Ask yourself this question:
Will your potential customers be more likely to buy from you if they are well or poorly informed about your product or service?
Hopefully you answered “well informed.” If you didn’t then this article probably isn’t for you.
If you did, then you recognize that consumers don’t spend money blindly. They spend money when they feel that they are making a good investment. Part of what drives a good investment is knowledge.
Think of buying a house. Most home buyers would never buy a house sight unseen. They want to see pictures of the house. Then visit the house. Then go inside the house. Then go into each room. Then ask questions. Then visit again. Then ask more questions. There is a great deal of knowledge exchanged in a single home sale.
It stands to reason that if you answer questions up front for a potential buyer, then the sales cycle will be shortened. Sometimes the cycle may end in a lost sale, but a short cycle with a lost sale is far less expensive to you than a long cycle with a lost sale.
Websites, email, social media and blogs present an ideal way to answer questions that can minimize the sales cycle and also prequalify your customers. With all of this said, it stuns me each time a businessperson says that they don’t know what to write about. They struggle to come up with content marketing ideas but forget to tap into their most powerful source of content: their customers.
What Are The Essentials?
In general, when you meet a potential customer, they will have a variation of these three questions.
- What do you sell?
- How much does it cost?
- What’s in it for me?
How you answer these questions will influence your sales cycle and whether you close the business or not. These questions apply almost universally.
- What do you sell? I sell duct cleaning.
- How much does it cost? $100.
- What’s in it for me? Cleaner air and fewer allergies.
- What do you sell? Mortgages.
- How much does it cost? $250,000.
- What’s in it for me? We can get you a better interest rate and save you a lot of money.
- What do you sell? Business development coaching
- How much does it cost? $1,000 per month.
- What’s in it for me? You will have a clearer perspective on your business and make more strategic decisions instead of tactical ones.
- What do you sell? Unmanned military drones.
- How much does it cost? $12,548,710.60
- What’s in it for me? Long range tactical strike capability for [redacted] and [redacted] in the event of [redacted].
We had a discussion here about value versus cost. Some of that applies here, but what is more relevant is this…
You Know What To Write About, You Just Don’t Realize It.
Write about what your customers and prospects ask you. More specifically, answer the questions your customers and prospects ask you.
The three above probably represent the bulk of these questions, but if any questions fall outside of those categories write about those too. It sounds like a cheat, but it’s just simple logic that your customers can drive your content creation and save you a lot of stress in the process.
Your answers, insights and vision are all the content marketing ideas you’ll ever need. You can create blogs, sites, micro sites, landing pages, email campaigns, billboards and smoke signals all in the pursuit of creating an educated consumer.
It’s easier to convert educated consumers but more importantly it’s easier to convert educated consumers faster.
The strategy is to have an ongoing internal process to document all prospect and customer questions. Those questions and the frequency with which they are asked should be tracked. Questions posed with more frequency present a greater opportunity for you and can guide your content creation budget.
If you are a business owner or manager, encourage your staff to be a part of this process and continuously refine and improve it based on evolving conditions.
Your role is in the maintenance of the process, but your prospects and customers become your work force. They are providing the seeds that you can cultivate.
Many businesses find it hard to think this way.
They convince themselves that they must come up with content ideas from scratch. This is folly. It’s not incumbent upon you to answer the questions that you think need answering, but the questions that your customers need answered.
Doing the former leads to content being produced in a “push” fashion. In other words, you are sculpting content with the intent of explaining why the prospect should hire you. The latter is a “pull” method. You are giving them enough information that allows them to draw their own conclusions.
Sculpting content that educates a customer and encourages them to make their own buying decision is an art form. That is the craft of a good marketing copywriter.
Before I go, I want to share a story with you. I have a personal friend that offers a creative service in the area of cinema. He refuses to put any of his material online as a sample, write about it or even have a website. He feels that he must have a direct and personal conversation with prospects to close a sale.
Conversely, his competitors post their materials online and almost universally have “behind the scenes” content that illustrates how their content came to be. Without giving away specific pricing, they have budgeting guidelines along with information about outcomes.
My friend is effectively out of business and has been for many years because he refuses to adapt and answer the questions that his audience wants answered before that handshake.
That’s the takeaway here.
If your business isn’t producing content to answer the three questions we discussed and taking advantage of the many electronic mediums to do it, you may never get to that initial handshake because nowadays the consumer wants to pre-qualify you before they meet you. They want a sense of the direction that those three categories of questions are going to take them in.
So remember, if you don’t answer those questions…
…Someone else will.
Join the discussion 2 Comments
Content created with the end goal of educating the consumer to make better choices (even if they don’t make the choice to work with you, ultimately) is a noble pursuit. I’ll do you one better: content created with the end goal of improving your industry and exposing the cracks is something all responsible small business owners should do, too.
When you break down the rules of the game for a prospect, why they exist, how they work – and which ones aren’t as important as they seem – you change the game for a client. That’s rememberable and remarkable all at once.
This is golden, Sir 🙂 Whenever I start a new project there’s an interview process, with employees, former clients and current clients. The material you get from the interviews becomes the foundation for everything, from blog content to tagline, and might even result in a new line of services. Material crafted to educate by answering the questions they most care about. Simple, but most small co’s still don’t do this.