In this edition:
- Considering the stakes
- Why the forces of antagonism hold us back
- Content on writing better intros
- Why specificity matters
- A reminder on what you should do after you get the click
How Katelyn Bourgoin made $14,950 in 57 minutes with two emails and a Google Doc
Katelyn Bourgoin is the founder of Customer Camp, author of the wildly popular “Why We Buy” newsletter and co-founder of ” The Un-ignorable Challenge” a cohort-based program that shows entrepreneurs how to create “thumb-stoppingly good content”.
To test demand in late 2022, she limited pre-sales seats to only 50 people, and to keep things simple and break expectations, she used a no-frills Google Doc instead of a fancy landing page.
The result? She closed $14,950 in sales in less than an hour.
In this conversation we’ll discuss:
- How she primed her readers to buy in advance
- The psychological principles she used in the lead-up to the sale
- How “The Un-ignorable Challenge” has evolved since.
You’re not going to want to miss this one.
Top of mind:
It’s 3am. There’s a chill. Nothing but the sound of crickets, the hum of the street light, and the occasional dog bark echo through the night.
Your reader, bags under their eyes and sweat on their brow, cracks open their laptop, light seering into their retenas, and they type…
Desperate, they type, and they click, and they search, and they type… and somehow, they land on your work.
Will it be useful in their 9am when they give their team the presentation on the thing?
Does it get them thinking about things differently?
Are you confident what you’ve published can turn their day around? Their week? Their year? Their life?
Can they fall asleep peacefully when they’re done?
What are the stakes?
I propose the reason a lot of B2B content doesn’t stick is because what’s at stake for the reader isn’t considered at a metatextual level.
That’s a mistake because stakes are the foundation of every story.
Consider these popular movies.
Back to the Future – If Marty McFly’s parents don’t fall in love, he and his siblings will be erased from existence.
Interstellar – If Cooper doesn’t find a habitable planet, the human race goes extinct.
Die Hard – If John McClain doesn’t stop the terrorists, his wife and everyone in the building will die.
If there’s nothing at stake, our characters don’t have reason to act; if they don’t act, there are no obstacles; if there are no obstacles, there are no character-revealing moments; if there are no character moments, there is no change; if there is no change, there is no story.
“Now Tommy,” I hear you say, “It can’t be that serious…”
A director invests a million dollars into a sales prospecting software that doesn’t work the way they thought it would.
Because of that, the sales velocity of the organization slows down by 25%
Because of that, the company eventually has to lay off 10% of its employees.
Because of that, the company can’t support areas of product development or customer service and begins to lag in the market.
All because they couldn’t find content that would help them make an informed decision at 3am.
Getting clear on the stakes
We create because there’s some tangential relationship to the thing we sell.
They consume because………?
It’s a simple enough question, but I’ll be honest, I hadn’t always considered it.
It wasn’t until about 7 years into my career that I understood the stakes for one of my readers. I was teaching an in-person workshop with Shopify, and afterward, a gentleman came up to ask me some questions.
For the majority of the conversation, I was just another faceless employee, then he asked a question I had to open my laptop for. He saw my headshot and said “THAT’S YOU?! YOU’RE HIM?!”
He then teared up and told me that about a year prior he was 2 weeks away from eviction. He was going to a food bank so he could feed his 3-year-old daughter.
He said he ended up finding an article I wrote about developing an offer, so he started brainstorming, then he read another article I wrote about landing pages, and he put one together, then he read another article on finding your first customers, and was soon able to put together enough money to pay rent, then eventually take his daughter out to dinner.
He said a year later he was earning a stable enough income to live comfortably, and a good deal of that was because of what I had written.
While I’ve always cared about improving my skills as a creator, I made my living working down a big ole’ keyword list without considering it could change the course of another human being’s life.
From that point on, everything I created kept the stakes for the reader in mind.
What is the worst possible outcome?
It may be cynical, but I ask this question every time I sit down to write even the most mundane topics.
How to do your books?
The reader has cash flow problems, is staring down an audit, is on the verge of losing their business, and risks losing their spouse and kids.
How to understand prospect’s pain points?
The reader is behind on their sales quota, their job is at risk, they have bills coming due, and they can’t ask for another advance on their paycheck.
How to give a demo?
The reader has been giving ineffectual demos for the past three months and is stumbling over their words, and the deep-seated performance issues remind them of the time they were laughed off stage in the 5th-grade talent show.
These outcomes don’t usually make their way into the work, but serve as a reminder of why the reader is there.
Most content fails to consider the time, effort, politics, or other factors that go into solving a problem, or that fixing one thing often reveals another issue.
Bringing the stakes to their most extreme outcome helps to visualize the obstacles and keep the work grounded, clear, actionable, and avoid painting idyllic, unrealistic scenarios.
So how do you find the stakes?
Research. Lots of research. Research and imagination.
Talk to people, obviously, but also look at case studies. See what people were saying their problem was before they solved it with other solutions. Imagine what they didn’t say.
Ask yourself what are the real, human reasons someone might come to this piece.
Get outside of the keyword list, get outside of the brief, and think about what real-world circumstances would lead someone to be interested in the topic.
There are actually 7 layers of research I recommend, which I dive into in the course I’m developing for content teams.
But really, finding the stakes comes down to a lot of listening and a lot of imagination.
Keeping it real
The reason why most B2B content doesn’t stick is because it’s not speaking to any humanity.
It doesn’t bring meaning to statistics, consider the circumstances, and instead, presents the information and hopes the reader infers something that they will find helpful.
We want to bring more humanity and candid realism to the work.
Because sometimes, a little honesty and understanding are all you need to stand out.
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Let’s get social
Katelyn Bourgoin regularly talks about psychology principles in her work, but this one on Confirmation Bias is particularly relevant to what we’re talking about.
Here’s an excerpt from her post:
If you want buyers to change their minds you must first meet them where they are… and then give them an “out”.
This plays so well into what we’re talking about. Before we can sell anything, we have to understand where in the story our protagonist is, and then we can start swaying them in one direction.
From “The Vault”
The Vault is a collection of articles that have been edited by guest editors on The Cutting Room.
Look at raw drafts and see how editors from companies like Writer.com, Calendly, Airtable, and more give their feedback in the doc.
Jay brings up a point I think a lot of us miss when it comes to writing content for search.
“SEO content” isn’t a format, it’s a front door, and by using very intentional choices with words and link placement, you can absolutely earn deeper clicks into your site.
See all of Jay’s comments here.
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See you in the next one ✌️
Tommy Walker | The Content Studio
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