Have you ever opted in for a document on a website, and the next thing you know, you’re getting an email or a phone call from someone asking to set up a meeting with you?

Annoying, isn’t it? Just because you had a passing interest in something offered and opted in to get it doesn’t mean you’re ready to buy, does it? It doesn’t mean you made it all the way through to identifying that you need help to solve a problem or address an issue, right? It just means you’re looking for ideas… and that’s it.

Or maybe you’ve gotten that download and it’s so long and involved, telling you everything from A to Z about a topic? And it’s SOOOOO long, you just save it in a folder on your hard drive, or maybe you print it out and add it to the stack of things to read… someday. (Confession: I’m guilty of that one! I had a desk drawer full of interesting documents that I just knew I would need one day.)

How about an interesting blog post that ends with some sort of “set a meeting” call to action? Or worse yet, a blog post that’s actually a thinly-veiled sales pitch (in some cases not so thinly-veiled at all) for a product or service? I remember one distinctly, where the post was talking about something in which I was interested, but rather than any sort of conclusion to the story, the last paragraph invited me to set a meeting to explore solutions if I was having the same issue. UGH.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

The job of your content is NOT to jump people right to the bottom of the funnel. It is NOT to sell, sell, sell. People do not like to be sold. They will, however, buy when they are ready to buy. The job of your content is to make it easy for them to make a buying decision WHEN THEY ARE READY TO DO SO.

Which actually means that the job of your content is to INFORM – and you inform people in order to CAPTIVATE them.

That’s right – CAPTIVATE.

When you captivate people, you earn their trust, establish your authority, and LEAD people through their journey to solving their issue, addressing a frustration, or opening an opportunity.

And the way you do that is… (drumroll please) …

One inch at a time.

Is this a blog post about everything to do with effective marketing? Of course not! We’re dealing only with one inch – how you can make content more effective for the people who consume it. That’s all. If you like this post, you’ll likely go poking around for other posts that speak to you – so you can gather ideas and perhaps modify how you’ve been creating content based on what you find.

Here’s the thing you need to remember about your OWN stuff. Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – you write in a blog post or offer in a downloadable document can possibly replace the years of expertise you have in solving the problem that you solve. Some people will read your content and use it to do their own thing. That’s great. You’ve made the world a better place. Others, however, will recognize your authority and decide that maybe YOU are the person or company that can solve the problem they are having.

I’ve proven this. I remember years ago, when I was doing marketing for an IT consulting firm. We had a team of five people who specialized in a certain type of technology deployment. When I suggested we do monthly meetings with clients and potential clients about specific areas of that technology, the leader of the group pushed back on me. He said “But if we tell people what we know, they won’t need to hire us to do it.” I said the same thing to him that I just said to you (ish) – “Chris, two hours in a meeting is not going to give anyone the expertise that this team has.”

Fortunately, he listened, and in less than one year, we had taken that team from 5 people to 24 people and into a multi-million dollar revenue stream for the business.

All because we helped people – took them one inch along the way in each monthly meeting, built trust, and showcased the experience of that team.

So tell the stories, share the issues, solve the problems.

How can you take someone ONE INCH along their journey to becoming your customer? What content can you create that will help them with ONE PIECE of their particular puzzle?

Imagine that you help women with chronic fatigue, and you know that the food they eat could be one contributing factor. Could you develop a simple document they could download: “5 Foods That Make You Tired”? Or a blog post that tells the story of someone with a very carb-heavy diet who changed their eating habits and got their energy back? Of course! One inch at a time, see? (And the next inch could be content about hydration, or exercise, or mental health, or… see what I mean?)

Or imagine that you sell lawn care equipment. You could have content that talks about small yards, other content about big yards, content about equipment care, content about winterizing, content about what to look for when purchasing (like a checklist)… and so on. You don’t need to develop the be-all, end-all guide to everything about lawn care equipment, right? One inch at a time.

No matter your business or your audience, focus your content on moving people one inch along their journey – not the whole journey in one fell swoop.

One inch has its advantages.

When you use the one-inch rule, you get tremendous advantages.

You get to “listen” to your leads and respond to their interests by tracking what they read and what documents they opt-in to download from you. You can deepen a conversation with follow-up content – new blog posts or new downloads – but only when you see that a particular area has captured enough interest to make it worth your time to do so.

You become the guide – the trusted authority – the guru of this particular subject area.

The people on your list will feel like you are treating them with respect when you’re not always “set a meeting” and “make an appointment” – when you are GIVING valuable information that they can use to make their decisions.

And you’ll sell more as a result.