I recently attended the Unbounce CTA Conference in Vancouver, where Aaron Orendorff of iconiContent made a brilliant presentation entitled Let’s Get Rejected: 3 Counter-Intuitive Tactics for Successful & Brand Defining-Content. It touched on the right way to build sales with content strategy. I’ve often touched on integrating sales and marketing here and I just felt that his presentation touched on so much I’ve been wanting to say lately.

The phrase, ‘content is king,’ gets tossed around a lot in marketing discussions these days, but what does it actually mean? A company has a voice, and the content it publishes or broadcasts is a direct reflection of that voice. As I mentioned in this case study, to build sales with content, you need a clear-cut strategy and a laser focus on your audience to turn them into leads for your sales process.

Aaron spoke of the three lies we believe when we set out to create content.

Lie #1: When creating popular content, you think it’s all about you. It’s all about them.

Popular content is about vanity metrics, and that’s what gets discovered online.  Find out what’s trending using a tool like buzzsumo. Then find a way to incorporate that into your content.

For example, through some research Aaron found that the topic of celebrity-meets-business was trending. He put together the Mindy Kaling Guide to Entrepreneurial Domination, which he then sent to entrepreneur.com. The article’s popularity led to his getting a spot as an ongoing contributor.

When you’re brainstorming your next marketing campaign themes, don’t just make a list of topics that you think are interesting. Do some research and find out what your particular audience wants to see – and give that to them.

Lie # 2: When it comes to producing sales-worthy content you think it’s about sales. It’s actually about salvation.

It’s not about entertaining your audience. You want to help them. Any time you put up a landing page, or product description page, ask yourself:

  • What is the hell this will save people from?
  • What is the heaven this will deliver them unto?

Use qualitative research to figure out where audiences think your product or service (or a competitor’s) could improve. Find clues in user-generated content such as comments posted on blogs, YouTube, social media, or requests in FAQ and customer feedback forms. Look at reviews posted on Amazon, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc for more clues about what audiences want, then determine how your product or service can deliver them to salvation.

Lie # 3: Brand-defining content is about success

Brand-defining content is actually about failure. Why? That makes it something audiences can relate to. Who wants to watch a film or read a novel in which the protagonist lives a comfortable existence from start to finish? Heroes are born out of the obstacles and setbacks they must overcome.

Your brand has a story, and as a brand you are the storyteller. Add some humanizing element of failure into the mix and let audiences empathize with and root for you.

An example of this is Dominos Pizza’s The Pizza Turnaround campaign. It was a mini-documentary in which the company addressed customer complaints. This proved their dedication to customers and helped them to improve their product.

Even when you’re putting out branded marketing content that connects with your audience, you will get plenty of people who try to tune you out (even if you thought your targeting was spot-on). But those rejections will just help you refine your targeting even more – so once they’re in your sales funnel, you’ll have an even greater chance of success. Don’t fear rejection. Make it work for you.