How to win readers and influence people

Dale Carnegie may have died more than half a century ago, but the influence of his most popular book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, lives on to this day. Penned in 1936, the book has sold some 15 million copies around the world, and its straightforward, optimistic approach holds valuable lessons for content marketers too.

Even glancing at some of the book’s chapter headings will help guide you in the content you create. So here’s how to win readers and influence people with content:

1. Don’t criticise, condemn, or complain

It may be tempting to fill your content with potshots, side-swipes and roundhouses aimed at your competition. But that would be foolish. The point of content marketing is to educate your audience in issues that they are concerned about, offering useful advice and information. Slagging off the opposition won’t achieve this as your readers, who are potential customers, will simply discount you as biased. Instead, treat them as rational human beings who appreciate making their own minds up, and who may even appreciate you praising competitors.

2. Become genuinely interested in other people

Apply this rule in your social media marketing. If you’ve spent all day writing an article on, for instance, the virtues of using an accountant for completing a tax return, you probably don’t want to spend another three hours pushing it on social media. But this thinking is flawed. Social media is part of the content-creation process, and the you will maximise the potency of your content by engaging with your readers on social media. This doesn’t simply mean creating links to your work, but engaging in two-way dialogue about the issues and concerns that people have in your relevant fields.

3. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest

Much of what should guide content is finding out what people are interested in reading. So, for instance, people interested in hiring an accountant for that personal tax return will want to read about what sorts of receipts count as legitimate expenses rather than the interstices of tax law. Keep your content relevant to the reader, and if possible, hire a copywriter to give you a fresh perspective and new ideas for content.

4. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely

Ever put pen to paper and find yourself starting sentences with terms like “obviously” and “of course”? If so, you might be at risk of wasting your reader’s time, energy and, of course, patience. Although Google might rank your business higher in its search results if you update your site regularly with content, that content needs to engage. And part of making your readers feel important lies is in investing in content that stands out from what your competitors are publishing by being new, relevant, sometimes quirky and always interesting.

5. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves

If, in your business, you get a great deal of customer feedback, ask whether you can use this data in your content. Supposing, then, that you operate a massage parlour and find out that a lot of your customers experience back pain as a result from work-related stress. Is there an opportunity to use this as a source of content? Yes. Not only will articles on, for instance, reducing stress throughout the working day and tips on home massage address your clients’ needs, they may even make your business more visible when general readers search for such things on the web. But if you don’t listen to your clients or readers, you will never have such insights in the first place.

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