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In Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition, Michael Stelzner dismisses traditional marketing messages and pushes the concept of success through giving the gift of great content.
Stelzner believes people want valuable insight, access to great people and recognition – before they want products and services. Therefore, building trust with your potential customer is more important than your products and services.
Read on to discover Stelzner’s prescription for growing and marketing your business without employing traditional marketing tactics. He walks the reader through the step-by-step process of growing a business through generosity and cultivation of great content.
1. The Elevation Principle and a Simple Equation
Launch is based on something Stelzner calls the Elevation Principle. Simply put, this principle is the process of meeting the core desires of prospects and customers by helping them solve their basic problems AT NO COST.
Gifting your prospects with free information, you will earn their trust and they will have a higher likelihood of considering you when they are ready to make a purchase.
This strategy requires business owners and marketers to rely less on marketing messages that only drive sales. Instead, they are asked to generously solve the problems of their potential customers without asking for anything in return by creating valuable content.
This is great news for content creators, like myself, who thrive on producing articles that educate their reader base. However, it’s far too easy to get lost in all that content and forget WHO you’re writing for and WHY. Stelzner lays out a detailed plan to help leverage the value of great content in order to grow your business.
If you aren’t currently in the business of creating content and question the value of giving away something for free – READ THIS BOOK. Stelzner clearly and concisely lays out a solid argument for ditching marketing messages in favor of a strategy based upon his ‘elevation principle.’ He outlines case studies that prove his point and should put to rest worries about investing in great content.
In its simplest form, this theory looks like this:
Great content + other people – marketing message = growth
2. Your Flight Path to ‘Out of this World’ Results
Using the metaphor of a rocket ship maneuvering through space, Stelzner helps the reader navigate a solid flight path.
Once you’ve decided to employ the elevation principle, it’s time to refine your ‘vision statement.’ A vision statement is ‘a sentence or 2 that helps keep you focused during moments of uncertainty.’ It should answer the question: Where do I ultimately want my business to be?’
Your vision statement is something that will help you make decisions and ensure you’re staying on course. It’s not recommended that you rush this part of the process, but work to truly uncover what it is you want out of your business.
After your vision statement has been completed, it’s time to set those SMART goals we’ve all heard so much about.
- Time-bound (put them on the calendar)
Stelzner does an excellent job at walking the reader through some examples of setting goals based on a vision statement. He recommends setting up ‘markers’ or key accomplishments that will guide your business along its path to success.
3. Inspiration Comes in Many Forms and Can Be Fleeting
Stelzner advises finding inspirational role models that inspire you to take your business to new places. These can be individual competitors, brands or any entity that has engaged you with its content.
Inspirational and engaging content gives you ideas for your own business and these ideas need to be captured.
Enter the Idea Vault.
An idea vault creates a place where ideas live and can be easily fetched. Recommended tools to help you capture your ideas include:
- Bookmark sites, delicious, etc.
- Email folders
- Store on desktop – create folder of PDF’s
- Physical folders
4. Secret Sauce = Solving Your Readers’ Problems
Solving your prospects’ problems without asking for anything in return will establish trust and make them LOVE you. Solving their basic problems is an easy concept to understand, but I would argue VERY few businesses actually put this into practice.
The first question to be answered is WHO are you trying to reach? The more targeted your answer, the easier it is to create valuable content relevant to that group.
Stelzner lays out detailed information on how to build a profile for your ideal ‘people’ base. He advises considering the following when determining your ideal base:
Industry focus – Does it make sense to target people in a specific industry?
Topical interests – Does it make sense to focus on a few specific topics? (Make sure they have longevity.)
Job title and function – Decide what is the most likely title for your target
Company size – How big is the company size of your target and how are you quantifying size? Employees, revenue, etc.
Geography – Should you focus on people in a particular location?
He then takes it a step further and asks you to answer the following questions:
- What problems are they facing? Make a list.
- What is the nature of who you’re trying to reach? (Busy? Seeking new ideas?Skeptical?)
- How familiar are they with my topic?
- What are the desires of my user base? What do they really want?
Once you have created a comprehensive persona or two, you can begin to actually visualize this person and truly uncover how to best meet their needs with your content.
5. Content! Content! Content!
It’s all about content. But not just any content, ENGAGING, COMPELLING, OUTSTANDING content. So how you do you define GREAT content? It should include these essential elements:
- Highly relevant
- Easy to digest
- Visually appealing
- Lacks a sales angle
Stelzner suggests creating an editorial guide and an editorial calendar to help keep you publishing content regularly. An editorial guide should outline the following:
- For whom are you writing?
- Length of content
- Layout and formatting considerations
- Publish strongest content on days you have the most readers
- Look for variety in categories over the week/month
- Space out multiple authors
- Be flexible
Along with these solid tips, working examples are provided to the reader and make creating these important assets fairly painless.
6. Primary Fuel vs. Nuclear Fuel
Getting specific about the content you’ll want to publish, Stelzner categorizes your content into two types: Primary and Nuclear.
Primary fuel is regularly published, free content that meets the needs of your reader base. The goal of your primary fuel is to help your readers solve their problems so they will become raving fans.
Stelzner advises that the lifespan of primary fuel is about three days. The types of primary fuel include:
- How-to articles
- Expert interviews
- News stories
- Case studies
- Contrarian stories
Nuclear fuel is carefully designed content that has a lasting impact on significant numbers of your ideal reader base and possibly experts.
This type of content has a lifespan easily exceeding that of primary fuel. It can sometimes be relevant for years. Nuclear fuel should always be free and includes:
- Reports based on surveys
- White papers
- Top 10 contests
- Micro events (webinars, videos, podcasts)
7. Cage Your Marketing Messages, Be Generous and Your Business Will Grow
The insights and advice I have outlined from Stelzner’s book are simply a launching pad for growing your business. If you’re looking to make the complete journey, invest in a copy and read it for yourself. It’s the type of book you’ll find yourself going back to throughout the process of growing a successful business.
Some may find it difficult to swallow the bitter pill that marketing messages no longer work and need to be scrapped. However, I have experienced how sales-driven content will bring community activity and growth to a screeching halt.
Today’s landscape requires a different methodology and a paradigm shift away from TAKING to GIVING. I think we can all agree that we admire those who are generous. It’s time to apply that important principle to business.