The No1 staff training tool? Marketing content!

Think about it for a moment – it’s your marketing communications that tell your customers what to expect if they have dealings with your company.

So, shouldn’t your staff be singing from the same hymn sheet?

There’s a lot to be learned from the content writers you employ. They put themselves in the position of your customers, and ask themselves “what is it that will encourage me to buy from your company?”  It’s how they’re able to create copy that resonates with the target audience.

The copy they produce answers all the right questions, it reassures potential buyers, educates them and may even entertain them too along the way.

Above all, it instils an expectation about the exact experience, service or product they can look forward to when they transact with your business.

And here’s where it all goes wrong…

The words themselves are meaningless if they are not backed up by actions. Every copywriter portrays an optimistic view of how a business operates. The spanner in the works is reality!

Which his why it makes perfect business sense to use marketing content as the number 1 tool for staff training – covering company ethos, competitive advantage, customer service, product information, delivery expectations and so on.

It’s time to take an honest look at the quality of your service – and if your people are not mirroring the image created in your marketing, you’re failing your customers.

There’s a lot to be learned from marketing copy. It’s not just about paying lip service to the notion of good customer service; it should accurately encapsulate the real substance of your business. It’s about creating an authentic reflection of who you are and what you deliver on an individual, one to one level.

And consider this, a good independent content writer will deliver valuable insight into how the market works, what your customers expect and how to join up marketing with deliverables. Food for thought indeed.

Don’t talk to me about solutions!

The lazy man’s terminology starts and ends with solutions – you’ll have come across it many times I’m sure.

But what does it actually mean? What does it tell you about how the company you are reading about can actually help you?

Some people even use the word in their Company name – it’s just so banal.

Storage solutions, IT solutions, recruitment solutions… the list is endless. But whoever you are, whatever you do, using the ‘s’ word is guaranteed to position your company way behind the competition.

I remember working on a ‘Solutions’ brochure back in the ‘80’s for a client that wanted to bring all of their product offerings together. And maybe then it was OK, but in today’s world, with ever more discerning buyers in the market, it just won’t do.

So, if you want your prospective customers to really understand how you can help them, take a tip from me and don’t talk to them about solutions!

Good marketing content has to meet with your customers’ expectations – you need to show that you really do understand their needs, their pain, and that your offering matches their needs exactly.

It takes effort, thought and the right choice of words but it’s time well spent to ensure you get your marketing content just right.

Fill your website with rich, sharp content and you’ll be pushing on an open door – escalating your product or service above anything else on your customers’ wish lists.

If you need help with pertinent content that gives your customers real tangible reasons to buy from you, please feel free to get in touch.

Balancing expertise with readability

It seems that more and more, we are all striving to be ‘experts in our field’, better than and more informed than the rest.

But in our quest to be the best, are we in danger of being boring or even irrelevant? Sharing knowledge is a common element of a content writer’s brief. “Show my customers how much I know, that I’m a thought leader and the go-to person for help and advice”.

So, my challenge is to balance this drive for ‘showing off’, with ensuring we’re not talking over the heads of our target audience, but giving them the information that they really need.

Yes, it’s important to show knowledge and expertise – but it’s how these skills benefit our clients that readers are interested in. So my approach is to take the in-depth expertise and spin a commercial angle onto it.

It’s all about the outcomes – what’s the answer to that ‘so what?’ question.

Take a look at this example:

“So you have the most advanced technology in the UK but how does that benefit my company? Oh, so you can cut traditional production times in half? Now I’m interested!”

By addressing the pain points suffered by customers, (in this instance, a lengthy production time) you’re more likely to strike a chord. It puts your product or service offerings into context so that customers instantly grasp how it is that you can help them.

We acknowledge that we are all time poor, that we have just a few seconds to capture and engage with website visitors. Offer answers to your customers’ problems, talk about the issues facing them right now and they will respond in a positive way.

 A place for ‘heavy’ content

There is of course a strong case for serious, knowledgeable copy and for including it on your website. Perhaps though just not right at the front. ‘More reading’, ‘knowledge hub’ etc, however you want to call it, signposts your more considered, detailed and thought-leading pieces to those that are interested in the finer points of your knowledge.

White papers, e-books and other publications are the perfect resting home for in-depth content, and are very valuable in proving your prowess, and positioning your business as a leader in its field.

So please take a look at your website and be sure to look at it through the eyes of your typical customer. Ask yourself if you are giving them the information they need in a friendly, palatable way, and whether your content needs a re-shuffle, to deliver the best possible online experience.

The power of targeting your content

If your business is one of the majority whose product offering can appeal to many, how do you pitch your content to attract audiences from different target markets?

If you were selling oranges for example, it might be helpful for the orange buyer to understand why they should choose your oranges rather than someone else’s.

To start with, you need to understand who your orange buyers are.

One group could be an athletics club for example, who are interested in the re-hydration qualities of your fruit. Another group could be a health club, keen to find the most nutritious oranges they can buy. Then there are parents looking to buy oranges that their kids can easily peel.

Essentially, you’re selling the same product, yet your buyers have different needs that must be satisfied if they are to decide it’s right for them.

Hence the power of target marketing. Generic content risks being ‘vanilla’ i.e. with little by way of interesting ‘hooks’ to reel your buyers in.

In the marketing industry we talk about business verticals – different market sectors that have different needs and priorities yet happen to be in the market for the same product.

So, how can your copy reflect those different needs?

By talking directly to your audience, using a language they understand, and hitting the specific pain points of each sector, you’re showing those buyers that you appreciate their needs, and that you can provide exactly what it is they are looking for.

With content, very rarely does one size fit all. And the more that you can pitch your content to specific target groups, the more likely it is you’ll receive enquiries.

Time for a little more sophistication

It’s good to know who your customers are, and where they are in the buying cycle. Have they bought from you before, enquired but never bought, or do they need educating about all the wonderful reasons why they should buy from you?

Existing customers may appreciate news from you about new products or add-ons to the products they’ve already bought. And they may like to receive a voucher off their next purchase as an incentive to buy again. Or you may wish to include an early bird discount to recent enquirers to push them towards a purchase if they are procrastinating.

New customers may be easier to convert if they are eligible for an introductory offer.

You get the idea. And hopefully get the gist of why targeting your content can add a strong commercial advantage to your business.

Who would you like to do business with?

It might sound like an obvious question but if you’ve an ideal client in mind, check out your online resources to see if they are pitched to attract interest from this group. Perhaps you’d like business from abroad, from a particular sector such as charities, retail or online businesses only.

Take a little time to think about which clients could award contracts that would really make a difference to your business, and create specific content that will draw them in.

Use blogs to target your different markets too, and signpost to those blogs on Twitter using the sector hashtag that’s relevant to the content. It will start to put you on the radar of the businesses you’d like to have a conversation with, whilst showing them that you’re a serious provider in their field.

Who needs content marketing anyway?

It’s a bit of a buzz expression I know, a bit like social media and the like. So do you really need to pay attention or will ‘content marketing’ go away in time?

Here’s a quick heads up – we’re all making our buying decisions differently today to how we were just a year or so ago. Continue reading “Who needs content marketing anyway?”