How to use the 80/20 rule to delight your audience

You can’t be all sales, all of the time.

If talking to you is the equivalent of trying to have a heart-to-heart with a market seller whose bellowing about chillies; people are going to unfollow you really fast. Even if they are your dream customers, and they really needed those chillies.

Chillies on a market in Bali. They made the MOST DELICIOUS Babi Guling!

Chillies on a market in Bali. They made the MOST DELICIOUS Babi Guling!

Why? We tune out things we think are selling to us. Most people don’t watch TV ads - they make a drink, or play with their phones. Spot a Facebook ad that looks like an ad? You’re scrolling straight past. Your inbox? Your brain manually filters away 99% of the emails in there.

So how do you stand out and make sales?

The 80/20 rule is a good place to start - but it’s commonly misunderstood. The rule means that just 20% of your content should be sales content, and 80% should be about something else. But, before you race off and post about National Donut Day, hold up. The 80% shouldn’t be about just anything else. After all, it’s still your business, your brand, and you still want to be attracting the right people with it. Nobody is attracting the right people by posting about anything that crosses their mind just to fill 80% of their content calendar.

That’s why I’ve modernised the rule. The new rule?

80% of your content should be helpful. 20% should be sales.

Let’s use a boudoir photographer client of mine as an example.

80% of her content is things that are relevant to her brand, but aren’t selling her photoshoots. She talks about preparing for a boudoir shoot, behind the scenes at a shoot, how to tastefully display your photos, how to choose a photographer, ideas of what to wear. She might throw in some content around lingerie that was in the news; or National Lingerie Day (which should definitely be a thing, if it’s not already!) - but she’s not posting about National Margarita Day, or her dog visiting her in the office, or Debenhams going into administration. The remaining 20% of her content is about her photoshoots, how to book, her testimonials and sharing photos she took. Make sense?

What if you’re a mindset coach?

80% of your content then should be around things that would genuinely help your audience out. What do they need to know? You could talk about procrastination, self-doubt, techniques to reset your mindset, new techniques. You could share a mantra of the day for a range of different audiences, via text or video. Then 20% of your content is around how people buy from you - your testimonials, your packages.

It is, admittedly, harder than loading up Promo Republic or one of the tools designed to give you plug-in-and-play content that can be used by anyone, in any industry. And I’m always going to be celebrating National Donut Day! But it gives you a way to really add value to your audience, to build your connections with them and help them to know, like and trust you - which in turn will make them more likely to buy from you. Irrelevant content runs the risk of feeling like spam, getting you unfollowed or attracting the wrong crowd, all of which cause problems.

Take a look at the content you’ve posted over the last week or two; and work out how much was genuinely helpful, and how much was sales-orientated. What’s your ratio looking like right now?

Katy Elle Blake