Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Just One More Thing: The Columbo Approach to Content Marketing

 "Just one more thing...." If you can't read that phrase without hearing it in Peter Falk's voice, then you're probably one of the countless fans of the classic detective series Columbo. This show, which originated as a stage/TV play entitled "Prescription: Murder," was a huge hit throughout the 1970s and continues to attract a mix of old and new viewers. They hey to that attraction lay in the show's hero, a rumbled-looking cop who never seemed to have his act together -- lulling his too-smart-for-their-own good adversaries into a false sense of security before finally pulling all the clues together and arresting them for murder. In the midst of his feigned disorganization and confusion, Columbo would throw out little questions and insights here and there -- "just one more thing" at a time, with those bits and pieces snowballing their way toward an inevitable conclusion.

Successful content marketing often takes this same basic approach. Take your typical email drip campaign. You might start out with a series of cold email messages aimed at a specific target audience, each email offering a casual, brief, breezy combination of greetings and eye-catching details about your product or service. "Hey, I know you're busy, but I just wanted to share a fun fact with you." Share enough of these fun facts, spread out over enough email messages, and you've started to put together a pretty compelling case for your business.

If you've got prospects opting in to learn more about your company, that's another audience entirely. So you also create a series of warm emails that go into greater depth and detail, since you already know that these folks have shown an interest in learning more. Each email might tackle a different product, service, common customer objection, or success story illustrating how you helped another individual or organization with similar needs. This would be the equivalent of Columbo explaining his concerns or discoveries with that exasperated bad guy who desperately wants to know just how much this detective has on the ball, or who throws out various reasons why Columbo might be on the wrong track. The preponderance of supporting detail really matters here. This is the stage where you start including links to longer articles, cut sheets, technical specifications, case studies et cetera.

It's worth noting that this approach doesn't limit itself to email campaigns. The "one more thing" technique can also work well whether you're sending out a series of direct mail postcards, sales letters, or other marketing touches. In a somewhat different form, it also pays off when creating inbound marketing content. For instance, the top pages of your website may focus on sizzle, teasing visitors to dive into supporting pages that provide in-depth information. The deeper they dive, the more they learn -- and the more likely they are to buy.

You don't have to be a master detective to benefit from a master detective's methods. Columbo may be a fictional character, but his "one more thing" approach can yield very real benefits as a content marketing strategy. If you want to make sure you're dropping just the right details in just the right sequence, contact a professional copywriter to put that messaging together for you. Case solved!