If you read the book, you know that, in a big way, Vito Corleone built his empire by helping others in a way that no one else could.
He didn’t ask for anything in return—at least not right away—except maybe friendship and loyalty. The people seeking his help were more than willing to give that.
You can start your content marketing strategy by taking lesson from the Godfather.
Help your prospect out in a big way, and, in return, ask for something they can always take back if they want to (ehem, email address).
Say you sold jeans and you wanted to build an email list. What’s something you could give your prospects?
How about an immediate discount?
Lee.com got my email address and my business by offering me 15% off.
Let’s look at more examples from the Godfather to see how to use content marketing to help your prospects, and, over time, get their business.
What helping and giving looks like
In the movie, Nazorine asks the Godfather to keep a baker named Enzo from being deported.
The Godfather uses his political connections to make sure Enzo stays in the country.
Obviously, this is a service no one else can offer.
You have to strive to do the same with your content. You should offer help in a way that no one else can, or in a way that no one else does.
You might offer a PDF or eBook that promises an immediate benefit to your prospect. In exchange, you ask for their email address.
Here’s an example from ConversionXL.com:
The more unique and useful your offer, the more likely they’ll want to give you their email address.
Wistia starts the customer relationship right by offering a sweet free plan.
After you get their email address, you send them nothing but helpful, entertaining content.
Over time, your constant help will make your prospects feel like they know, like, and trust you. Once you get them to feel this way, your prospects will actually want to give you their business.
By the way, later in the movie, to show his gratitude, Enzo stands guard with Michael outside the hospital to ward off men coming to kill the Godfather (“for your father, for your father!”).
On the Internet you have to give, give, give
In his book, Influence (“Over a million copies sold!”), Robert Cialdini talks about the rule of reciprocation.
The rule says that if someone gives you something, you’re going to want to give them something back.
“By virtue of the reciprocity rule, then, we are obligated to the future repayment of favors, gifts, invitations, and the like.”
So when you give Bob from work a bottle of his favorite wine for his birthday, chances are he’ll show up with a gift when your birthday comes around.
Giving is an intimate process.
This is why business people take the people they want to do business with out to dinner.
It’s why the Don invited people into his home office and offered his services.
Unfortunately, there’s way less intimacy in the land of male enhancement pills and obnoxious cat videos, so the reciprocity rule doesn’t quite work in the same way.
Internet giving is not as intimate as face-to-face giving.
In the content marketing world, you have to give, give, and give some more before you get anything back.
It’s unlikely you’re going to get a lot of customers by offering a 10-page PDF.
Your prospects don’t know you. They don’t trust you. No trust = no sales.
You build trust over time with every piece of helpful content.
HubSpot sent me this email with links to high-quality articles on email marketing (a topic I’m interested in).
Ask for something in return
In the movie, the Godfather delivers “justice” against two boys who brutalized the daughter of an undertaker.
Later in the movie, after Sonny gets murdered, the Godfather asks the undertaker to return the favor by making Sonny’s body presentable for his casket.
Content marketing is about giving. But the whole point of giving is so that you can eventually get something back.
For you, that means new clients and more business.
Once you’ve delivered enough value and built up enough trust with your prospect, it’s time to ask them to buy something.
You do this with a call to action in an email (usually a link) that sends them to your sales page.
Your sales page will have its own call to action that tells them to buy your product or service.
What do you give?
I want to know what you’re giving to get leads, and boost your sales. Share your offers below.
If you’re new to content marketing and you’re cooking up an offer for a landing page, go ahead and post your idea in the comments section.
Don’t be afraid to look ridiculous.
Besides, if you’re afraid to look ridiculous (“And a man in my position can’t afford to be made to look ridiculous!“), you’re in the wrong business.Follow me!