John Bonini is a leader in growth and user acquisition. He works at Litmus. He’s also an award-winning writer, and his podcast, Louder Than Words, was named by Inc. as one of the “12 marketing podcasts you should listen to every week.”

This is How You Create Content that Sells Better than 95% of Brands [Chart]

This is How You Create Content that Sells Better than 95% of Brands [Chart]

Got a minute?

Great.

I’d love to tell you about some of the problems keeping me up at night.

Oh…no wait! Hold on, hold on. Let me rephrase that; (sigh) I’d love to tell you the nature of the some of the problems I have; they’re very specific. (As are most problems.)

Last night, for instance, I spent an embarrassingly long time researching backpacks online.        
I carry lots of things around, and frankly, have grown tired of shoulder tendonitis and the whole messenger bag thing.

(And at 31, I feel I’ve passed the threshold of risk where it’s now safe to wear a backpack without seeming adolescent. And anyways, I need a spot for my Ninja Turtles.) 

So anyways, I’m researching. For hours. About backpacks. It started innocently enough; by Googling best backpacks for work and laptop.

But a funny thing happens when you’re at something for this long; your inquiries get super specific. 

Fast forward 30 minutes into my research….

(Pfft. You mean the inner laptop sleeve isn’t polypropylene? Forget it.) 

So naturally, I start searching for bags that are made exclusively of polypropylene. (It should be noted that this only became a concern of mine after reading an article on the functions of polypropylene for day pack users.)

The more serious I got about buying, the more specific my questions were. And come to find out, the bottom of the sales funnel is a pretty lonely place. 

When I began my late-night escapade through the world of backpacks, the content begging for my attention was endless. 

But as I progressed through my sales process, things got quiet.

The Scale of Specificity 

Disclaimer: I like to draw things out in my Moleskin journal. Like, a lot. So bear with me.

The more specific your blog articles and content are, the better chance you have of a sale.

That’s it. That’s my glaringly-obvious thesis in a nutshell. 

It sounds ridiculously simple, but like I said earlier, the majority of content you find on the web will not follow along with you on your buyer’s journey.

Have a look: 

The Scale of Specificity 

The Scale of Specificity 

Here’s how it works: The top of the funnel represents the surface of any given subject. This usually represents the very early stages of your research. 

Things like: “Best backpacks for my laptop and work.” 

Any time your search query is that general, you’re going to be solicited with more content than substance. Sure, it’s still very important to create content at this stage of the funnel, but as our research as consumers becomes more specific, very few brands follow suit with their content strategy.

This is where you greatest opportunity to sell is. 

Let’s zoom in a bit at the top of the funnel to explore further. 

The Scale of Specificity

The Scale of Specificity

Here’s where the majority of branded content lives. It may seem like I’m generalizing, but when you consider how many companies are producing content versus the same usual suspects providing enormous value further down the sales funnel, it becomes clear that I’m not. 

Anyways, as I said, this is where most of your competitors live in regards to their content. 

For the sake of providing examples, let’s stick with backpacks. My search query late on this particular Sunday evening was "backpacks for professionals".

The following were the top results on the first page of Google:

  • The Best Business Backpacks Reviewed
  • Top 10 Professional Backpacks
  • The 12 Best Laptop Bags for Mobile Professionals 
  • Best Laptop Backpacks & Bags Reviews 2014
  • Business Backpacks Best of the Best

Which one would you click? If I polled 100 people, the results would probably show an even skew. There are no winners here.

The top of the Scale of Specificity is crowded with a line out the door to get in. And there’s a mean bouncer. And a guest list. And chances are, you may not be on it.

Sounds bleak, but there is good news here. Very good news. 

The Very Good News

The Very Good News

In most cases, content this broad in scope like the titles above isn’t what sells. It’s the hyper-specific, "answer all of my questions” content that does.

Wanna know what led to my decision in selecting a backpack? A 30-minute YouTube clip reviewing The North Face Surge II Transit pack. (A pack criminally omitted from any of the list posts found on page one of my Google search.)

How did I find it, you ask? With hyper-specific queries like “polypropylene professional backpacks” and “backpack to store my journals and laptop.” 

Sure, I learned some basics from our “page one” articles. But I only came to my decision after consuming content super-specific to my needs.

What does it all mean for you?

Do you know your audience well enough to confidently shift your focus away from the top of the scale to the bottom? 

Do you have the courage to do that?

Because that’s where the real persuasion to buy is taking place: in identifying and answering the very real and very specific problems that people are having.

Start by writing a list of them down. You already know them.

They’re the questions most often heard by your salespeople and customer service folks. Record every single question that relates to one specific problem. 

Then start answering them. One at a time.

Lastly, on a separate sheet of paper, write “what am I so scared of?” Because it’s much easier to hang out at the top of the scale, but it takes accuracy, and faith in your strategy, to shift your focus to the bottom. 

So, do you have the courage?

The 1 Common Trick Emails With Ridiculously-High Open Rates Use

The 1 Common Trick Emails With Ridiculously-High Open Rates Use

Copywriting in the Wild: New York City Edition

Copywriting in the Wild: New York City Edition