What can I blog about that gets leads and sales… without looking like a sleazy salesperson?
That is the magic question every business blogger must answer.
There is no magic bullet answer, but there are valid approaches that work well for many. I’d like to share one with you I call using “trigger events” to get blog post ideas that will make your prospects feel like you’re inside their heads.
What is a Trigger Event?
A trigger event is that moment where something happens that causes you to want to look for an answer, look for help. Let’s say you’re an online business owner and you’re trying to get yourself established. You need a website and you want a blog, but you also want to save money. So you muddle through doing most of the setup yourself, but then you hit a wall. You need some kind of header graphic for your blog and you just don’t have the skills or the eye for that. You realize you need help.What you’re really looking for are moments that create a sense of opportunity or doubt. Because people act on those feelings: they want to take advantage of opportunity and they want to dispel doubt.
That’s a trigger event. You’re going to go to Google or ask your personal network of friends & peers. You’re going to notice certain links in your social media streams that only yesterday would not even have registered for you. If someone had written a post how to create blog header graphics, chances are you’ll either learn how for find someone who knows what they’re doing and hire them.
Trigger events happen all throughout the long “story” of your prospect’s involvement in whatever your field is. People start at the beginning and progress to their end goals, and along the way they all run into nearly the same problems and have the same doubts and concerns. If you’ve already been there, you’re in a position to help them because of your experience and knowledge. You can think back on your own story and find your own trigger events. Chances are that others will have the same trigger events.
Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re learning the guitar and you just can’t practice anymore because your fingers are bleeding. You may wonder if there’s a way you can keep practicing. You may wonder if you’re irreparably harming yourself. You may wonder if there’s a best way to treat it. This is a trigger event and these are all topics that a musician blogger who sells online courses would do well to blog about.
This is not Empathy
What you’re doing here is essentially perspective-taking. Dan Pink, in his new book To Sell is Human, (affiliate link) talks about perspective-taking as being different than empathy. Empathy is when you feel what another person feels even though you’re not experiencing the same situation. It’s emotional.
Perspective-taking is when you imagine yourself in their place and try to see things as they see them. You try to think from their point of view. You are “able to consider the points of view, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, prior knowledge and intentions of others” (from Social Thinking on Wikipedia).
Try to take the perspective of someone who’s politics are the opposite of yours: can you envision a discussion as that person without falling into stereotypes or caricature? Luckily, perspective-taking for your prospects is much easier, because chances are you’ve already been down the same road they’re on. Which means you’re also operating from memory. You can think back to your own trigger events and realize they probably happen for everyone walking that same path.
HOW TO TURN TRIGGER EVENTs INTO BLOG POST IDEAS
- Draw out a timeline on a piece of paper or a whiteboard if you have one. Mark the beginning and the end. The end is whatever dream goal your prospects see for themselves.
- Mark at intervals the points in the story where something happens that creates opportunity or doubt write down that event. If you have trouble with this, think back on your own life or call up a customer and ask her to recount what she went through when she first got started.
- List the opportunities or doubts you can envision for each trigger event.
- Brainstorm blog post topics encouraging them to take advantage of the opportunities and giving them ways to banish doubt. You should, of course, have services or products related to this, as well.
Back up a Minute
None of this is going to work unless you are very clear about who it is you’re helping, and what problems or situations you help with. It all goes back to my 3 P’s: People, Problem, and Product (which I write about extensively in my free ebook, The Diamond Business Blogging Framework).
If you find you have a hard time with this exercise, it may be because you’re not specific enough about who it is you’re helping. And if you don’t have products or services related to these trigger events, that could be why you’re not selling much. Bring these elements into alignment with each other and watch leads and sales pick up.
Seal the Deal
At the end of your blog post, you want a call to action to whatever service, product, or act of conversion that best relates. You don’t have to be all “blinking lights and yellow highlighter” about it. Just say, “If you want more help than I can give you in a blog post, consider X,” and you link to your product or service.
Why do I not have such a link in my own post? Because I’m still writing the book.
I guess I should say you can also use it to tease people mercilessly and pique interest in a forthcoming new product.