Welcome to 2017!

I’m not totally back into my working momentum yet, so I’ll admit I’ve picked a topic that I think will be easy.  No less valuable, mind you — in fact, I think you’re going to be blown away by how valuable this simple list is.

Let me explain…

I have an entire process mapped out for how to create a lead- and customer-generating system, around a core piece of content (usually, a book).  This is a complete soup-to-nuts breakdown of EVERYTHING it takes to create an education-based customer generation system.

And in my notes (sitting here on my desk), I have a breakdown of how to structure the content of a book that both delivers value and sells prospects on doing business with you.

Now, the main content of that book is structured to accomplish the same goals as a good sales letter.  Clarify the problem.  Agitate the pain associated with letting the problem go unsolved.  Invalidate other solutions.  Present the criteria for a successful solution.  Offer the solution itself.  (My outline goes into even greater detail, but that’s the basics.)

And that by itself would be quite an effective selling tool — and, done right, would also make the reader feel like they got a lot of value just from reading the book.

In addition to that main content though, I have another list I creatively titled, “other content.”  This is my notes on a handful of additional, supplemental content you can include in the book in order to maximize its value to the reader.  Both perceived value, to encourage them to get it and dive in.  And actual value, meaning what they get out of reading it.

I’ll admit, there’s NOTHING in this list that is new.  Like most of my good ideas, I stole the individual content types from others who’ve proven over and over again that they work to get readership.  I simply compiled them into this list for my own personal use.

But as I was looking for a good topic for today, I looked at the list and realized just how valuable it could be…  Not just because you might want to write a book and this would make good supplemental content…  But also because these types of content are universal, and will encourage high engagement no matter where you use each!

So, what are we waiting for?  Let’s dive in to the 6 types of content that almost always get readership

  1. [#] Common Traps/Pitfalls/Mistakes in [X]

People love lists of mistakes.  Make the mistakes all related to your market, problem solved, or product category, and you’ll attract a lot of potential buyers.

We humans have an endless fascination with the morbid.  While extreme examples of this include horror movies and demonic imagery in religion, there’s a much gentler way to tap this innate attraction.  Tell people what their peers are doing wrong.

Like any time you’re tapping into darker emotions, you have to walk a line.  You have to be careful not to make your prospect feel like total crud if they are the one making the mistakes.  As in, you probably want to call them “common mistakes,” not “dumb mistakes.”  But at the same time, you want to rub just a little salt in the wound, to remind them of the pain the mistake causes, and really stimulate the desire to correct it.

And, like any time you’re showing someone the dark, you need to give them a path back to the light.  You should always offer the correction to any mistake, the way to avoid any trap.  It doesn’t have to be on a 1:1 basis, but if all the mistakes point to your product as the solution, be sure to make that point clear.

  1. [#] Best Practices for [X]…

If the mistakes list was the dark side steering people away from what they don’t want, listing best practices is a way to point people toward what they do.

It has the same attractive quality of the negative list, but for those who can’t stand the negative (or want to pair positive with negative — an even better strategy), you can list the right way to do things.

For each “best practice” or similarly positive descriptor, make sure you explain both what to do and WHY, the WHY being the most important bit.

Take this essay that you’re reading now: If I just made a list of content types here, it would be useful, but rather bland.  By giving you my unique take on why each content type works, you get more value and the list itself is more useful.

  1. Tools/Guides/Checklists…

In many markets, especially those with a ton of skilled marketers working them (health and wealth being two great examples), people are overwhelmed with information.

We’re still addicted to information, yes.  But there’s a level of information overload that increases the readers’ filtering — and decreases the chance that anything short of exceptional content will get consumed.

If you want to beat information overwhelm, make something usable.  That is, if you give someone tools, guides, checklists, templates, or anything similar, it’s immediately seen as more valuable than information given.

Spreadsheet “calculators” are a great example, that can be used in all sorts of areas.  A quiz that tells you something useful at the end is a popular choice.  Outlines and checklists are great resources any time there’s a process to follow to get results.

If you’re able to turn an idea or what otherwise might be an essay into a usable tool, that makes a very attractive piece of content.

  1. The Real Secret Behind [X]…

Not only do we humans have a fascination with the morbid, we also love the forbidden and secret.  And we assume that nearly every field of inquiry, industry, or subject has secrets that only the innermost insiders know.

If there are indeed lesser-known secrets in your industry, or to solving the problem your offer addresses, these are great topics for your content.  This also works if something about your offer is a discovery that flies in the face of common wisdom on the topic.

Or, my favorite spin on this topic is that “the secret is that there’s no secret.”  Whenever common wisdom is mostly right on a topic, or the truth is so fundamental that it goes ignored, you can make that the secret.

For example, in weight loss, the vast majority of people simply need to eat less calories than they burn in a day.  In internet marketing, Ken McCarthy nailed the simple “secret” that Traffic + Conversions = Profit.  The biggest secret in investing is to save as much as possible, don’t lose it, and hopefully get your money making money.

Whatever you use, positioning it as a secret is sure to pique curiosity — one of the most important elements to getting readership.

  1. #1 Trick/Tip to Get [X] Result…

Have you ever seen those “One weird trick” ads?  For a long time, I felt like they were just about the only kind of ad on the internet — and they were everywhere, in just about every product category.

While the “weird” part of those ads stimulated curiosity, there was also another (often overlooked) appeal to those ads.  Namely, that people want ONE WAY to get the result they most desire.

Most of us are pretty lazy about a lot of things in our lives.  We’d prefer to do the minimum amount of work for the maximum reward.  (Any wonder why Gary Halbert’s book was titled How To Make Maximum Money In Minimum Time?)  We don’t want to have to do much to get what we want.

If I were to say, “7 ways to retire by 55,” that sounds really attractive (at least to anyone about 50 or younger).

However, if I were to test that against, “The #1 trick to retire by 55,” I can bet that my #1 trick is going to win.

Because people don’t want to have to do all 7 things.  Heck, they don’t even want to have to choose between the 7 things.  We humans want it to be easy.  So if you can give us the #1 thing we have to do, that’s a really attractive idea!

  1. “Find Yourself Here” Case Studies…

For the last content type, I’ll turn to something I first saw Dan Kennedy present in 2009, at the AWAI Bootcamp.  Dan was showing off the many pieces of a direct mail package he’d just rolled out, and it included this.  It was a booklet of all the different types of people who made perfect customers for that product, with a description of why they were a fit and how they uniquely benefited.  Dan said this was one of his shortcut pieces of copy that he often uses — both because it works, and because it helps him churn out winning copy faster.

Research has proven that people respond to “social proof” such as testimonials and positive product reviews.  This takes it one further, and emphasizes people just like the prospect.

For example, let’s say you’re selling a “professional practice marketing system.”  Now, I can come up with a short list of all the different types of “professional practices” that would likely benefit from very similar marketing strategies.  Everything from pediatricians to psychologists, chiropractors to lawyers, and well beyond this.

If I go generic and am marketing to all professional practices, I might want to do “find yourself here” case studies on the 10 (or more) top types of professional practices, and the unique fit and benefit to each.

But the more personalized it feels, the better.  So, I might narrow my niche to just one field.  Pediatricians, for example.  And I could find use cases for a number of different situations a pediatrician might find themselves in.  For example, those just starting a pediatrics practice and looking for a patient base, pediatricians with a mostly full patient load who want to keep them coming back, multi-doctor pediatrics practices, and probably at least 3 or 4 more.  Then, I’d create a supplemental piece of content that showed how each of these could use my product differently.

The idea is that the more you can get prospects thinking, “that person is JUST LIKE ME, and they had success with this,” the more likely you are to get response.

(For this particular example, I’d then adapt the product into niche after niche, with similar “find yourself here” case studies for all the different types of practitioner in the niche.)

Now, it’s your turn…

Don’t just finish this article and think, “oh that was nice,” and go on with your day.  Find places where these content types are a fit, and use them!

They can be implemented into the body of a sales letter, or written into a VSL.  They can certainly be part of a website — either in the form of blog posts/articles, or in site sections or features.  You can include them as chapters or appendixes in a book.  You could create a “consumer’s guide” a la Joe Polish (a big inspiration for this list), and work many of these into it.

Find ways to use them.  Then, promote them as a reason to consume your message.

I’m giving them to you because they work — now you get to go out there and use them to create breakthroughs!

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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