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Most content marketing experts say, "engaging content drives sales." In reality even the most engaging blogs, Facebook timelines or LinkedIn discussions fail to produce leads and sales.
For most businesses, engaging customers creates profitless prosperity. They have impressive marketing statistics that ultimately don't directly help generate leads and sales. Businesses who DO create leads and sales using social selling seem to know something the rest of us don't.
Why we're failing to sell with engagement
Most of us are failing to sell with engaging social campaigns. We're failing because we're building content marketing itself on an outdated foundation. We're clinging to mass media advertising ideas and values. Meanwhile, those content marketing programs that create leads and sales are exploiting direct response marketing concepts and values.
Direct response is the secret sauce. This is the untold truth that top social sellers realize and act on. It's how they are making social media sell for them. Engagement alone isn't enough.
After all, why do so many of us pursue getting "Liked" on Facebook or followed on Twitter? Because of this single idea: getting lots of customers' attention (reach) over and over (frequency) is enough to earn a sale... somehow, sometime. Indeed, this is how brand advertising is conducted. Now I'm not saying attention doesn't matter. It does. I'm simply saying it's not enough to be momentarily memorable, funny, "human" or engaging.
Stopping at earning customers fleeting attention or amusement is a sure-fire losing strategy online. Does this mean that brand marketing or engagement without calls-to-action don't sell products and services? No. But it does mean that it's a weak strategy when compared to direct response. The Internet, after all, is interactive and built for direct response!
What to do in order to make the sale
Today's best social sellers do not believe for a minute that exposure to engaging content will result in a sale. They have no faith that it will produce a lead. Rather, the content they create solves customers problems or vividly demonstrates (proves... think "infomercial") compelling experiences relating to their service. They believe in, and execute on this and carefully mix in calls-to-action. They make it irresistable for customers to take specific actions that connect to pre-designed experiences and marketing processes.
The best way to sell on Facebook is to solve customers' problems (yes "for free") in ways that earn trust and ultimately help them navigate their way toward your paid products and services.
Flip the paradigm
Ignore the "experts" preaching aimless engagement. Get focused on a purpose that is the behavioral outcome of your social campaign. Is there one? Make it so or don't make it at all.
Most of all, don't get sucked into the profitless prosperity black hole. When I speak to audiences I encourage them to think (and act) in terms of direct response marketing when engaging with social media and content marketing.
Ron Perlstien says it so well when he says, "Frequency is the benefit of success, not the key to success."
In other words, you can increase frequency when you generate sales revenue.