To understand how great content will make social media work for your business, consider the classic story of US ad agency owner Max Hart and his advertising manager George L Dyer.

They were discussing how long the copy in advertisements should be and Dyer said, “I bet you ten dollars I can write a newspaper page of solid type and you’d read every word of it.” Hart dismissed the idea, but Dyer then told him what the headline on his advertisement would say: “This page is all about Max Hart.”

While David Ogilvy in his Confessions of an Advertising Man uses this story to argue that longer content will gain a sale, the story also illustrates an important principle. If you are selling to Max Hart, the copy needs to be about Max Hart.

Social media is a must-have part of any business’s marketing mix, top marketing expert Neil Patel argues. But you have to invest some effort to make your content stand out in the crowd.

Patel’s latest numbers show the number of visits you will achieve per 100 social followers has dropped by more than 38% over the past three years to just over two. This figure is a useful proxy for the general trend on platforms including LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

While the social media platform owners are all pushing advertising options to reach customers, Patel says that there are two things you must do to maintain an effective reach through organic posts:

  • Maintain a good frequency; target is eight posts a month
  • Focus on content that your customers love.

The secret to a great social media post is to write about what is in people’s minds, not what you are selling.

This is one reason it pays to get outside help with your content. Most business teams spend their time working on the features of their products that will benefit customers. So naturally, they want to talk about those product features and why they are better than competitors. For many, it is difficult to shift from this focus to look at the benefits that a customer is seeking.

Most customers have key jobs to be done that either solve a pain or produce a gain. Jobs for a consumer could range from what meal shall I eat tonight to how do I get my car repaired. For a business, they could range from how do I win customers in a new market to where do I find a new supplier. The trigger to unlock sales is to persuade the customer that your product will give them the result that they are looking for.

The process of creating great copy involves identifying first who the customer is and what jobs they need to be done. Then you look at the value proposition of your product and marry your features to the benefit they will give the customer. Then write about how the customer will feel when they have received the benefit.

To understand this, consider the milkshake research undertaken for McDonalds. It wanted to sell more milkshakes and hired Clayton Christensen to work out how. His team found that in the morning customers were buying milkshakes to give them something to do on a boring drive to work. Instead of a milkshake, they could buy a banana or a Snickers bar, but the benefit of the milkshake was it took a long time to consume.

To grow sales, the company changed the recipe in the morning so that the milkshakes took even longer to consume, which delivered more value for the customer.

Getting an outside opinion to focus on the real customer benefits is a terrific way to make your marketing work harder for you.

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