Search engine optimization will drive traffic and boost analytics, but will it close the sale? If content isn’t engaging, it is simply noise. Consumers are savvy. They know the difference between clickbait and substantive content. How you engage your audience and keep them coming back is as important as reaching them.
In a world saturated with messages and a plethora of channels for delivering messages, authenticity and efficacy are your best differentiators. Taking time to listen to your audience and deliver your message in their preferred style, tone, and verbiage is key but it requires finesse. Rather than crafting your message with SEO in mind, take the Dale Carnegie approach and keep your audience’s interests at the forefront. Remember they are tuned to one radio station—WIIFM—what’s in it for me? Like writing, content development is a process. Only after you’ve drafted and edited your content for effectiveness should you go back and tweak with SEO words.
First published in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, remains a classic best seller for anyone who seeks to improve their communication skills personally and professionally. I strongly recommend it to both those who dabble in marketing through their own networking efforts as well as those whose profession revolves around marketing, especially content marketing. The story about how I fell out of favor with a tenured Higher Ed colleague is a case in point.
I had been teaching a 100-level Interpersonal Communication course for several semesters. I approached the subject from a business perspective, for that was my understanding of the purpose of the course and my expertise. With permission from the department dean, I chose to use Dale Carnegie’s signature work along with supplemental writings from a variety of business and self-help authors instead of the college’s recommended textbook, which approached the course from a romantic angle. Another issue I had with the recommended textbook was its length and layout. It had been my experience that a majority of students did not read textbooks, especially voluminous ones. When a tenured professor learned I had not been using the text, she took issue with my decision and created a bit of a brouhaha despite admitting to not having read Carnegie. Ironically, had she been acquainted with the principles in How to Win Friends and Influence People, such intellectual divergence could have enhanced the course or laid the foundation for an additional course on the subject.
Disclaimer: Although I wish I did (and am always open to negotiations), I have no financial interest in Dale Carnegie’s book or the Dale Carnegie program. I am simply a huge fan and have been since taking the High Impact Presentation Course in 2006 and subsequently participating in studies of Dale Carnegie training.
Thirty principles described in How to Win Friends and Influence People are broken into three categories, which themselves are terrific guides for any aspiring professional: Become a Friendlier Person, Win People to Your Way of Thinking, and Be a Leader. The principles can be found in a free download of Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book, but they are best learned through study of his iconic text, which is less than 300 pages, because the challenge is to form habits based on the principles.
Carnegie’s use of relevant examples inspires introspection, conversation, and doable action. When applied to any communication, Carnegie’s methodology is the secret sauce that helps get the intended message to the intended target as intended. This is why I contend it is vitally important that marketers take time to study the book. Apparently, many others agree, as the book remains a bestseller almost a century after it was first published.
Search engine optimization may drive traffic to your website, but your message and how it is delivered will seal the deal. In terms of relationship building and sales, substantive messaging, not SEO, is the key driver. Anything else is just noise.