I raise pet bulls for a living.
No, not those dangerous rodeo kind.
The key word is “pet”.
And those pet bulls teach me a lot about marketing, writing, and other life lessons.
I wrote and recorded an article way back in April 2016, “Breakthroughs and Bull-Calves: What Sales Funnels and Cattle-Raising Share.”
Someone found that article and sent me a link to one of her ghost-written articles to include on my site.
In critiquing both of them, I realized how much I’d learned from raising cattle and writing/publishing short stories all this last year. (As well how to write better articles.)
Here’s what I sent her:
Thanks for contacting me.
Frankly, both my article and yours have problems.
They are both rather dry informational pieces, not good marketing that builds to a CTA.
Any article should result in a fair return of subscribers. It’s likely neither of these would, as written. But both could, easily.
In both of them, the reader soon starts scanning to see if they can figure out what the headline meant. They are no longer reading after the first paragraph.
See that one pull quote buried far too far down in my article:
“Ask to get in front of other people’s audiences and give then additional choices that they’ll appreciate.”
That is what works in any “sales funnel” in one sentence.
The headline needs to grab the reader, and only promise – not disclose anything. It should be a curiosity piece and a hint of a (or downright blatant) promised benefit. In both cases, these articles don’t.
Your article could take that one principle and re-title that article with “The Unknown Secret of Sales Funnels Revealed” but of course, that’s too hackneyed and won’t pull.
“Why your sales funnels don’t work anymore and what you can do about it.” would be a better one.
Sales funnels as a concept have been worked to death. And mostly they don’t work. Because people are bored with them – from their own lack of understanding of their customer’s mindset.
People who mis-use (and mis-market) sales funnels don’t know the principle they are built on – a deep, trusting relationship.
An even better headline for your article would be “How to make your sales funnels start working and become the hero of your company.”
Because in an over-hyped market, (per Eugene Schwartz) people will seek a better identity as a benefit. (Like the Marlboro Man and the Virginia Slims Woman used to sell cigarettes while everyone else was selling low-tar/nicotene or their special filters.)
Of course, you then shift your article around to make it lead in from that headline – your first paragraph/sentence becomes a cliffhanger that then leads into the next paragraph/sentence which leads to the next and so on.
In my own article, a better headline would be:
“Breakthroughs in Conversion: How raising pet bulls can make you a sales funnel hero.”
And then the first two lines would be –
Bulls are known to be cantankerous, even killers. Like the bucking ones used in rodeos.
Staying on for just eight seconds wins. If you can get off in one piece…
(What picture comes to mind? Instant threat to survival. And raises the question, “pet bulls?”)
The key lesson in raising bulls (and surviving) is not to start with wild ones. Your customers are like that.
More curiosity – and starts to answer the cliffhanger.
My bulls are raised from birth to be calm. They go just where I want them to. When I want them to. Just like the ideal customers who comes into your sales funnel.
Now the reader is really curious (unless they don’t care squat about farming – but then, the headline wouldn’t have pulled them in, anyway.) How is a cattle farmer going to tell them about how to get their customers to buy?
That is the point in my article that would pick up the way unsuccessful sales funnels are normally built (which is designing them as a funnel – and why more people are referring to them as a “buyer’s journey” these days.)
Whatever you call them, the principles are the same – earning their trust and offering them something they want.
At that point, both articles (kinda) talk about that and could be re-written so that the reader becomes the hero by learning the real secret in that last sentence above, and work out how to tweak their “funnel” so that it does.
The best articles have to be entertaining, educational, and inspiring. They have to read like a short story to get readers to their end and click on that CTA link.
I’d be happy to work with you on any article you want to resubmit…
- Writing effective articles are like short stories – begin with the end in mind, but start in the middle of the conflict.
- Keep your reader riveted though both, so they get to the end and want more.
- Whatever you call your conversion route, it still has to earn the reader’s trust – and hold it all the way through their clicking on your link at the end.
- And your CTA link needs to give them what they want – not what you want.
Best of luck with your own writing.
PS. That original article above will tell you more about how I raise calm bulls that are more interested in getting their back scratched than anything else – except a some good feed or a nice-looking heifer…
Also published on Medium.