Before you start packing your bags for the Congo, I am sorry to break the news to you that our safari will not include jungle drums, wild white men swinging from tree vines, or a tribe of hungry looking head hunters. I had something a little more local in mind.
Ever since I first got into marketing as a lead generator, I have always wanted to have the opportunity to meet speak with customers, just to see what they are like. There is a wealth of knowledge that could increase content writer’s effectiveness significantly.
What’s in It for Me?
I understand that many marketers aren’t into the whole “interpersonal contact” thing that this would require. However, with marketers all over the world leading the crusade for personalization and segmentation, you won’t be able to avoid it for long. Personalization is the “next big thing” and it is here to stay. It’s much easier to get on board with it right here and now.
The more you understand your target market, the better you will be at touching the right “hot spots” that prompt action. Information is power. If you know that a large segment of IT managers don’t get home for dinner on time, let alone their kid’s game or concert, you have a powerful pain point to exploit. Solving this is important to them.
Your new focus is on how the product can save them time and make them more efficient. Use this scenario in your storytelling, making up a character that is lonely because he misses his family. Detail how the product resolved the problem that was causing your character to stay late night after night. “Call to Action button where are you?” They’ll be looking for it immediately.
So, in recapping what’s in it for me:
- I get to write more engaging, interesting content
- Our product solves the problem for the company and the employee, leaving both satisfied with our company.
- When the A/B Testing is complete, you scored a major influence on the results of the project.
- Having improved you’re testing numbers consistently, you will appear to have an edge on everyone else in your department. Unless, of course, if you decide to share the secret with them.
Decision Makers – Here I Come!
Wouldn’t it be great if there were decision maker contact introduction services online. Like Match.com, you could search their database for buyers in your target market and be allowed to contact them directly or you could just send them an “Atta Boy” with a thumb’s up emoji. So, how do you meet these guys?
The easiest way that I know of is to talk to your sales guys and see if they would allow you to go on a road trip with them. The next time they have a local sales maintenance call, you accompany them and at the end he carves out a portion for you to ask some questions. (We’ll cover the questions in a moment.) Sales is always looking for a reason to call contacts. “Hey, I am not just calling to sell something. This time I am calling about…..”
A good portion of business is conducted over the telephone today. Perhaps the sales team could ask their contacts if they’d be willing to give you 15 minutes. Why would they do this, you might ask. If you can raise content response rates by 20%, then since sales is predominately a numbers game, their sales should rise proportionately, helping them to make their sales quotas, reach sales goals and increase their earnings in the process!
A secondary option is the next time your company does a trade show, see if you can finagle your way onto the “away team”. These slots are hard to come by, so sell hard about what meeting decision makers will do for sales effectiveness. Be sure to point out that inevitably they wind up needing an extra pair of hands at those things. And, if all else fails, you are willing to take the later flight home in order to stay and help break the booth down. If you know who’s on the breakdown team, pick one and tell them that they will need him/her fresh for the next week and that he should go home earlier.
Eh, What’s Up, Doc?
So, let’s say that everything I’ve suggested so far has worked like a charm. (Why wouldn’t it? I suggested it.) You now have sales people willing to bring you with them and also to set up calls with out of town contacts. So, what do you ask them?
Remember that these are just regular guys. So there is no need to be nervous. Tell them that your company is trying to focus your target on the content that would best help them with problem solutions, and meeting their departmental or company goals. Ask them what type of content do you prefer, short blasts, infograms, white papers, ebooks, videos, etc.
What kind of content subjects do they like to read? Learning about their personal interests and hobbies also can be worked into content, as well. Ask if they have suggestions for content they’d like to see created. Chances are if there is one interested in that topic, there will be more.
Interesting Plan, but What Now?
Have a meeting with your team and map out exactly what you should ask the decision-making contacts. Ask Sales if there is something they would like for you to ask, since you have the contact giving you data already. Prioritize and narrow down your questions so that they fit into most ten minute conversations, plus have a few extras available to accommodate the guys wanting to talk longer. Be sure to ask if you can check back with them at a later time if you have a couple of extra questions. Always try to leave the door open for later . And record their willingness to re-engage with you.
Develop a means of recording their answers so that you can see at a glance who said what about the questions, who is willing to re-engage with you, and their personal interests and hobbies. A spreadsheet will allow you to tabulate the results easily. Continue doing this any time new customers are generated. After all, remember what the dormouse said – “Feed your head. Feed your head.”
Famous Last Words
“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” – Sun Tzu.
The Hank Moody School of Creative Writing
When you are having one of those days when words come at a snail’s pace and you know your content piece is going to be on the short side as far as number of words go. Here are a few “creative short cut” suggestions:
- Don’t abbreviate
- Don’t use contractions
- When writing numbers, spell them instead of using the numerical digit.
- Don’t use acronyms – Spell everything out all the way
- Break out the thesaurus and use longer words that mean the same thing
- The Optical Illusion – Use a slightly larger font size
- Use lots of charts, graphs, graphics and photos to eat space.
The Big Kumbaya in CyberSpace
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Thank you for taking time out to read this piece. Your time is greatly appreciated. To hear the rantings of other voices on the same subject:
How to Identify Content Topics That Hit Home With Your Readers by Meghan Keany Anderson