Have you ever heard the phrase “Features tell, but benefits sell?”
I know being told to sell the benefits of your program or service sometimes confuses and frustrates you. Sometimes it confuses me, too! Because the benefits of something aren’t always obvious. You may have to do a little digging to figure out why your client should even care about what you’re selling.
Of course you want to talk about all the great things inside your new program, training, or other offering. And it’s important for people to know exactly what you’re selling. So you say things like:
“6-week self-study course”
“Includes workbooks and live training.”
Those are definitely great features, but they aren’t going to lure in any buyers. Because they only tell your audience what the program is and what’s included. You haven’t told them why they need it. There’s nothing that tells them about the transformation they’ll experience or what things will look like for them after they’ve worked with you.
You don’t tell them how they’ll benefit from what you’re selling.
Benefits provide the “so what” of the features—and these are what really matter to your audience.
What’s so great about that 6-week self-study course you’re running? Why should your reader care or choose it over another?
- Because she’s busy and needs to work on her own schedule, not yours
- Because she’s already studied shorter, less comprehensive courses and needs more in-depth information
- Because she prefers to learn on her own, not in a group
Why should anyone care that your program comes with workbooks and live training? What are the benefits of having those?
- Your students can put what they learn into action right away with workbooks
- They can get their specific questions answered immediately during live training
- They can work through complex issues with the help of you and others in the group
Always Ask “So What?”
Benefits go much further than simply rattling off attributes like length and format. Benefits show your prospective client what’s in the program and why the product is perfect for them at this specific moment in their life and career.
Does that mean you shouldn’t share your service’s features? Of course not.
Features and benefits work together in sales copy as two halves of a statement. For example:
“My 6-week self-study course gives you the flexibility to learn at your own pace, when it’s convenient for you.”
This powerful feature/benefit combo is often the basis for the bullet points you see in sales copy, and their format makes them easy to write, too.
When you’re creating your next sales page, start by simply listing all the features of your product, then for each one, go back and ask yourself “So what?” Why should the reader care?
But don’t stop there. Dig even deeper to uncover the why behind the why. The more layers you can uncover, the closer you’ll get to your client’s real problem.
Why would it matter to someone that they can learn at their own pace when it’s convenient for them?
It could be that having that flexibility means they don’t have to worry about getting to the webinar on time. Rather than being forced to plan their schedule around a webinar or other live training, they can plan the webinar around their schedule. They can watch and learn at a time that works for them—whether it’s early in the morning when they’re most attentive, or later in the evening after the kids go to bed.
Now you’ve given your prospective client an opportunity to learn from you without sacrificing time with their family or other obligations. You’re not taking family time away, you’re giving them a way to have both. That’s a benefit other courses may not provide.
Make Them Feel Understood
Highlighting the benefits of your product or service will always attract more attention (and more leads) than simply talking about what your product is or how it works.
A sales page that makes the reader feel like you understand what they need and why it’s so important that they have it will always convert well.
It’s pretty easy to list all the features of your product or program; it’s much more difficult to uncover the benefits, but that’s what will drive sales.
Once you understand the difference between the two, you can spend time drilling down to how your product or service will benefit someone and transform their life. The promise of something better is what attracts customers.
Looking at your own sales pages, have you been promoting what your program is, or are you selling its benefits?
If you’ve recently launched a new business and a website to go with it, you’re probably itching to figure out ways to drive traffic to it. After all, a website isn’t much use to you or your business if no one ever visits it.
It’s true that the search engine algorithms that determine rankings are fluid. The way pages were ranked 10 years ago isn’t the way they’re ranked today. But there are still tried and true search engine optimization (SEO) methods that will help you move higher in the rankings despite the constant algorithm changes.
I realize the term SEO can sound intimidating, and I know learning how it works might seem complicated—especially if you’re new to online marketing. But I want you to know it’s worth learning how to improve your search engine rankings. When you do, the people looking for what you do or sell will find you first when they open up Google.
Things like page optimization on your website, keyword research, and building backlinks will drive more traffic to your site because these features improve how search engines see it. If Google’s web crawlers detect that you’re regularly adding relevant and credible content to your website, you’ll be rewarded with a higher position on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Set yourself up for SEO success by following these 10 best practices:
1. Make sure your website is secure. Most people are concerned about online privacy. They want to know the websites they’re visiting are secure. This is also a crucial ranking factor for search engines. A secure website will always rank higher than one that isn’t.
If you aren’t sure what you need to do to improve your site’s security, talk to your web host or your web manager about the type of security that’s most appropriate for your website. At the very minimum, you want to have a security certificate on your website that will ensure your content is delivered by SSL (secure socket layer).
How can you tell if a website has an SSL certificate? Check the address bar. If you see the site address begins with “https://” and has a small lock icon next to the web address, you know the site is secure.
2. Add your main keyword early into your content. Every page on your website should have one focus keyword, and including that keyword near the top of the page lets search engines know what your content is about. Google will detect that this term is important, and that helps you rank well for the term.
Use your main keyword throughout the rest of your content, too, but do it naturally. Using a keyword too many times in your content just for the sake of using it is obvious to humans and Google—and the latter will punish you for it by dropping you down the SERPs.
3. Use unique titles, descriptions, and content. Gone are the days of stuffing keywords into every nook and cranny of your page. Google’s web crawlers are pretty sophisticated and they can “read” copy. That means search engines can tell if you’re using a word or phrase more than is necessary, and they can also pick up on plagiarism and similar content.
If a web crawler inspects your page and sees content that’s very similar to content it’s come across elsewhere, your page is considered redundant. But when your content is original, Google ranks it higher because it appears to add to the information that’s already been created about your topic.
4. Optimize your title tag for SEO. A lot of people confuse a title tag with the header (H1) they choose for the top of each page on their website. It’s true that the two are often the same (or very similar). For example, if you have an About Us page and you’ve used “About Us” as the H1, you may have “about-us” in your title tag, too.
It’s good practice to include your main keyword in the title tag of your website because title tags help with SEO. And if you can, work your main keyword into the header of the page. The goal is to give priority to this main keyword so Google knows exactly what your page is about.
5. Make sure your website loads quickly. If you’ve ever come across a slow loading website, you know how quickly you lose your patience waiting for it. Don’t give people coming to your site an excuse to leave before they see anything. Now more than ever, loading time is an important ranking factor for search engines.
Here are a few ways to get your site loading lightning fast:
- Compress images, remove any unnecessary code, and consider using a content delivery network (CDN). When you use a CDN, your website serves images and other media from servers that are closer to the physical location of your website visitor. This can drastically improve loading time.
- A lot of web hosts have moved over to CDNs to deliver content for their clients’ websites. Your web host or web manager can tell you more about how this can benefit your website.
- If you have a WordPress site, there are many plugins you can install that will help you speed up the loading time for your website.
6. Optimize all of your images. SEO doesn’t only apply to the words in your copy. Properly optimized images can boost your website rank, too. You can optimize the images on your website easily by giving all of your images descriptive file names. When you upload them to the site, the file name goes to work for you.
I also recommend using image alt text so search engines can understand the images on your website. Instead of leaving the alt text section blank when you upload your images, use words to clearly describe the image. Not a lot of people know that image alt text doesn’t just help SEO. It also improves the user experience for people who are visually impaired and use screen readers. Their computers read everything on a page to them, including the image alt text.
7. Use internal linking. When you set up your website so that smaller pages link to a larger, authoritative piece, the more important page ranks better.
Remember to use the main keyword, or a variation of it, in your internal links so search engines know what the page is about.
8. Create amazing content. Every page on your website should include high-quality content that answers questions your readers might have about your topic.
Search engines don’t pay much attention to pages with fewer than 1,000 words, so try to write longer, authoritative content to attract Google’s attention.
If you can write 1,500 or 2,000 words (or more!) of quality content, you might notice your ranking on the SERPs go up. That’s because the amount of time a visitor spends on your website (and on each page) is factored into your ranking. And if there are more words on a page, it’s going to take longer for a visitor to read it.
[If the thought of writing that much content for every page on your website is making you panic, remember there are people like me who can do it for you. 🙂 ]
9. Build backlinks to your website. If anyone tells you that backlinks aren’t important anymore, they’re lying. But it has to be done properly, and that means starting slow. Good backlinks show search engines that your content is valuable enough for other webmasters to link to.
When you use backlinks to improve your SEO, choose credible and important websites in your field. Links from low-quality websites that accept advertising from anyone and link to any website will probably hurt your search engine rankings.
10. Look at the user experience. If visitors are struggling to navigate your website, they won’t stick around for long. When this happens a lot, it’s called a high bounce rate and it can also affect where you fall in the SERPs. A high bounce rate means you need to take a close look at your user experience.
Maybe your visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for, or maybe your website is broken in some way. What can you do to improve your visitor’s experience?
When you put these 10 top SEO practices to work for your website, you’ll increase your chances of a higher ranking with search engines. And when you rank higher, people see you in the SERPs first. Your traffic will increase—and your sales, too.
You may have heard rumors that email is on its way out. But make no mistake about it: email is still king when it comes to business communications—especially direct-to-consumer marketing.
Sure, text and group channel communications like Slack have made significant headway. But good ole email is still the way most people reach out, respond, and build relationships when they want to connect with new and existing clients.
The downside to this is email is everywhere. And it’s created a phenomenon known as “email blindness,” which is similar to the “junk mail blindness” people developed with its predecessor, snail mail.
Think about it: How many times have you emptied your (physical) mailbox, sorted what was important and then discarded the “junk” mail without a second thought?
Over the past two decades or so, we’ve adopted the same process with our email inboxes.
First, email providers started filtering annoying spam messages (and try to find anyone who didn’t celebrate that advancement!). Then Gmail, the world’s largest email provider, decided to further filter messages into “social” and “promotions” tabs to save you from doing it.
Now, fewer messages than ever are making it through the spam, promotions, and social filters and landing in your main inbox. And if an email actually does make it to your inbox, it still has to make your cut.
Will be one of the emails you delete immediately because it doesn’t appear important? Or will it be one of the thousands that sit unopened forever?
Getting Your Message Across
One of the most common business challenges you’ll face—and what’s keeping you from reaching more clients faster—is identifying how to make the email experience better for the people on your list.
As a coach or consultant, you have to deliver content your recipients want to read. An irresistible subject line might get them to click, but if what they get inside is always disappointing, they quickly develop email blindness to your emails.
So here are 5 ways to improve your email content and get more people to read what you’re sending them.
1. Make it personal
The biggest mistake marketers, salespeople, and business owners make when they email potential clients is sending cold emails.
If you don’t want to run the risk of falling victim to email blindness, make it a rule that you never send an email without a personal element to it. That could be anything from including your name in the “from” field to mentioning a mutual friend who encouraged you to send the email.
The easiest way to do this is simply add a sentence about how you met or why you’re contacting them, even if it was just from an introduction through their network of contacts. For example:
“Hi, Tom! I’m reaching out to you because Sarah mentioned you’re looking for someone to help you with your email marketing.”
Look at every single email you send to new contacts and ask yourself if the recipient will instantly know who you are. If the answer is no, you’ve got some work to do!
2. Be concise
Nothing makes a reader tune out like a wall of text or an email that looks like a small novel.
You have only a few seconds to capture your contact’s attention, so use it wisely.
And how many times have you seen an email come in that looks like this:
“Hi Rachel, I came across your article in Forbes and thought you might be interested in our service. If so, please let me know…”
Pretty boring, right?
Boilerplate text is easy to recognize and using it is a surefire way to make your new contact feel like you don’t care about them.
Here’s a better idea: Start with a personalized greeting, especially when you’re reaching out to someone for the first time. This reminds the reader who they’re speaking with and keeps things on a more conversational level.
3. Add a call to action
This is especially important if you’re using email as a lead generation tool or for outreach purposes. But it’s also good practice when you’re reaching out to someone for the first time–or at least after they’ve taken an interest in what you have to say.
A call to action is a sentence or statement that clearly tells the recipient what you want them to do next. It could be a prompt to book a call with you, or simply telling them to reply if they’d like more information about the subject of your email
No matter what the email’s intent, it’s smart to give clear guidance on what you want the reader to do next.
4. Keep the reader in mind
Before you compose your email, think about who will be on the receiving end. What are their circumstances? Are they a busy executive? A stay-at-home mom? An entrepreneur who’s juggling everything in their business? Whatever their situation, it’s important to write your email in a way they can relate to.
This also means keeping your tone and language appropriate. Use words that your audience would use themselves. That means using everyday language you’d use in a face-to-face conversation. (Yes, even slang sometimes!)
5. Use images and videos
The internet has an endless supply of content, and it’s all competing for your reader’s attention. You have to get creative to keep your reader’s interest. One way to do this is to occasionally add an interesting picture or gif to keep your reader curious and entertained.
You can use infographics or videos, too, but don’t use them just for the sake of using them. Choose ones that are relevant to your message. If you’re adding a video clip or a snippet from an article or blog, make sure you include a link to the full video or blog.
Even though text messages and messaging apps are popular ways to communicate with friends and family, email is still the most effective way for you to connect with prospects and existing clients.
If you’ve been working on building your email list and staying in contact with the people on it, give these email tips a try. You just might find you get better responses, avoid spam and other filters, and get more leads for your coaching or consulting business.
I know you’re always looking for new and creative ways to encourage engagement on your social media posts. So am I. I’m not immune to the fact it can be painfully difficult to get people to leave a comment or share your content.
There are the tried-and-true strategies that work pretty well. The ‘ole “comment or tag someone to be entered” type of contest comes to mind.
And that will get you some engagement. But only for as long as the contest runs.
Then you’re back to crickets.
Meanwhile, your post is probably annoying more people than it’s attracting. I’ve been tagged in the same post multiple times by several Facebook friends trying to win a contest.
Good on you if you want to enter to win a new set of patio furniture or free tickets to a wine tour. But why do you have to drag your friends into it?
These kinds of posts don’t really do much to create a relationship within your audience anyway. After all, if there weren’t an incentive, would they comment or share? Probably not.
So how can you get that kind of attention without bribing people with a giveaway?
Organic Reach is… Tough
It’s no secret organic reach is tough to get with your Facebook business page. Unless your audience engages with your content, your social posts won’t end up in their feeds.
It’s a similar story for Instagram. The algorithm’s job is to feed you content you’re interested in. And how does it know what you’re interested in?
It studies the content you interact with.
Knowing that, it’s crucial for you to put out content that’ll get people to react–whether it’s with a thoughtful comment below your post or even sharing it with their audience.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to rack your brain to come up with clever ways to get people to engage. In fact, doing these 5 things consistently will boost engagement on your social posts:
Share the Content of Your Followers
Communication is a two-way street and so is engagement. Try sharing content that your followers post, and they’ll be more inclined to return the favor. They’ll want to give your post a little boost when you’ve already done the same for them.
This is an especially smart move if a follower has posted something about your business, like a purchase they made, a picture they took at your location, or a review of your business.
When they make a post or share a story on Instagram, reshare it to your business page with a caption like, “Thanks for stopping in,” or “We’re glad you enjoyed your [product/service].”
It’s a super simple way to share their content but still keep your feed on-brand.
With this strategy, you’re creating a more personalized experience with your audience (which creates loyalty and boosts engagement). You’re also encouraging your followers to create posts about your business because they know it could be shared on your page. That’s a no-lose proposition!
Social media is about being social. No one wants to talk with a business. It’s impersonal, and it reinforces the idea that business pages only exist as a marketing tool to make money (which may be true, but you don’t have to remind your followers of that).
Just like you, your audience wants to connect with other people. They want to connect with you. Be personable. It’ll make your followers more likely to engage.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you run an independent bookstore. Your social media page might include information about your hours, sales, upcoming book releases, events, etc. That’s informative, but it’s not giving anyone a reason to connect with you.
Why not take it to the next level and create posts that give book recommendations based on what your staff members are reading?
Your audience won’t only get a steady stream of information about the titles you carry, but they’re able to make connections with your staff based on reading interest. It gives your audience a chance to comment and say, “Wow, I loved that book, too!” Or they may even make recommendations of their own.
Whenever you can, show the people who work behind the scenes through snippets of everyday life in your business. People want to talk to people—and people buy from people (not companies).
Learn When Your Audience is Most Active
It’s hard to increase engagement if you don’t know when your audience is online. Posting too early in the morning or too late in the day might get your content buried in their newsfeeds. Be intentional about the days and times in which you post.
Most social media platforms now provide analytics that let you know when your audience is most active. Break it down by day of the week and time of day. Then, strategically plan your posts to publish just before peak engagement times.
Respond to Comments
One of the easiest ways to encourage people to comment on your posts is to respond when they do. If you have a small following, try to respond to each comment quickly. If you have a larger following, and comments come in faster than you can respond, spend some time engaging with as many as you can.
If you can’t comment on all of them, try to at least leave a reaction to their comment. Personally, I prefer to use the heart emoji over the thumbs-up emoji. (Maybe that’s just me be over-enthusiastic.)
When you respond to comments, you’re telling your followers that you appreciate their engagement and you’re interested in what they have to say. It can be something as simple as a thank you when they leave a positive comment, or a longer response when they ask a question.
You may even start to recognize some of your more frequent commenters and build a relationship with them. That’s when you can reference them in old comments or tag them in content you think they may find interesting. All of this builds a sort of mutual engagement that creates loyalty and boosts engagement even further.
Create Posts That Spur conversation
This is a really basic strategy, which is probably why it’s so effective. Create posts that spark a conversation by encouraging viewers to share what they think.
These conversation starters don’t have to require deep thought. It could be something as simple as comparing two similar products and asking customers which one they like best and why.
You’ll often see this strategy in action by businesses that sell handmade jewelry or some other handmade item.
The post might have a picture showing two plates, with copy that reads, “We can’t decide which glaze we like better on these ceramic plates: green or blue. What do you think?”
Not only are you encouraging your followers to comment, but you also get some feedback on your products. When they give it, don’t forget to respond to their comments!
So there you have it: 5 easy ways to boost engagement on your social media posts.
None of these strategies is particularly advanced. They don’t have to be to work. The trick to building a good relationship with your audience is to put in the work.
Show excitement about their content, their comments, and publish posts that spark their interest and curiosity. When you do, your followers will naturally want to comment and share more often—no “like and share this post” incentive needed.
Congratulations! You’ve finally started the coaching business you always dreamed of. You’re making connections and getting yourself seen on social media. You’re building your email list.
But have you started a blog yet?
I’ve done some poking around, and from what I’ve heard from the coaches I’ve spoken to, most don’t have one. But they intend to… one day.
They say their priority is building their business through social channels: Some have started a Facebook group, others are being active in others’ Facebook groups. They’re getting onto LinkedIn. They’re focussing on Instagram.
And social media is an unbelievable marketing tool, so I can’t deny you need a social presence for pretty much every type of business.
But did you know that having a blog is one of the most under-utilized tools by business owners today?
A small business blog is a crucial aspect of any content marketing strategy. In fact, it should be one of the first pieces you put into place when you’re creating a content strategy for your coaching business.
And because a blog is an extension of your brand, you’ll need to come up with compelling and engaging blog posts consistently. This is where people can dive deeper into your services, your expertise, and how your methods work.
If you don’t think having a blog for your coaching business is a priority, here are 7 good reasons why you should start one right away:
Attract More Search Engine Traffic
Your blog can be a natural information resource. Sure, you’ll want to have your most recent post come up on the homepage of your website, but you can get it noticed elsewhere, too. And not just for a week or two; a well-written blog post can attract readers indefinitely.
When you optimize your blog copy (which means you include popular keywords and phrases in your text), it helps capture traffic from search engines like Google.
What you end up with is “evergreen” content that ranks higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). People looking for the information you’ve written about in your blog will find it when they type it into Google or other search engines. And the more people who see it and click on it, the better your chances of staying on the first page of the SERPs.
Keep Your Customers Updated
Marketing your business with a blog gives you a bigger space to talk about what you do.
Long social media posts don’t get a lot of views because there’s just too much competing for your reader’s attention at once.
A Facebook newsfeed is—literally—endless. Dropping a 500-word (or more) social media post in your group or on your Facebook page will usually go unread. At best it might be skimmed. And without being able to add subheads or use other techniques to make your post easier to read, most long posts on social media pages just look like big, solid blocks of text.
And big, solid blocks of text look complicated to readers. They’ll scroll right past.
With a blog, you can talk to your customers about what’s going on behind the scenes at your company. You can talk to them about a specific issue you know they deal with. You have a quiet place to show your expertise—and can do it away from the distraction of social media.
When someone clicks to read your blog post, it’s the only thing on the page. You’ve got their undivided attention—and for much longer than you’d have it on Facebook or Instagram.
Increase Your SEO Potential
Besides improving your search engine ranking, a blog is great for your other web-based marketing efforts.
Each time you add a new blog post, it helps drive more traffic to your site. This means you’ll get more chances to capture new leads.
One of the greatest things about a blog is that you can go back update old posts to keep them relevant. And when you regularly post new content, Google’s web crawlers have to keep coming back and indexing your new pages. This signals to Google that your website is active (which helps your search engine rankings).
This is especially important for content marketing because you can capitalize on the popularity of different topics and trends with each new blog post. It gives your business a chance to stay relevant in your market.
Generate Leads and Sales
If you’re having a hard time generating leads and marketing your business, content marketing is your best bet.
With a blog, you can capture more leads by adding a signup form or some type of opt-in area right at the end of your posts so people who’ve enjoyed your content can be notified about future posts, resources, and offerings.
This gets them on your mailing list, too. A double win!
Generate Traffic to Another Site
As a coach working in the personal development space, you can link your blog posts to other resources that may benefit your readers or ones that complement what you do.
If you’re offering health and wellness coaching services, for example, you could link to studies or other sites that deal with sleep, meditation, or mental health services. Let your blog help you connect with other bloggers. These connections will serve you well as you work to grow your online presence and reputation.
Get to Know Your Customers
Blogging helps you get more insight into your customer base and understand what your followers are looking for.
Use your blog to track the demographics of your readers. What types of content do they like best? What posts are attracting the most attention and comments?
Blog posts also make it easier to track what keywords are being used most for searches in your industry.
Get People Excited About Your Business
Creating a blog will generate more energy and excitement around your company, courses, and industry.
Think about it: The more posts you write, and the more you attract comments and connections with other bloggers, the more the people who visit your site will get a feel for who you are and what you do.
This is, of course, is in addition to them being able to see—through your posts—that you’re an expert in what you do.
Plus, regular blogging can keep you on top of trends in your industry. That’s a great way to get inspired about new innovations, releases, and marketing campaigns.
If you’re a new coach—and even if you’re not—a blog is an important piece of your content marketing strategy if you want to set yourself apart from others in your field.
It’s not just about acquiring new clients; a blog can keep you connected with your existing clients, the ones who are still on the fence about working with you, and others who are tied to your industry. And a blog allows you to stay relevant in an ever-changing marketplace.
Need some help coming up with blog topic ideas? Send me a message through my Contact page and I can help you brainstorm.