Bob Burg, author, Endless Referrals is famous for saying “People buy from people that they like, know and trust.” Sound simple right? Well how do you get them to know, like and trust you?
Enter content marketing.
By way of targeted, engaging, and informational content (storytelling), businesses can demonstrate their intuitive understanding of their customers’ journeys. But content marketing does far more than foster relatability—it paints a vision for how a consumer can surmount their obstacles and become the hero of their own story.
So what do you do when you know a ton about your products and services but also know that you’re not a good writer?
To lead with pathos, your content marketing should follow a specific formula: PPPO, or:
Today, we’re going to show you how to use these four pillars to champion content that compels your audience and establishes the trust that drives long-term relationships.
With this framework, you can remove the “sales” from your pitch and engage customers through personable, organic dialogue…no matter what channel you’re reaching them in.
PPPO Strategy, A Breakdown
Whether you’re just beginning to build your sales and marketing ecosystem or you already have prospects in the funnel, know that making the first connection is an achievement in itself. Today, this is evermore apparent, as 40% of sales professionals report that receiving a response from prospects is much tougher than it was just 3 years ago.
The key to netting and retaining customers—especially through the first engagement—is deploying a consistent strategy in each piece of content you generate.
This is where Pain, Promise, Proof, and Opportunity become instrumental to conveying your entire brand’s narrative. Let’s break down each pillar and dissect why they’re critical for executing a sales pitch or marketing your company successfully.
Pillar #1: Pain
If you’ve ever missed the mark on a presentation, been rejected by a date, or dragged yourself through a Monday after a flat tire rendered you two hours late to work, you probably reached out to a friend or relative to vent.
There are people who will immediately fixate on the problem and rattle off what you can do to make it better. And then there are the people who listen, absorb, and tell you a story about the worst date they’ve ever had—and how they recovered from it. They say: I understand your story, I validate your emotions, here’s my own insight.
At the Pain stage, your content (be it web copy, a sales asset, lead gen primer, etc.) should:
- Establish your understanding of the experience having the problem, not just “the problem”
- Use relatable narratives that mirror your customer’s journey
- Demonstrate empathy for the emotional tenor—the pain—of being in their position
Before you bring up your customer’s problem, you need to create space for their pain.
When your content leads with empathy, you play an intimate role in replenishing your customer’s confidence. To that end, sincerity and trust are the foundations of any strong relationship—and the single most important factor customers look for when engaging with the sales process.
If you can write a prologue they recognize themselves in, the likelier they’ll be to recruit you to help write the rest of their story.
Pillar #2: Promise
If the Pain stage is where you till the soil for a sincere relationship, the promise stage is where you demonstrate what you’ll cultivate together.
Fleshing out the value of what you alone can offer is the single most effective tenet in converting customers during a sales pitch, closely followed by demonstrating what a collaboration with you would look like.
At the Promise stage, it’s your job to put the two together. To that end, there are three integral goals in the Promise phase:
- Present the strategies and steps necessary for resolving their pain
- Illustrate what makes your approach to resolution uniquely valuable
- Demonstrate why they can trust you with their journey
Above all, the Promise stage cements your expertise and differentiates your offering from the competition. But that doesn’t mean you should lean into data sets or case studies to persuade a customer to work with you.
This is still their story. Not yours.
Your objective here is to show your customer the singularity of a partnership with you (or a commitment to your products) in both its process and results. This is where your customer should feel they’re in good hands—even if they’re not ready to shake on it just yet.
Pillar #3: Proof
There’s a reason why the Proof comes later in the PPPO pudding.
Flooding readers with data from the outset will prematurely overwhelm your customer, diverting attention away from their challenges and turning the focus on you (it’s also a recipe for losing your voice in the marketing echo chamber we’ve all gone numb to).
A blitz of data and success stories may be convincing, but they aren’t compelling—so save them for deeper layers in your marketing funnel.
Remember, leading with Pain and Promise makes your consumer feel akin to you, as it keeps the focus on the uniqueness of their situation. When it’s time for Proof, you’ve earned the green light to trot out your portfolio, dial back, and offer some industry perspective.
At the Proof stage, your priorities are to:
- Provide evidence that you’ve done this before—this is not your first rodeo
- Showcase hard data from success stories with past clients to build confidence
- Offer reviews from clients, peers, or customers you’ve worked with
In essence, the most important facet of Proof stage is to showcase your expertise and demonstrate a mastery of your field.
By presenting a concrete body of data to your client, you’ll also reinforce the ideas you seeded in the Pain and Promise stages: that it is possible to bounce back from or solve the challenges they face, and that your company has already set the precedent for overcoming them.
Pillar #4: Opportunity
Many marketers will tell you that the final stage of PPPO used to start with a “P.” That final letter used to stand for “Proposal”—but, to us, proposals can undermine the ultimate purpose of a sales initiative or marketing campaign. Here’s why.
You’ve just spent the last three P’s sowing the seeds for a relationship that’s just coming into bloom—is it in either of your interests to nip it in the bud by making them an offer they can (and maybe will) refuse?
“Proposal” smacks of sales-iness.
If you reduce your budding relationship to nuts, bolts, and bottom lines, it’s far too easy for your customer to forget the vision you’ve both been building together. Opportunity is different. To that end, your final objective is to leave your customer with an indelible impression of the opportunity they’ll have by working with you or purchasing your products.
At the Opportunity stage, your task is to:
- Skip the one-way pitch and invite engagement instead (no “BUY NOW” buttons, please)
- Demonstrate a sincere investment in their best interests
- Let them know you’re at the ready to answer any and all questions they may have
Think of it this way: your customer is at the threshold of embarking on a promising partnership. At the Opportunity phase, your job is to keep the door open, the lights on, and let them know you’re always there to welcome them back.
If the other pillars have been acted upon, they’ll walk into the room on their own.
PPPO, Big Picture Content Marketing, and Farotech
The buyer’s journey moves through three stages every marketer is familiar with: awareness, consideration, and decision. Throughout this process, companies do everything in their power to pitch their unique value propositions, entice a decision, and make a sale.
However, the PPPO formula aims to omit the need for a sales pitch altogether.
Whether you’re retooling your website’s architecture or warming up that cold outreach campaign running in the background, integrating PPPO isn’t just about steering a prospect towards the finish line. It’s about being your consumers’ ally, offering perspective on their problem, and helping them see how it fits into the broader picture: interpersonally, professionally, and within their industry.
For more strategy on how that complex jigsaw of web design, SEO, and content marketing fit together, drop us a line. The team at Farotech can apply the PPPO methodology to every piece of content you generate.