In high school I got a job as a radio DJ.
In short, my job was to listen to music and talk to myself. (Not a bad gig for a teenager.)
After several years, I got pretty good at talking off the cuff while on the air. I knew how to fill 27 seconds with a comment about a news story or give the perfect 7 second intro to a song before the singing started.
But there was one thing I always had trouble talking about.
I had no problem talking about the latest news story or song but when it came time to talk about myself and my business, especially my services, I was terrible.
It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in what I was selling, I just didn’t know how to talk about or who to talk to. So I felt salesy whenever I’d start talking about what I did.
But I had my definitions mixed up. I was lumping shameless self-promotion, marketing and sales into one definition.
They couldn’t be more different.
Shameless self-promotion is talking to anyone that’ll listen about yourself the matter if they want to hear or not.
Marketing is telling your target audience a timely story in such a way that they can’t help but want more.
And sales is closing the deal. Marketing’s job is to produce leads for the sales department.
By saying that we hate or are not good at promoting our brand or content because we don’t want to come off as slimy is making the assumption that no one wants to hear what we have to say.
Your message reaches four types of people:
Obviously the people in group one are your target audience.
But we spend way too much time making sure every one of our customers fits this profile. If you only focus on the right people at the right time you’ll never maximize your growth because you’re missing out on some of your best customers.
Let me explain..
The people in group two (The right prospects at the wrong time) may not be ready to buy from you today but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. In fact, paying a little attention to these future clients now will create a steady stream of qualified leads if you continue to nurture them.
Your job is to provide your future leads in group two with educational content to help them make the best decision possible when they’re ready to buy. You can educate and prepare them through blog posts, email newsletters and automated sequences, ebooks, videos etc..
But education isn’t enough. If you only educate your prospects without positioning your brand and motivating them to buy, you’ll land in the content marketing friend zone.
You know what I mean.. You’ll stay the good friend who they trust but don’t ultimately choose.
Mapping your content into early, middle and late stages will not only make your site more useful, it’ll help prospects prequalify themselves and motivate them to buy when they’re ready.
The people in group three aren’t your target audience but treat them right and they will be your most powerful group. These people don’t need your service but they just finished chatting with someone that does.
They are your greatest source of referrals.
If your message is clear and your content is so good they’re proud to share it, they won’t have any trouble referring you when they come across the perfect prospect.
Everyone that doesn’t fit into the above three groups lands in group four. Good news! These are the people you don’t need to worry about.
Many businesses mistakenly spend a majority of their time with this group because they have one or two qualities they think they want in a prospect. So they pivot their message towards them but only end up diluting it.
Group four is the most likely to see your message as a salesy promotion or annoyance because they have zero need for it.
Rather than spending another minute, forget them and spend your time exclusively in the other three groups!
By focusing on these three groups and providing valuable and relevant content, you’ll build a content machine that attracts new leads, educates prospects and equips referrals to sell for you.
Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife and son.