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3 Steps for Promoting Fifty Shades of Grey

November 5, 2013 | Justin Gray | 1 Comment |

“Two chapters into this book and I’m hooked…”

“I just can’t stop reading this book…”

“OMG, this book is soooo scandalous…”

…and the list goes on and on.  Do you remember when you first heard about Fifty Shades of Grey? Well, I do. And it certainly wasn’t from an email inviting me to download it, a banner ad with a BUY NOW link, an ad in a magazine, or even a commercial on TV. It was from my wife. And after that, it was from friends and colleagues, and then I saw it being endlessly discussed on Facebook and in the office. Before too long, the book was a bestseller and it started to become harder to find copies for purchase.

This is how we promote. We discover things in our lives (content, if you will) that we want to share and, well, we talk about it, we tweet about it, we text about it, we email about it, we share it. And our friends share it with their friends, and their friends with theirs – and the promotion goes on and on. Is it much different than talking about a good webinar, sharing a whitepaper that we think might be interesting to a colleague or suggesting a product or service that might help someone solve a business challenge? The answer should be “no,” but I would venture to say many marketers don’t think about their content in this way.

At LeadMD, we talk about the premise of conversational marketing. The idea is that if you can start and have a conversation about your product or service with someone who may be likely to buy it, the rate of conversion is higher. That discussion, more often than not, starts with content. Something we post on our website, something we tweet about, discuss on LinkedIn, or something we pass out at a tradeshow. But are you making it easy for the conversation to continue? Are you feeding the conversation with more information? I have a couple of “rules” that I practice when I promote a piece of content; some of the key steps I take to make the most of the discussion and ensure my audience has the ability to carry on the conversation.


Shake Their Hand

Think about a face-to-face meeting with all 10,000 of the leads you have in your database, not as a group, but one on one. What is likely one of the first things you do? You shake their hands, right? You ask them about themselves and you tell them a little about you. And you don’t dump a trove of information on them, nor do you ask them a slew of questions about themselves or their business. You gather some information – you make an introduction. Translate that into an introduction email and a landing page with a form. Does the email you are sending look like one of your Web pages? If it does, pare it down.

Focus them on the thing you want them to do the most – which is to click through to your landing page. Once you get them to your landing page, open the gates a bit.  Share the content’s value proposition with them, but again, focus their attention on the thing you want them to do the most – which is to fill out the form. And what about the form? Are you asking for too much information? Again, pare it down and count on having them back again, so just ask how you can stay in touch. It may be an email address, a phone number, or – in more rare cases these days – a physical address. But don’t ask them for every way to contact them, rather the best way. The way they would prefer.

Think about Fifty Shades of Grey. When you told your friends, you knew which ones you could tell through Facebook, which ones it would be best to call, and which ones you might only be able to tell face to face. You knew that because, over the time you’ve known them, you’ve learned their behavior so now you’re able to apply what you’ve learned into how you communicate with them. Learn the same information from your audience – nurture them – ask them or use something like marketing automation to record and score on behaviors. Then use that information to communicate with them.

Talk with Them, Not at Them

All of this leads me to another rule. When you’re crafting your message, make sure you’re talking with your audience. Nothing ruins a conversation more than when you are talking with a know-it-all. If you know about them, make the message about them. You wouldn’t talk to your 80-year-old grandmother about the sweet new BMX bike she should buy for herself, so why would you try to sell something to someone if they don’t have the budget or need for it?

Or perhaps it’s about timing. Maybe this prospect could use your product, but not at this particular time. Or maybe that person simply doesn’t have the authority to buy your product. They may not be in order, but didn’t we just talk through BANT qualification? Are you asking those questions during the conversation? Are you sharing valuable content that earns you the right to ask those questions? If you are having a conversation by talking at someone, chances are you’re not earning that right.

Make Sharing Easy

In this day and age, if you are not making it easy for someone to share your content (see the big sharing buttons above?), or even your conversation, you are totally blowing it! Long gone are the days of relying on a face-to-face for discussion. Discussion is happening on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and through that ‘Forward to a Friend’ link in your email. If you’ve taken the time to create some killer content, don’t skimp on the delivery of it. Be sure the sharing options are highly visible and easy to execute. While your content may not garner a Fifty Shades of Grey level of sharing, it won’t enjoy much of any sharing if the options aren’t there.

While the above list is certainly not exhaustive, it is definitely a start, which is most important when you’re making new acquaintances. After all, what is it they say about first impressions? Fifty Shades of Grey sold like wildfire because it elicited emotion from its readers. So much emotion that the author didn’t need to think about how people would share it – it just happened. Your content might not ever end up on the bestselling list, but if you approach content marketing from a Fifty Shades of Grey point-of-view, you might find a level of success you never knew was achievable.

1 Comment

  1. Whitney Kobey on November 5, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    John – thank you for bringing a real-world example into the context of digital marketing. Your article expresses perfectly why companies should not just invest in creating content, but invest in creating content that is buzz worthy, sharable and within a context that the recipient appreciates. The HOW you deliver that content is just as relevant as the WHAT you deliver. Thanks for another great post! Looking forward to reading the next one. – W

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