I was watching The Godfather for the twentieth time the other night, and it dawned on me that Vito Corleone would have made a great content marketer.
He positioned himself as someone who offered an extremely unique service. He delivered this service with a great deal of care, and understanding for the needs of his prospects.
Best of all, he provided this service without asking for much in return—at least not right away.
Take lesson from the Don. When prospects land on your site, you have to offer them something unique, something they really want, and you have to give it to them without asking for much in return (an email address at most).
For example, Optimizely let’s you immediately try their service (A/B testing). They ask for your email address, but they don’t force you to give it so it’s completely friction free.
One of the most important things you can do as a service provider is create an offer so compelling, your prospects “can’t refuse” (yeah I said it).
How to build a great offer
In the movie, the Godfather uses his political connections to keep a baker named Enzo from getting deported. Talk about a unique service.
When you brainstorm what you can give your prospect, strive for something unique, something your competition doesn’t offer, or, better yet, can’t offer.
ConversionXL.com’s free offer promises to “Increase Your Conversion Rate.”
Notice how the “Right Now” in the headline communicates that you’ll be able to immediately use the techniques in their “free report” to increase your conversion rates.
You could also offer a sweet free trial like Wistia. A great way to build an email list is by asking for the email in exchange for the offer.
The more unique and useful your offer, the better your chances of getting their email address.
After you get their email address, send them helpful (and 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 (“If there is trouble, I’ll stay here to help you. For your father, for your father.“).
Giving on the internet is different than in real life
In his book, Influence (“Over a million copies sold!”), Robert Cialdini talks about the rule of reciprocation.
“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.
It’s 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 to hear their requests.
Unfortunately, the Web isn’t exactly an intimate medium, so the reciprocity rule doesn’t quite work in the same way.
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).
Over time, Hubspot proved to me that they’re Web marketing experts. I have a good sense that if I pay for one of their services, I won’t be disappointed.
That’s the kind of feeling you want to evoke in your prospects.
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.
The whole point of giving value and building trust is to put you in a position 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 (or wherever you want it to send them).
Your sales page will have its own call to action that tells them to buy your product or service.
What kind of offers do you make?
What are you 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 because 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!