How to create compelling content

“What am I expecting my audience to do differently tomorrow?” If you can’t answer this question after consuming a piece of content, then what was the purpose of the communication at all?

All too often we finish building our content piece, summarise what we have written, and then fizzle. Or we deliver a vague or unrelated product pitch.

In his latest video blog, Hugh demonstrates how to reach a convincing and persuasive conclusion with your content. He shares a sure-fire method to building compelling content and stresses how important it is that your content takes your buyer one step forward in their journey.

“Okay, so yeah I guess that’s it, yep alright well thank you all for coming you’ve been a great audience.” Really? If you’ve got the most amazing opening, the best content and the most wonderful story to tell and you can’t bring your story to a close it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the close and in this blog I’m going to show you how to bring your content to a compelling conclusion.

So think about the process of crafting a piece of content whether it’s a slide or a video like this, a whitepaper, presentations or whatever your content is you think about the normal creative process of building that thing. You’ve got some idea in your head that you want to tell. That’s going to be your main theme and obviously we don’t want to lose that. So, we’re off to a great start so we start writing on slide one or page one, we write what we think is an okay opening and then we put down some of our content, we go back and we re-write the opening to maybe more compelling perhaps or maybe a bit more relevant perhaps given the content isn’t played out. Then we reach a fizzle, we might summarise the content again and again I don’t care about what the format is this is largely how the process works for most of us, certainly does for me. We reach the end, we arrive at the last piece we maybe summarise all that we’ve said and then we either just fizzle or perhaps we descend to a silly and kind of unrelated product pitch or a vaguely related product pitch. We have to do so much better than that. We’ve got to reach a compelling, convincing and persuasive conclusion and that’s what we’re going to work out how to do.

Think about a whitepaper that you’ve read or even worse, a presentation that you attended and think about how you feel as a consumer of that piece of content by the time you get to the end and I’ll pick on presentations because the point is going to be a bit starker. You get to the end and you think “well gee, that presenter really knew some stuff, they were quite cleaver and they were even entertaining, so what am I going to do differently tomorrow as a result?” And if you can’t nail your answer to that question, what was the purpose of the communication at all? Again, it’s all about the close.

We actually need to write a conclusion first. It’s easy to say and hard to do, certainly I find it hard to do but I force myself. What’s the conclusion I want to reach? and then for that conclusion to be relevant to even make sense, one of the arguments I need to have laid out again and hopefully persuasively along the way for that conclusion to be valid. Write the conclusion first. Lay out the arguments necessary to reach that conclusion without looking kind of silly and only then work out what introduction is going to earn the right to enough audience or enough attention from the audience to be able to lay out your arguments to reach a conclusion. In other words, we have to write it backwards.

Well does it matter where we conclude? Isn’t it all about just bringing it home to anywhere? Well, of course it’s not, it’s a silly question. That wouldn’t be true in Sales – you’re trying to close a sale. Likewise, in Marketing there’s actually a specific conclusion we want to reach. Not just any conclusion. But how do you work out what the specific conclusion should be? Is it all about well given the idea I want to tell, where is the best place I can get them not on a good day. That’s so indulgent about the story that you want to tell. It should be the other way around. Where do I need you as an audience to reach today with this piece of content and only then, what story do I need to tell to reach that conclusion? So, we actually need some kind of framework for working out what the conclusion should be first, then the specifics to the conclusion – the story that’s going to get to that conclusion, and then the opening. So before any of what I just said, we actually need to work out what the overall process is.

To those that know the content and know this blog well, you know I’m about to mount an argument for the buyer’s journey so let me just get right to it. It’s all about the buyer’s journey. Somewhere between ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ there are some signpost-able, understandable, logical steps for the buyer not for you the seller but for the buyer. Somewhere between ‘who are you?’ and ‘thank you very much’ there are some logical points they’re going to reach. Every piece of content has a job to get them from somewhere in that journey to somewhere else in that Buyer’s Journey. So before we write our piece of content we obviously need to know where in the journey are we trying to get them to and where in the Buyer’s Journey are we trying to get them from. Now, the job of my content presentation, whitepaper, Slideshare, whatever mode or medium you’re going to use for your story, I now have a framework. I started in fact with a framework – this is the journey, what tactics are going to be good enough to get a buyer from A to B to B to C etc. Now where does my thing that I am building right now fit into that? Therefore, what stage am I trying to get them from and what stage am I trying to get them to with this piece of content?

In a moment or two I’ll show you how we use Funnel Plan to identify the journey and the conclusion we need each piece of content to reach. But before we do that I am going to do two things: share with you the conclusion that is, how do we actually need each piece of content to conclude? How do we build compelling content? And secondly, I’ll invite you then to receive more blogs like this. Let’s get first to the conclusion. How do we make our content really compel? I’ll do this in three parts. Let me begin firstly with the overall framework that we’ve already covered so far. If it’s all about the close, if it’s all about reaching a compelling conclusion and that conclusion sticking, not the content sticking then I probably need to write the conclusion first. Then, lay out the arguments necessary to reach that conclusion and then write the introduction. So that’s the overall framework that we’re working to. But the second point is that no tactic sits in isolation. There’s a series of tactics a buyer is going to be exposed to between ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ and so I need to really map out all of the tactics and how they interconnect. So, now my piece of content that I am writing a conclusion for has some context. Certainly it’s got Buyer’s Journey stage context – I’m writing or sharing this piece of content to get you from somewhere to somewhere. But it’s also got tactical content: what have you already seen or read or heard beforehand? And what are you going to see or read or hear after this? So, then my conclusion can very specifically move the buyer from a tactical and a stage perspective to a new tactic and a new stage in the Buyer’s Journey. I’m really clear about where I’m trying to get you to at the end of this. That’s the overall context so I need the whole Buyer’s Journey mapped out. But I also do need the interconnection. I need to know tactically what’s going on before and what’s going on afterwards. So in the piece of content I’m not just concluding a stage but I’m actually making a call-to-action to a specific tactic. Again three points we just made there: Firstly, because it’s all about the close write the conclusion first then your arguments, then your intro. That was the first point. Second point, the tactics play an interconnected part and no piece of content sits in isolation so we need to work out what the whole journey looks like and all the tactics so this one piece of content, this one tactic has context. Thirdly, what tactics have proceeded it, what tactics are going to follow it so I can really lead quite deftly from somewhere to somewhere when I write the content.

Before I make a pitch for subscribing to the blog, let me just say more than any other blog that you’ve listened to previously, this is the one that you want to stick around to the end for because when we show you how we do this in Funnel Plan – it’s not because we’re trying to promote Funnel Plan but because you really need to see the context and tactics and the interconnection between them. So more than ever I’m going to really encourage you to stick around to the end of this blog. Let me though now make my now characteristic plea.

If any of this content made sense then obviously you’re going to want to see more content like this. You can subscribe personally when you go to align.me/blog and you can chose either the twice a week or once a month version of the blog. You can also subscribe on YouTube. If you already are but you’ve got a colleague who hasn’t, please forward this onto your colleague and invite them to join in whatever it is that you’re enjoying from this blog.

Basically we need to have a one page plan that describes really clearly our objectives, our strategy, our tactics and velocity that we’re going to achieve. That’s the overall reason for a Funnel Plan and we need it to be on one page so we can understand it. But the point I want to make today is around the tactics and their connection. At the top of this blog I argued that we need to reach a close. In the middle of the blog I argued the close has some context in that we’re trying to get buyers from a particular stage to another stage in their journey. I further argued that the tactics and how they interconnect was key. So when looking at the Funnel Plan, let’s single out just one of the tactics. I’m going to use an example of a whitepaper. Right now I’m joining you on a blog but let’s pick on a whitepaper – a more traditional tactic. In this context the purpose of that whitepaper is already spelled out. I know what stage I’m trying to get buyers from and what stage am I trying to get buyers to with this tactic. More, I know what tactics are going to lead to this tactic so in my intro I can specifically refer to where they’ve come from or if I don’t do it specifically at least I can know it so I’m writing relevant to that – there’s the ‘from’ aspect, the ‘to’ is just the same. I know which tactics are going to come next and I know which stage is coming next and so my conclusion can compel to that next stage. I can even be specific and call-to-action. But I also know the velocity. I know all of the tactics used at this stage between them need to get a certain number of buyers from somewhere to somewhere else. I know how long I’ve got, I know what my failure rate needs to be kept down to with those tactics and so I can create my content in this case the whitepaper to achieve that specific job.

You might actually look at this blog and say “Hugh what conclusion and what action are you trying to reach with this blog?” Candidly, I want you to be a little troubled about the fact that too often you build tactics that don’t have a clear purpose for which there isn’t a compelling conclusion because its context is not known. Frankly, you need to stack all of your tactics up – Marketing and Sales tactics and nurture tactics for those that Sales skip back to Marketing to nurture because they’re not ready. I want you to have a context for all of those tactics and that’s the purpose of the Funnel Plan. It’s there to give you a context for all of those tactics that everybody agrees to the strategy, velocity and the tactics.

How do you get a Funnel Plan? Through your Funnel Coach, whoever it is that forwarded this to you is your Funnel Coach. Have a chat to them about how they can help you build a clear plan using the Funnel Plan.

So there you go, I’ve never made a blatant pitch on a blog before but for once I really felt compelled to because the argument around reaching a conclusion with your content has such a context that’s so linked to the very purpose of Funnel Plan that I think everybody should have a Funnel Plan. Find a way to get one. Until then, may your funnel be full and always flowing.

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