In yesterday’s lesson, we prepared everything we need for Sales Safari. Even if you already have dozens of content ideas after this week’s lessons, Sales Safari will help you validate your ideas and learn the language of your audience.
In today’s lesson, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty details of picking a channel and wringing content ideas out of it.
Here’s how this lesson is structured:
- How to pick conversations to study.
- What to take notes on when reading conversations.
- What to do with your notes after a Safari.
Let’s start with how to pick interesting topics:
Watering hole found? Let’s find a conversation to study
Yesterday, we worked on a list of online “watering holes” where our audience hangs out. Now, we’re going to pick one and study it.
When I study a community for content ideas, I first like to get a lay of the land. Preferably, I’m doing Sales Safari in a community I’m already an active part of. But even then, I take 10-15 minutes to read the titles of the top conversations and note down a word that describes each best.
By writing down the topics, you get a sense of what’s popular. If you see a keyword pop up multiple times, you tally it. Here’s a screenshot from a Sales Safari demo by Amy Hoy (see the “Further learning” section at the end of this lesson for the link):
After this first round of skimming and writing down the top threads, organize the topics by frequency in which they appeared.
Now that you know the most popular topic overall, open the top threads about it in separate browser tabs and start reading.
At this point, the note-taking gets a lot more detailed:
Take notes on pains, jargon, and recommendations
So once you’ve located some juicy threads to study, what should you pay attention to?
Amy and Alex recommend that we focus on three things:
Here’s what each means:
Pain is whatever is causing people anxiety, stress, fear, uncertainty, guilt, frustration, etc. These are often experienced as something that people need to solve.
But there are also pains that people want to solve. For example, to save time, earn more money, or do things hassle-free. These are not life-or-death situations, but still often experienced as pain.
Jargon is whatever words and expressions people use to describe their needs and wants. Every community has its own vocabulary. Not only does jargon make it easier for community members to communicate about shared ideas and beliefs, but it also signals people are part of the “in-group.”
If you want people to resonate with what you teach, you need to speak their language. That’s why being part of the communities where you go on Safari is important. But even then, you should note what exact words people use to describe their problems, as this will help you in your answer (content) and your marketing around it.
Recommendations are whatever solution people discuss in an online watering hole. This can be products or techniques to use or to avoid at all costs.
Taking notes on what people recommend is incredibly useful. Not only will you discover if it’s worth creating an answer for this question, but you’ll also see what your competition is in the field. If there are no great answers to the same type of question, you know you’ve hit something worth creating content about.
Here’s a handy template I picked up from Egghead (see yesterday’s “Further learning” section) that we can use for each Safari:
And here are some guiding questions for your Sales Safari, taken from the book Solving Product (see the “Further learning” section at the end of this lesson):
- What are they afraid of?
- What skills do they need to learn or get better at?
- What are some of the repetitive tasks they have to do repeatedly?
- What do they avoid doing that they really should be doing?
- Where does their money come from?
- How can they increase that type of revenue?
- What’s inefficient or costly?
- How can they find new customers or markets?
- How could they start charging more?
If you try to answer questions like these during your Sales Safari, you’ll likely have more content ideas than you can fully flesh out.
What to do with Sales Safari notes
Now that you’ve seen what pains people are experiencing in your online circle let’s use that information for good.
The goal of Sales Safari is to create what Amy and Alex call “ebombs.” This is shorthand for educational content marketing, which we’re doing here (but in the form of email).
The simplest way to get started is to see in your notes what questions people keep asking over and over.
Chances are (if you’re an expert), you know the answer to the most frequently asked questions as beginners often ask these. And even if you don’t know the answer, you’ve probably found recommendations during your Safari that you can curate into a helpful resource.
How to design a resource or learning experience is the topic of next week’s course. If you want to see some great examples of ebombs, I recommend you check out this lesson’s “Further learning” section.
Recap and what's next
That’s it for today and this week! Here’s what we’ve covered in this lesson:
- How to pick conversations to study. After creating a list of online watering holes your audience hangs out, you should choose the most promising one and scan the top discussions. Take notes on what’s discussed most, and pick a few topics for deeper reading.
- What to take notes on when reading conversations. When you see which topics are getting the most engagement, open up a few top ones and take notes. Record people’s pains, the words they use to describe them, and what they’ve already tried. With this information, ideas will start to flow.
- What to do with your notes after a Safari. The end goal of Sales Safari is to discover what products your audience wants to buy. But at this stage, the best investment you can make is creating valuable free content and testing if it resonates with people.
Now, let’s go on Safari:
Prompt: What question are you going to answer?
It’s time to prepare that first ebomb. This could be a post on social media, an edition of your email newsletter, or even an entire email course. Whatever you’re going to create, first you need to pick one thing you’re going to write about.
Today’s prompt will help you while doing Sales Safari:
What question do I see repeatedly but not the answer to?
Online watering holes are full of new questions and answers every day. But what do you see asked repeatedly, but nobody is giving a great answer to? That would make an excellent topic for an educational content piece.
As always, please take a moment to write about this question and share it as a comment or directly with me via email. I’m always happy to give feedback or answer your questions.
I hope to read from you!
How to Find New Product Opportunities with a Sales Safari
(3 minutes reading time)
This outtake from the book Solving Product (highly recommended) gives a quick overview of how to do Sales Safari. It also provides some questions you can ask yourself during a Safari (I’ve already mentioned a few in this lesson), which will help you find the community questions worth answering.
The Ebomb Recipe That Works
(11 minutes viewing time)
At the end of the page I link to here, you’ll find a video chockfull of examples of ebombs, serving as a handy “swipe file” if you need inspiration on what kind of helpful (free or paid) content to create. This overview of ebomb categories is also useful to keep in your swipe file:
Amy Hoy - Sales Safari Demo - La Conf Paris 2013
(50 minutes viewing time, but the demo is from 14:00 to 33:00)
This is the same video I linked to yesterday. Even though it’s ten years old, it’s as relevant as ever. Amy Hoy shows everything we need to study an online watering for endless content ideas. Watch it to understand better what we’ve been talking about and how Sales Safari differs from user interviewing (part of Q&A, starting around minute 34).