by Juan Robin II
I’ve got good news and bad news for you
First, the bad news. Brace yourself…
No one wants to read your content, hear your advice, join your email list, or buy your products (but there’s still hope for you as will be revealed in minute).
No matter how much effort you put into marketing and creating the best products available, nobody cares .
Unless you’re an expert (or make them believe you’re smarter than them…we’re getting close to the secret now).
People crave great content and actionable advice.
But not from everybody.
They want to hear it from the experts, the people who they think are smarter than them, the ones who know it all, the masters, the gurus, the niche leaders.
Already losing hope? Don’t!
Because here’s the good news
It’s not as difficult to become a smart marketer as you think.
In fact, it’s pretty straight forward (as you’ll see later in the post)
You don’t need to be a genius, a rocket scientist, or someone with a bigger brain than Einstein.
Heck, you don’t even need to become a so-called expert (even though people might think you are)
You can be among the top 1% marketers of your niche in a matter of
years, months, weeks.
How do you become smarter than most of your target audience and competitors?
How do you gain enough knowledge about your niche to sound like an authority?
How do you use that authority to become a smarter marketer, craft more convincing marketing messages, and drive more sales?
And most importantly, how do you make this happen quickly?
I’ll be answering all those questions in this post.
What You’ll Learn In This Post
- How to develop expertise using a proven hack
- The thing that differentiates smart marketers from the average ones
- How to evoke emotions in your readers to drive action
- Things you can learn from 100 year old marketing experts
1. Uncover the Real Needs and Wants of Your Target Audience
Niche marketers make money by promoting products that solve the problems of their target audience.
Which means that before starting a single promotional activity, or even before selecting a product to promote, you must know the actual needs of your audience.
The best marketers know their customers better than anyone which gives them the right insights to create valuable content and offer solutions that people buy without blinking an eye.
You need to do the same to make people take action.
Think about it.
Why should complete strangers hand you their hard-earned money?
Unless, of course, you can show them that you have a deep understanding of their problems, know the complete range of emotions they go through and care about making their lives better.
For this, you need to dig deep and understand the real fears, needs, wants, hopes, and aspirations of your audience.
Here are a few ways to do it.
Ask the Right Questions To Discover the Real Needs of Your Audience
Stop assuming things because that’s what all failed marketers do.
Put your own beliefs aside and ask deeper questions to uncover things about your audience you’ve never known before.
Here are examples of the different questions you can ask to uncover the hidden needs of your audience.
Pains and Problems
Status Aspiration (Power, Prestige, or Possessions)
Wants and Desires
You won’t answer these questions based on your beliefs.
Instead, you’ll use the right tools and platforms (which I’ll discuss in a moment) to study your prospects and find the answers you need.
Once you have them, you’ll know exactly what points to target in your marketing message, what problems to solve with your product, and how to convince people to buy from you.
Find the Most Common Questions With AnswerThePublic
AnswerThePublic is a super useful tool that gives you the list of all the questions your prospects are asking about a topic on search engines.
Knowing those questions will tell you exactly what’s bothering your audience the most.
Look at the screenshots below to see how you can use this tool…
Visit AnswerThePublic and search for your main topic keyword.
Look at this image below closely…
The tool will give you dozens of questions, fetched from the search queries related to your topic, that people are asking.
These questions are actually answers to the questions you identified in the previous point.
Questions, answers, questions – it’s confusing, I know.
But if it were easy, everyone would do it.
Listen to Your Audience on Forums and Q&A Sites
Forums and Q&A sites are where people share their problems, cry their hearts out, and beg for solutions.
Listen to them, understand what they want, and find the answers to your questions.
First up, head over to Quora, the best Q&A site in the world.
The image below shows how you can search for your topic on it, look at this…
Quora has hundreds of thousands of threads on every topic under the sun.
Search for your topic and explore the top threads to understand things from your audience’s perspective.
Then there’s another massive social network+forum where you’ll find golden insights. Check out this image below on how to use it…
Reddit is a research goldmine for marketers.
For example, if your niche is about a hobby and you’re researching why people love it, do a simple search on Reddit.
You’ll find countless threads discussing all the different aspects of your hobby and why people love/hate it.
Next, use Google Search to find different forums on your topic.
In the screenshot below, I used a simple query to find dozens of hidden forums. Check it out…
You can find any niche specific forums using the following search queries on Google.
[Niche Keyword] + Forum
[Niche Keyword] + vbulletin
[Niche Keyword] + discussion
If you still can’t find the forums you’re looking for, use FindaForum.net, a dedicated search engine for forum sites.
Forums offer amazing insights about your audience’s pain points, so don’t be afraid to spend a few hours exploring different discussion threads.
Use Emotional Searches to Find What Your Audience Craves
Google Search is your window to the internet.
Here’s how you can use it to find how your audience feels about a topic
Look at this search query closely and see the angle I’ve used in this image below…
The search query “I hate depression because” results in several sites where people are actually describing why they hate depression so much, how it has damaged their lives, and how they wish they could change their condition.
These are desperate people looking for help and they’d gladly pay anyone who can help them feel better.
You can find such people in every niche by simply using the same search style – “I hate [niche] because”
You can use several other search queries to uncover similar audiences.
“I love [niche] because”
“[Niche] has ruined my life”
” I wish [Niche]”
You get the point, right?
Here’s one of those search queries in a different niche, check how powerful this search is by studying the image below…
The first result is a forum post.
Look at this image taking from the forum post, it’s a result filled with emotion and pain…
This post shows you the full range of emotions an acne patient goes through.
Can you feel the sadness, the desperation, the regret in his words?
If you’re promoting anti-acne products, does it tell you how your audience feels?
Here’s another trick.
Use different tenses with your niche keyword and see what Google autocomplete shows.
I’ve created some screenshots to describe this better. Have a look at the keywords I’ve searched and the autocomplete results that Google shows below…
These are real search queries by real people. When you search any of them, you’ll find so many different first-hand accounts of people suffering from depression and the reasons why they hate it and how they want things to change for them.
All of this is gold for you because you can use these insights to understand the actual pain and fears of your prospects and use it to create a high impact marketing strategy.
Use Related Keywords To Understand Your Audience
There’s a super useful Chrome extension that’ll tell you a ton about your audience.
It’s called Keywords Everywhere.
Here’s what it does.
When you search for something on Google, this Chrome extension tells you the top related keywords and the other keywords the same people are searching for.
It also shows you the monthly search volume and competition of those keywords.
How does this help you?
It shows you other closely related queries that can uncover more details about your prospects.
All these methods will help you find answers to the questions we identified earlier in the post and help you understand your ideal customer’s state of mind.
But guess what.
There are even more methods you can use to dig even deeper.
You can find them all in NicheHacks Insider.
Now that you know the problems of your audience in detail, you need to offer them actionable advice they can use to make their situation better.
But what if you don’t know enough about your niche?
No problem, I’ve shared the solution in the next point.
2. Go Beyond Surface Level Knowledge of Your Niche
Anyone can create vague content that generally describes a topic and shares the same old advice everyone else is giving.
But doing so won’t win you any customers.
To become the go-to source of information for your audience, you must go beyond surface level knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of your niche.
Unless you understand the core concepts of your niche, your marketing campaign would struggle to make an impact on your audience.
I’m not asking you to become a technical expert.
But by following the tips that I’m about to share, you can easily become more knowledgeable about your topic than most of your competitors and almost all of your prospects.
And that will be enough for you to create value for your audience and turn them into subscribers and customers.
Here’s how you can do it.
Read the Best 3 Books on Your Topic
In his famous book The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris shares this theory that if you read 3 books on a topic from different authors, you’ll become more knowledgable about it than 99% of people you know.
It’s a bold claim but it makes sense.
Tim’s not saying you’ll become an expert surgeon by reading 3 books on surgery. But you will gain more theoretical knowledge of surgery than most people (other than professional surgeons of course).
So following that same principle, you can become more knowledgable than your competitors and your prospects by reading the top 3 best selling books on your topic.
Just search Google to find them, like I’ve done in the image below…
A simple search query like “best books on [Topic]” should give you lots of great books to choose from.
But if you can’t decide which ones to read, simply head over to Amazon and search for the top rated books on your topic, check out how I’ve done it in the search below…
Sort the search results by Ave. Customer Reviews to find the top-rated books on your topic.
If you’re in a highly technical niche, try choosing books that are designed for beginners and non-technical people so that you can absorb as much of the content as possible.
Don’t try to rush this step.
Take your time and understand the concepts shared in the books you choose.
Once you’re finished reading them, you’ll be way ahead of most people in your niche.
But there’s one problem with books.
In some industries, they can become outdated very quickly.
Fortunately, there’s another way to keep yourself updated with the latest information on your topic.
I describe it in the next point.
Follow the Top Blogs in Your Niche
Why reinvent the wheel when your competitors are already doing all the hard work for you?
By following the top blogs and content creators in your niche, you can learn a ton about your topic, your audience, and the kind of content that works with them.
Reminds me of the famous saying “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”
Your competitors aren’t enemies, but you get the point, right? Keep a close eye on them to learn from everything they do.
Blogs won’t give you the same level of information as books by renowned authors.
So it’s best to use them in addition to the books you read.
They will, however, help you understand your topic in smaller chunks of information.
Here are a few things that you need to learn from your competing blogs.
– What topics do they talk about the most
– What topics on their site get the most engagement (shares, comments, backlinks)
– What jargon and industry-specific terminologies all of your competitors use?
– What tools do they recommend and use?
– What products are they promoting?
– What’s the structure of their content (length, visual/text, tone of voice etc.)?
Finding the best blogs in your niche is easy.
Once again, Google is your best friend. Look at this…
Searching any of your main topic keywords will give you the best sites in your niche because the biggest authority sites are well-optimized for their main keywords.
If you’re using the Chrome extension “Keywords Everywhere” that I mentioned earlier, you will also see a list of related keywords with their search volumes. Search for the highest volume keywords to find more authority sites in your niche.
Or you could run an even simpler search query to find the best blogs, study this image below to see how to do it…
And last but not the least, you can find the most popular blog posts in your niche (often by the most popular blogs) by searching for your topic on BuzzSumo
Once you have a list of 10-12 blogs, subscribe to their mailing lists and read their most popular posts to develop a deeper understanding of your topic.
But what if you have a full-time job and don’t get the time to read blogs?
Well, there’s another way (which I describe in the next point)
Listen to the Top 3 Podcasts on Your Topic
What’s better than learning everything you need to know about a topic while driving to work or during your evening walk?
That’s what relevant podcasts can do for you.
In case you didn’t know, podcasts are extremely popular all over the world and especially in the U.S.
Have a look at the screenshot below which shares really interesting stats about podcast listeners in the U.S.
The research states that more than half of the American population has listened to podcasts and many of them do it regularly.
There are so many podcasts that you can find them on any topic you want.
Again, this is in addition to the books you’ve found on your topic.
Okay, now that you have found ways to gain technical knowledge about your niche, it’s time to polish your marketing skills.
Let me describe the process in the next point.
3. Learn Selling from the Best Direct Response Marketers
I’m being Captain Obvious here, but hear me out.
You can’t be a smart marketer unless you have awesome marketing skills.
But choosing the wrong approach to marketing can kill your business even if you’ve researched your audience to the core and understand all the technicalities of your niche.
You’re a niche marketer, not McDonald’s or Coca Cola.
You can’t run TV ads or massive promotional campaigns like those big name brands and just hope for people to come to you. You don’t have the money for it either.
For example, L’Oréal spends $8.3 billion on marketing annually. Johnson & Johnson spends 28% of its total budget on marketing.
Can you compete with that? Of course not, you’re already broke (or living on the edge)
You’re a smart marketer which is why you need to run targeted marketing campaigns by applying the principles of direct response marketing.
What is direct response marketing?
It’s a targeted and controlled marketing approach that aims to drive a specific action/response from your audience (eg, subscribe to your list, buy a trial, avail a discount, etc.) instead of just creating brand awareness. It’s an approach where you make $3 for every $1 spent on marketing and measure everything about your audience to improve and optimize your future campaigns.
It uses different psychological and emotional triggers (more on that shortly) to create urgency and drive people towards a well-defined call to action (CTA)
Here’s a classic example of direct response marketing in action on the internet. There’s a lot you can learn from so pay good attention to this screenshot…
It can be applied using different platforms and tools (eg, Facebook Ads, Google Ads etc.)
The tools might change but direct response marketing itself is nothing new.
In fact, it has been around for hundreds of years and the best marketers have always used it to achieve amazing results.
Here’s an example of a newspaper ad leveraging the same direct response principles. Again, lots to learn from this image.
See, the same marketing approach is the same here as the online ad I shared earlier in this point
I’m telling you this because the next time a fake guru or internet marketing “expert” tries to pitch one of these classic techniques and sell it to you as their “secret strategy” or “loophole” that you can use to magically make people open their wallets and give you their hard-earned money for free, remember this.
There are no secrets to marketing. Not after they’ve been revealed by so many marketers over the years.
You just have to study them.
The core principles have been the same for centuries and they still work.
You can learn all of them by studying just a handful of books on direct response marketing, sales, and copywriting.
Here’s a list of classic marketing books you can choose from.
- Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins (1923)
- The Robert Collier Letter Book by Robert Collier (1931)
- Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy (1963)
- Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples (1982)
- How To Make Millions With Your Ideas by Dan Kennedy (1996)
- The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy (1997)
- Breakthrough Copywriting by David Garfinkel (2007)
- NO B.S. Price Strategy by Dan Kennedy (2011)
- The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert (2013)
- 80/20 Sales & Marketing by Perry Marshal (2013)
- DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson (2015)
- Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson (2017)
- Just Sell The Damn Thing by Doberman Dan (2018)
Following the same 3-book principle I mentioned in the previous point, you can gain more knowledge about direct response marketing by reading just three books from this list.
It’ll teach you the proven techniques of the world’s most successful marketers and how they make people take action with their words.
You already have insight into your audience’s needs and have gained the necessary technical knowledge. Learning these proven marketing methods will take you miles ahead of your competitors.
Don’t fall for temporary gimmicks and instead learn the principles that’ll power your marketing no matter what platform or tool you have.
4. Understand the Basics of Human Psychology To Persuade Your Audience
Marketing is nothing but the art of persuasion.
Successful marketers use their words to persuade people to take action.
They understand human psychology and know how to use different emotions to get people to open their wallets.
Spend a moment looking at the image below and see what you learn about human emotions…
80% of our decisions are based on emotions and how we feel at that moment, not logic and reason.
This explains why landing pages with count downs or emails with words like “Free” or “Discount” still work so well.
They immediately trigger emotions and capture our attention.
If you look at the infographic below, it’ll tell you exactly how emotions are connected with your marketing message, check it out…
Source: Uptick Marketing
The image shows different psychological triggers like Familiarity, Social Proof, Reciprocity, etc. that marketers intentionally use to create more persuasive advertisements, marketing copy, landing pages, etc.
I have discussed many of these triggers in a lot of detail in one of my previous posts on NicheHacks.
To become a skilled marketer, you need to develop at least a basic understanding of human behavior and how our brains respond to different types of content.
Here’s a small example of how it makes your message more persuasive.
One of the core principles of persuasion is to market benefits instead of features. Marketing copy that mainly focuses on the features of a product fails to trigger any emotions in the buyer. As a result, it rarely converts.
Benefit-driven copy, on the other hand, makes people dream about their ideal life and the problems they can avoid. Naturally, the conversion rates soar.
Here’s a demonstration of how to translate features into benefits and problems of your audience. Understanding this is crucial so do spend time thinking about it and applying it to your niche as well.
Look carefully at the image to see how feature becomes benefit becomes problem avoided…
Once you translate your features into benefits and problems, you can use them to polish your marketing copy and make it more persuasive.
Here’s another example of the tricks smart marketers play with their audience.
This is such a great technique and I really want you to look at this closely and see if you can learn anything from it and apply it to your niche marketing strategy. Look carefully at how they focus on the benefits over just features…
What do you think of a review that only sings praises of a product? Must be paid!
You don’t trust it. No one does.
But that doesn’t mean your next review should be a charge sheet against your product.
You can use the blemishing effect to play with the minds of your audience by mentioning one minor negative of your product in a list of positives.
This instantly makes your review or product page more credible.
See, the human brain can be easily deceived.
But psychology is a detailed subject and I’d strongly encourage you to study it if you want to become a better marketer.
Thankfully, all the books I shared in the previous point discuss human psychology as well so you don’t need to do additional learning.
5. Build a Business Around Proven Systems and Data Instead Gimmicks
What if I told you 90% of your niche can be conquered if you do just one thing?
Yes, just one!
Every business decision you take, every new product you create, every marketing campaign you run, and every new blog post you publish should ALWAYS be backed by hardcore data proof and proven case studies.
Ditch your gut feeling and quit guesswork because that’s one of the trademarks of failed marketers.
Don’t publish an article because you LIKE the topic or THINK it’ll work, don’t use a headline because you THINK it’s cool, don’t create a product because you THINK it’s awesome.
Stop caring about what you think.
See what data tells you, what the trends are saying, what’s the ground reality.
Test, test, test.
That’s what separates smart marketers from “fake gurus” and wannabe experts.
The image below shows eye-opening stats on how data-backed decisions can result in business success. Look at these stats…
Sony, one of the biggest brands in the world increased its online sales by 20% because they tested the best banner ads.
Their marketing team didn’t follow the gut feeling and instead trusted data to make their final decision.
This reflects a certain mindset that all successful marketers have.
They use research, solid data trends, a clear understanding of their audience’s needs, and sufficient knowledge of their industry to create low risk and high impact marketing campaigns.
In the internet marketing world, this mindset helps the top marketers create products that are successful even before they’re launched.
Because their businesses are based on proven systems and hardcore research, not some temporary loophole, so-called secret, or short term tactics.
Their decisions are driven by what the data tells them about their customers, not what they want their customers to do.
This famous quote by Steve Jobs, one of the greatest marketing minds, really hits the nail on its head and supports what we advocate here on NicheHacks all the time.
I want you to remember this whenever you’re coming up with new product/niche ideas.
Promoting a product because you like it or because XYZ expert recommends it is a recipe for disaster
You don’t choose a product and then go out looking for people to buy it.
It’s always the other way around.
You find a problem, research the hell out of your audience, determine their needs, wants, fears and aspirations, and then create a product that aligns with all your research.
There’s nothing complex about marketing.
All you need to do is to put the needs of your customers first and use data to make informed decisions.
The rest will take care of itself.
So, What Does a Smart Marketer Look Like?
Fat guy, short height, long hair, big round glasses, and even a bigger brain?
Nah, that’s more like a mad scientist.
As I’ve described in this post, smart marketers are normal people like you and me.
But their content gets shared, their landing pages convert, their products sell like hot cakes, and people thank them after handing them over their money.
What makes them smarter than most of their competitors is that they understand things that most struggling marketers never work out.
Overall we can sum up their traits into the following points.
- They Know Expertise is a Relative Thing
Unlike hesitant, unsure, and unsuccessful marketers, they realize they don’t need to know everything to become experts in their niche.
They describe expertise the way this image does, study it and see how quickly you can go from “know nothing” to “level of required knowledge”…
Source: Sia Mohajer
Expertise is a relative term.
You’re an expert for anyone who doesn’t know a topic as much as you.
In other words, if you want your audience to consider you an expert, you just need to know more than them.
Not everybody, just your audience.
- They’re Lifelong Learners
The more content you share with your audience and the more knowledgable they become, the less they’ll depend on you for information.
And the day they know as much as you, they won’t consider you an expert.
Which means they won’t listen to your advice anymore, won’t buy from you, won’t take you seriously.
Unless you keep upgrading your knowledge level to stay ahead of them all the time.
That’s what smart marketers do.
And this is why they always stay relevant.
- They Play With Emotions
But not in a bad way.
According to Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltsman, 95% of sales are driven by subconscious decisions.
The best marketers understand human psychology and know how to use it to their advantage.
- They Don’t Care What People Think
They care about the needs of their audience.
But they’re not afraid of being judged.
You just can’t make everyone happy (and you shouldn’t even try)
Here’s a good example of how even a well-intentioned email campaign that was giving free value ended up making someone angry.
As I said, you can’t please everyone.
Successful marketers are only concerned about their audience, its needs, and how they can profit by solving them.
Everything else is a distraction.
Are You A Smart Marketer In A World Of Dumbos?
What I’ve told you in this post isn’t rocket science.
But it requires hard work and dedication.
Researching your audience will take time. Reading the best books in your niche will take time. Becoming good at direct response marketing will take time.
It takes time.
And that is why 99% of marketers never bother to do it.
But if you do, you’ll not only become better than them, you’ll find that success isn’t hidden behind secrets, loopholes, gimmicks, and tricks.
It’s a result of following proven systems that have been in place for centuries.
The same marketing principles all the great marketers have used over the years. The principles the best marketers use even today.
It’s your choice if you want to become one of them or one of the millions of wannabes looking for shortcuts all the time.