect. And that’s as it should be. This is a self-directed journey, and they can take the next exit any time they want. Prospects will take the next exit if they feel they’re not in control – which is exactly what will happen if your content has a focus on your product or service instead of their problem.

Your storytelling is all about relationship-building. It’s a time where a prospect validates that you understand their problem and you’ve successfully solved it yourself. The irony is that it’s not the story you want to tell. You want everyone to know about your product or service. If your content reflects that desire, you’re prescribing medicine before you’ve even asked your prospect where it hurts.

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