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Building inbound marketing on your otherwise static website isn’t hard to do. You start off with creating a content offer that lives behind a form and go from there, adding blogging and email marketing to the mix, and maybe even working in a bit of social media.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting a process to follow to handle that first step. This post is about creating your first content offer. Then, we’ll get into creating forms, calls-to-action, and how to promote, including examples of what to do and what NOT to do.

If at anytime you get stuck and need to bounce an idea off someone, just get in touch and I’ll get you unstuck.

This post is part of my Building Inbound series. To get future posts in your  inbox, click here to subscribe.

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The benefit of having a content offer is two-fold: your visitors get a question answered, or learn more about your industry, and you get their email address for use in future marketing. You can target the content towards where your visitor is in the buying stage, like writing a case study for decision-stage leads or create a simple how-to for the awareness stage. Either way, an email address is the currency of the marketing world.

The types of offers you can create, like the two I just mentioned, are endless. A content offer doesn’t just need to be text on a page; it can be in audio or video form. You can host a live webinar or unlock a longer version of a popular post of yours. So long as it’s content that you want to gate, then it’s perfect for this process. For this post, I’ll be focusing on the most basic form: a downloadable PDF.

Creating your first downloadable offer

As with anything, the first step is brainstorming. In this case, it’s brainstorming a list of ideas for the content offer. It can be a frequently asked question, more information about a new product line, a broad view of your services, or a how-to that your visitors will love. For future content offers, you’ll want to conduct keyword research and look at your analytics to see what would make a hit topic, but for newbies to inbound your instinct is probably right.

Once you have a list of ideas, do some research and narrow it down to one topic. Talk to customers if you can about the topic, as well as sales people and especially support at your own company. If you’re a solo business or just a few folks, talk to others in your industry— y'know, that dreaded thing called networking. Your goal should be to become the expert on the topic and know everything there is to know about it.

In the world we live in now, learning anything about everything is just a few clicks away. All it takes is the curiosity to learn. If your topic is "How to Hire a Repairman," for example, you should not only know the right things to look for when finding a repairman, you should also know what to look out for.

how to create a content offer

Writing and researching can happen simultaneously and the direction of what you’re writing can change as well. The biggest hurdle is really writing the first draft. I would aim for several blog posts worth of content, so 1500 - 2000 words.

The best way to tackle this is to plan an outline for what you want to say. Put yourself in the shoes of your readers. Think about what they need to know and in what order they should learn it. You can’t tell someone to go search online for a repairman if they don’t know what kind of repairman they need. The first draft is going to be a jumping off point— you’ll probably end up changing it quite a bit the first time you create an offer.

With a very rough draft in hand, ask someone else to take a look at it. If you have a favorite customer you talk to regularly, ask them if they’d like to help out. The goal is to have someone else, whether they're inside your company or not, take a look at what you wrote and help knock out the kinks. It’ll probably take a few rounds of this to call it done, but when it is done, you’re going to have an extremely valuable resource for your website that will also serve as a great lead-generating tool.

If you have a graphic designer on call, they can take care of getting the offer into a nice presentation, but honestly formatting it nicely in Word with a first page as a cover works as well. What you want to end up with is a PDF version uploaded to your website somewhere so you can link to it in future steps.

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An email address is the currency of the marketing world.

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