In this series, we’re looking at the types of content most effectively used at various stages in the sales cycle. Our first two posts discussed entertaining content – designed to capture a new audience’s interest in a product. Today, we’ll look at a type of emotional content geared toward people who are further along in the sales process: inspirational content.
Inspirational content helps consumers imagine how a product or service will enhance their life by seeing it through the eyes of others. Inspiration can be the difference between a product that produces solid (but not remarkable) sales and one that becomes a “must-have”.
Let’s review several types of inspirational content, starting first with the least personal types.
Ratings & Reviews
Technically two distinct types of content, ratings and reviews, are a (generally) more anonymous modern extension of neighbor-to-neighbor recommendations. Amazon’s ratings and reviews are well known, though almost any brand – especially those with a significant consumer product presence – can leverage ratings and reviews.
Whether or not a brand has their own full ecommerce presence, ratings and reviews can:
- provide customers with a way to champion products or provide constructive feedback
- allow shoppers to compare product options through others’ experiences
- lend credibility to your product claims
- provide information that helps a consumer gauge a product’s suitability to their needs
- help shoppers to choose an appropriate tier or specific product from a company’s product line
- provide valuable feedback to influence future product features, promotions, and documentation
A variety of rating and review plugins are available for popular content management systems such as WordPress as well as ecommerce solutions like Magento.
A couple of additional insights into ratings and reviews:
- The public can smell censored ratings from a long distance. Even the best of products will have the occasional harsh critic, and we’ve all come to understand that. So censor for inappropriate language, but don’t remove a review or rating simply because it wasn’t flattering to your product or company. Assuming that you have a quality product in the first place, those occasional poor reviews will lend credibility to the rest of the reviews that you could never build on your own.
- Reviews don’t magically appear just because the review feature is added to a website. Like the product itself, some marketing and awareness efforts will likely be needed in order to start building those reviews. Send follow-up emails after orders have been placed. If your product is outstanding, you want lots of reviews!
Community Forums & Events
In a world of email, text message, and Skype, nothing can compare to time spent making in-person connections. By assembling knowledge and talent in a community forum or other event, and opening it up to your audience, you can provide opportunities for prospects to learn from customers, and from customers to learn from one another.
These types of in-person events are best suited for products and services that are complex and/or highly technical and for brands whose users are passionate about the product category and have a strong brand affinity.
Testimonials & Endorsements
Where ratings and reviews provide opinions on a composite scale, testimonials share a specific user’s success with and recommendation for a product. When you and I see testimonials, our brains internalize them, and we imagine ourselves enjoying those product benefits in our lives.
In order to help people connect to the testimonials, they use a real (but ordinary) person chosen carefully to represent an entire audience segment: the “typical hunter” or the “typical farmer”, for example.
Endorsements are similar to testimonials, but from experts, professional organizations, and/or celebrities. While some endorsements include a specific testimonial about how they use a product, the endorsement may involve little more than putting the celebrity’s name behind a product. While these high-profile celebrity endorsements can be valuable, the ideal endorsement is from someone who is actively involved in both the use and endorsement of your product. Consumers want to see that these endorsements are genuine.
Testimonials and endorsements work across many types of media. Video, print, and social media tools are particularly strong ways to connect known and trusted celebrities and organizations to your brand.
Two types of inspirational quotes come to mind for use in content marketing programs. Meaty celebrity or expert quotes that relate to a product or brand in general (whether or not they come with an official product endorsement) can be incorporated into articles, blog posts, or press releases. Shorter quotes are ideal for social media, where they can be incorporated into memes or placed directly in a post or tweet.
And when it comes to inspirational quotes, there’s nothing better than a good historical quote that can be tied either directly to a product or to a brand persona. Outdoor brands like those we work with can do a lot with a quote like “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing”, from Teddy Roosevelt. Whether incorporated into a shareable meme or used as the foundation of a blog post, quotes like this help brand marketers convey the brand’s identity at the same time they help their target audience make a deep connection.
Your company has done its homework and made great hires. Your leadership team knows the industry and what makes it tick. You can leverage this knowledge by producing content that predicts the future of your industry or product category. This strategy is particularly well suited in new industries and those that are on the verge of change.
Have you future-proofed your products based on these predictions? If so, be sure to point that out. Your content will not only make a compelling read, but also make a compelling case for why it should be considered for purchase. It also positions your company’s team as thought leaders.
In this post, we’ve talked about how you can move prospects toward a sale using eight types of inspirational content. In the next installment in the series, we’ll step back to building product awareness through educational content.
At Callis, we see content marketing as one of today’s most important marketing tools, and we predict continued growth for the foreseeable future. If you’d like to discuss the impact that content marketing could have on your business, reach out to us via email or phone. We’d love to help you build a successful content marketing program!