If you’ve been consistent with publishing content, yet your audience isn’t buying from you, this post is for you…
A reader wrote to me:
“George, I share your philosophy on the creation of valuable free content. I’ve been blogging daily, as well as creating videos. I would do this work regardless, and want to develop trust with my audience. However, sales have been slow. In your experience, what is the tipping point when your free content begins to translate into revenue?”
First of all, I applaud the consistency of your content! It has no doubt helped you develop knowledge in your field and consistently improve your ability to communicate your message.
Your audience’s trust in you and your brand has also grown, and it is well-deserved and solid. Your content has improved the lives of many readers, even if they haven’t taken the step to let you know.
However, content does not automatically translate into sales or revenue… and there is no tipping point.
One content creator could have a full business within months, while another one may never grow a sustainable revenue.
Resonance, Sampling, and Visibility of one’s offerings. I’ll explain each of these.
As authentic entrepreneurs our creativity is often led by our passionate vision.
We develop our offerings (services, products, programs) based on an idea, or a peak experience we had, and then we assume that there are enough people that would love it as much as we do.
Once in a while, we might make enough sales. Most of the time, the sales only trickle in, if at all.
If this is the case, we need to invest energy into developing offerings (or re-framing an existing one) based on focused compassion.
This means doing some market research — what relevant products/services is our audience buying now?
From the insights, we then create an offering that matches their current wants… what they are actually spending money on.
In short, we are looking for the intersection of their passion and ours.
For a brief synopsis of this method, read this post:
Passion & Compassion: Dual Focuses in Authentic Business
For the in-depth teaching on market research, check out my Better Offers Course.
Think about how this analogy can apply to your own offerings:
I enjoy veggie burgers. But when I go to Costco and see that I am forced to buy a pack of 12, I don’t buy it. I don’t know if I’ll love that brand… or if I even like veggie burgers that much.
This is why stores offer sampling of products. They’ll have an employee hand out small samples of veggie burgers for shoppers to try. If I like it, I might splurge on the 12-pack.
Even so, buying 12 at once is a bit too much for me: I’m concerned that I might get tired of it or too lazy to spend the time preparing it to my liking. Instead, I’ll go to Whole Foods to get a pack of 2. If I love it, then I’ll get the 12-pack at Costco, since it’s a better deal.
Let’s apply this analogy to your offerings.
Are you trying to sell your audience a 6-month coaching program? 12-module online course?
If you have already done the work to ensure that it’s resonant (which we’ve discussed above), but it’s still not selling well, then it’s a sampling problem… or rather, lack of sampling!
Instead of a 6-month coaching package, can you sell a pack of 3 sessions? Even then, they might need 1 session to sample what it’s like to work with you. You could sell a single session at your highest rate for example $150… then a 3-pack at a lower per-session rate for example $130… then the 12-pack at the lowest per-session rate for example $115 (a rate that you would still be happy with.)
Additionally, you could offer a free “discovery call” or complimentary session to help remove the risk of trying out your coaching.
If people aren’t signing up for your complimentary sessions, let’s take Sampling to the next step: can you record a short session with a willing participant, and share that video so your audience can see what it’s like to work with you?
When it comes to selling your 12-module online course, what might Sampling mean? How about selling a single webinar that is just 1 hour long and more affordable?
In a sense, your consistent content, especially if it’s video, is another way for people to sample your work.
Besides Resonance and Sampling, you may also be facing a Visibility problem…
There needs to be enough people seeing your offerings, before you get even 1 sale.
If you’ve made your offering resonant, and you’re offering a low-risk sample, but people aren’t buying, then it’s a visibility problem.
What I recommend to my own clients is to start with $30/month of Facebook/Instagram Ads. Used effectively, ads are a miracle for the small business owner, allowing you to reach millions of the right people.
Personally I spend at least $300 per month on Ads just to distribute my articles and videos so that people can benefit from my content, even if they never buy anything. Of course if they benefit and are inspired by my content, they’re more likely to continue reading my posts. I buy additional Ads to sell my courses to those who have recently engaged with my posts. (Considering my total Ad spend each month, the return on investment has been very positive.)
If you aren’t doing FB Ads yet, why not start with $30/month and grow from there? (To learn it step by step, check out my Facebook Marketing course.)
Another highly recommended strategy for visibility is to do collaborations. You can read my blog posts about small business collaboration or take my course: Simple Collaboration / Authentic JV’s.
All the while, keep consistent with your content…While working on Resonance, Sampling, and Visibility, keep your rhythm of content. That is the foundation on which an authentic business is built.
Your authentic, consistent, relevant content builds you an audience of true fans which then gives you the privilege of their attention. You can then share your offerings with them occasionally.
Without their trust, they won’t even consider your offerings.
With enough trust, they will take a real look at your offerings, and, if it’s a resonant sample they can see themselves using, they will take action and buy from you.
(Article originally written in 2018, updated for 2020.)
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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