Have you visited a website and left shortly after reading an article?
Why did the site fail to get you to sign up? Or why didn't you buy a product or service? The answer lies in the content of your articles and the way you structure them.
Article writing is about creating a solid “next step”, so that clients follow one of three sequences.
What are those sequences?
Find out in this podcast about the “next step”.
In this episode Sean talks about
The 3 successful ways to creating a next step with your articles.
Using these steps you will sell more products or consulting or workshops or whatever it is that you want your customer to go ahead or go forward with.
Part 1: The importance of the ‘Editorial Next Step'
Part 2: The ‘Sales Next Step' and how it causes resistance
Part 3: The ‘Embedded Next Step' and how to use it.
Right click here and ‘save link as' to download this episode to your computer.
Useful Resources and Links
The Brain Audit: Why Customers Buy And Why They Don't
Episode 32: Sales Pages—The Problem With The First Few Paragraphs
5000bc: How to get helpful and specific feedback for your complex marketing problems?
This is The Three Month Vacation, and I'm Sean D'Souza.
Christmas for me was the most fun time of the year when I was growing up, and that was because as a kid, there were always presents and gifts. Then as I grew up and entered my 20s, we used to go dancing. In Mumbai around Christmas time, we have this very unusual setting where whole football stadiums are allocated for Christmas dances and New Year dances.
Several months before Christmas rolls along, you have to the buy the tickets to the event, you have to book your table and then it's the night of December 25th, and you have to put on your best suit and your tie and get your partner and go to the dance. The music would start at about 9 o'clock at night and go until 6 in the morning when we'd stagger home after this night of revelry. It was at one such dance when I met my wife, Renuka.
Because we used to go in a group, I didn't really know the names of all the girls that were around and I suddenly didn't know Renuka's name. All I know that she was wearing a red dress and because of the red dress, I called her Santa all night. Well, that caused a problem because I didn't really ask her name and then the dance was over and she went her own way and I went my own way. I happened to have her sister's phone number so I did call up their place and I was about to ask for her when I couldn't remember the name. What do you do on the phone? Do you ask for Santa? I very quickly put the phone down and I let it go. There was no next step.
Having a next step is extremely important when you want to go ahead with anything in life. The same applies to article writing. When you're writing an article, you think, “Well, I'm creating all these credibility,” but that's not the end point. The end point is the next step. Where are we going to go from there. Today, we're going to explore 3 ways in which you can create a next step with your articles so that you can create even more credibility and then that finally ends up with either selling more products or consulting or workshops or whatever it is that you want to go ahead or go forward with.
In this episode, we'll look at the 3 methods. The first is the editorial next step, the second is the sales next step, and the third is the embedded next step. Let's start looking at the first one which is the editorial next step.
Part 1: Editorial Next Step
What is the editorial next step? In every article, your goal is to get the reader to experience a new world. The reason the reader gets to your article at all is because you're taking them on a journey, and this journey depends on what you're covering in the article. Now you may be showing the reader how to increase prices without losing customers. You may be showing them how to fix a roof on a garden shed. You may be asking them to watch a specific video. In every case, you're setting out to change or at least to nudge the customer into doing something. Now that is your goal right from the start or you wouldn't have written the article in the first place.
Let's say you've written the article and the most obvious thing that you want to do is you want to direct the reader to go forward to the next step. Now this step has no sales edge to it. There's nothing that you are selling, no products or services or workshops. You're just creating a deeper sense of credibility, and the way you do that is just to put a little link at the end of your article. It's the most obvious one but a lot of people don't do this, and that is either read more articles on pricing strategy or read the continuing series on how to create more durable roofs or watch this video and you'll see how the soil erosion is affecting our planet. The point is you are really not trying to sell anything. You were just moving them to the next step.
When you write your article, you have to ask yourself, “Do I have a next step? Are they doing something as a result of reading that article?” When we look at our own website or our own blogs, we'll have an article and then we won't have a next step. When we look at us posting our articles on someone else's blog, what we'll have is some kind of footer information and that is not good enough for people to go to the next step. What you've got to do is create some kind of encouragement. What we found very effective is to have a kind of report.
When you look at a lot of the articles that we'll post on guest blogs, at the end of the article, before that footer information, we're going to have a little report and that creates a next step. That creates the enticement for the reader to continue into that same trip as it were. If the article is about pricing, then the report will be about something that the reader has not considered about pricing and that will be the enticement so that they come to your blog or your website and then sign up for that report and of course they get into your subscriber list.
On your own website as well, you want them to move along so either you give them a report, yes you can do this on your own website, or you can drive them to read about more articles on the same topic or similar topic and that gets them deeper into your website and deeper into your information.
You have to remember that a customer buys long before they pay, and when they're buying into your stuff, they're buying into you and your credibility and your ability to transform their lives. The more time they spend on your podcast, the more time they spend on reading that information; the more they are going to like you, the more they are going to trust you, and the more they are likely to buy from you in the future. When you write your article, the first thing is the editorial next step. What is that editorial next step? Is it going to be a report or is it going to be another series of articles? Whatever it is, you need to have that at the end of every article.
This takes us to the second type of next step which has nothing to do with editorial at all.
Part 2: Sales Next Step
This is called the sales next step. The sales next step is simply a call to action to buy something or to do something that is more likely to lead to sales. How would you know if the nudge is leading to sales or to editorial? You have to ask yourself this question, will the customer feel a bit of resistance when they go to that next step? If so, then you're actually selling. It's a sales next step. If the customer has to fill in a form or they have to opt in or they have to jump over some barriers, they have to sign up, pay for something, then it's a sales next step.
The editorial next step, it seems like friendly advice. It's like, “Hey, see this movie,” or “You should read this book,” or “Go read other articles,” or “Watch this YouTube video.” The sales next step is different and you know there will be at least some resistance when your reader reads your message or listens to your podcast or watches your webinar. It's more likely that your message will be sales. It will be sign up for this course, sign up for this workshop.
For instance, we have a sales letter for the article writing course. When you read the sales letter, it doesn't read like a sales letter. It actually reads like an article. It talks about how I struggle with my article writing, how I used to take two days to write an article, and how I wished I had a fairy godmother, and what the fairy godmother would do to make my life simpler when it came to article writing. Then at the end of it, there is the link to the article writing course. It seems like editorial and it yet leads to a sales pitch. In advertising, they call this the advertorial; seems like editorial, it is editorial, it helps you a lot, but at the end of it, there is some kind of decision that you have to make that involves resistance.
You want to put this in all of your articles at some level. You could have this as links in between your articles. Let's say I'm talking about the Brain Audit; I could hyperlink that as I was talking about it. Or right at the end, I get them to move to the next phase, that next step. That next step is very important. If a customer spent all their time reading your article, they want to know what to do next and if you just leave them hanging there, then it doesn't really work in their favor or your favor.
We've covered 2 ways that you have to move that agenda forward. The first one is the editorial step and the second one is the sales next step. This takes us to the third one which is the embedded next step.
Part 3: Embedded Next Step
The embedded next step is where you have the entire sales pitch within your editorial. Let's say I was talking about pricing and then within that whole pricing model, I talk about a membership site at 5000bc and how it was priced and then I go on to how to increase the prices and what was the effect of that on 5000bc. I bring up 5000bc half a dozen times but all the time, it's editorial; all the time, it's informing you; all the time, it's giving you examples about 5000bc.
What this is doing is embedding 5000bc in your brain and there's nothing subconscious about it. It's pretty straightforward. However, there's no doubt that at the end of it, you're going to be curious about what lies behind this doorway. What lies behind this membership at 5000bc. Even as you're listening to this, even as you're reading this, you will start to think, “Well, I wonder. I should go and explore what 5000bc is all about.” This is what an embedded next step is, where you're giving complete examples of something else. Maybe it's a product that you have or a service that you have, but you're breaking it down into editorial. You're giving where you succeeded, where you failed, what happened, what didn't happen, all the time that brand name, that product name is coming into the picture.
Yes, we're talking about articles here but I do this in presentations as well. A podcast is a presentation and if I were to give you a lot of examples from the Brain Audit about how customers buy and why they don't buy that eventually, you're going to be curious about the Brain Audit. Even as we're doing this podcast, you can see how this is working. You're thinking about 5000bc, you're thinking about the Brain Audit. It's part of the editorial and this is called the embedded next step.
Is the embedding sales pitch? It is. Some people may not see the sales pitch in it at all. It may appear to be 100% editorial and really, that's the beauty of the embedded next step. It has no next step involved. It's not asking you to buy anything. There is no link inside anywhere. There's nothing, but part of or the entire article revolves around their product or service. It creates the curiosity and so you take that next step. Should you put a link at the end of it? If you do, it looks like you are pushing me towards that all the time. I avoid it, but it's up to you to decide what you want to do. My advice would be to create it as editorial only, giving all these examples, creating that embedded next step, and then the customer makes their own mind up and goes to the next step.
Lets summarize what we've covered today. The first thing is the editorial next step. The editorial next step is part of the article itself. Often, it's just after the summary. It's towards the end of the article. It's more than likely to be the last few sentences of the article where you're driving the customer to read more, to watch more, and to create greater credibility for you, for the future is an investment in the future.
Second type of next step is the sales next step. Now that has a clear demarcation. It sits away from the editorial and it's clearly a sales-based nudge and anyone looking at it should be able to tell that it's a next which is going to have some resistance involved. You either have to fill in an opt-in form or you have to have some barrier or you're going to have to pay for it in some way, and they should be clear.
Sometimes we can put links within the article that leads to a product or a service, but having it at the end is also a very good strategy and that is the sales next step. You'll see this at the end of all the Psychotactics articles. There is this nudge. This is how customers go and they buy products and services from us.
Finally, you have the embedded next step which is embedded in the article itself. If I were to talk about 5000bc right through the article and explain how it is built and how we went about stuff and how we were pricing it, eventually you get this feeling that you want to go to 5000bc. It's the same thing with any product or service when you break it down and you explain it as a case study. Now what you're doing is creating an embedded next step. People want to part of that experience, they want to know more, and the logical step is for them to go and find out more about it.
When do you use these next steps? You can have the editorial and the sales next step in every other article. However, the embedded next step you need to use with some amount of prudence. You use it every now and then and clients get to know your products and your services in great detail to get the inside view, but you don't want to use this a lot. The other ones, use it freely all the time, there's no problem. This takes us to the one action that we have to do.
One of the things that you can do right away is go and look at 3 of your articles, any 3 articles, and look if there is a next step. Is there an editorial next step, because there should be one. Even if you don't have anything to sell at this stage, you need to have an editorial next step. If you're writing an article about pricing, then lead them to other articles about pricing. If you're writing an article about article writing, lead them to other articles about article writing. That way, you're creating credibility. People are buying long before they pay. You will get your payment at some point in time but you need to create that credibility, you need to get the customer that crossed you today. Having that next step makes a big difference, which also takes us back to our Christmas …
I couldn't get in touch with Renuka after the Christmas dance because I really didn't know her name and I was too embarrassed to ask for Santa, and so I let it slide. Luckily, 3 months later, all the friends gathered around for a picnic and there she was yet again. This time, I made sure that I asked her name, got her phone number, and yes we worked out the next date and that's a long time ago and we've been pretty much together ever since. I say pretty much together because there is some story there as well, but that'll have to wait for another podcast. Right now, we have to go to our next step, don't we?
A good next step for you would be to send me an email about the questions that you have so that I can answer them on this podcast. I can create new information based on your questions. You can send it to me on Twitter on @seandsouza or on Facebook, again Sean D'Souza or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven't already done your good deed for the day, then go to iTunes and click on the subscribe button so that you can subscribe to this podcast and of course, you can also leave a review because hey, that's your good deed for the day.
I have been embedding 5000bc and the Brain Audit in this podcast. If you haven't already read the Brain Audit, you should. It will completely change the way you look at how clients think and why they do what they do and why they back away at the very last minute. You can find that at psychotactics.com/brainaudit. That's it for me, Sean D'Souza and Three Month Vacation. Bye for now.
Still listening? Often, you want to organize a next step but sometimes life takes over. Like for instance when we had the InfoProducts workshop in Washington, DC and there were 2 belly dancers in the group and they decided that everyone in the room would like to do some belly dancing. Off we went, half of group formed the instrumentation as it were and half of them did the belly dancing. There was no compulsion, but everyone took part in it, took about 15, 20 minutes and we all had a great time. There you go. You don't always have to have this organization. Sometimes you just go with the flow. That's your little snippet from the Psychotactics archive. Bye for now.
You can also listen to or read this episode: The Secret Ingredient To Writing
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