In case you’ve never heard of Ann Handley, she’s recognized by ForbesWoman as one of the top 20 women bloggers and was recognized by Forbes as the most influential woman in social media. She’s the Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, and she co-wrote the bestselling book “Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business
The Best Content Marketing is…
In her presentation, Ann talked about how to create content that offers real value for the customer. One of her slides was particularly potent: “The best content is packed with utility, seeded with inspiration, and honestly empathetic.”
So what does this mean?
Packed with Utility
First and foremost, customer-centric marketing content must be USEFUL to the target audience. It can’t be packed with sales pitches. Instead, it needs to be packed with meaningful information that your prospects NEED in order to:
- Fully understand and diagnose their situation
- Effectively evaluate all of their options
- Manage the risk associated with committing to a solution
- Understand the full scope of what it will take to deploy
Seeded with Inspiration
Your content should provide seeds of ideas that inspire your buyer. They should come away with “aha” moments that allow them to figure out clever ways to solve their own critical business problems.
If you seed inspiration into every piece, then they’ll keep coming back to you for more ideas and more clarity and inspiration.
This is the bullet that inspired me the most. Marketers tend to create content from a very limited point of view. It’s as if they’re convinced that their product or tools or service will magically solve ALL the customer’s problems with no effort required from the customer and no risk. But it NEVER works that way.
In all cases, whether you’re selling services or sophisticated financial technology systems, your customers have to cobble together a solution that includes:
- careful business analysis and specification development
- a collection of vendor products and internal development
- teams to implement and run the system
- the ability to foresee, trouble-shoot and quickly resolve problems
Great customer-centric marketing content should demonstrate empathetic understanding of this situation and provide insights that help the customer understand the full scope of the problem and what’s needed to solve it. The more your content can demonstrate an understanding of what customers are going through, the more likely that you’ll earn TRUST.
The Ability to Empathize and Understand Helps Win Deals
I’ve seen many vendors with more expensive products or even less functionality win deals over bigger, stronger, better funded competitors. In these cases, it’s because they could demonstrate their understanding of the broad problems. Customers trust these vendors’ ability to empathize and help the customer get through the whole process. I think this is why small vendors are such a desirable resource in the financial services industry. Often, the team involved in selling and deployment is senior and really understands the customer. They embody the concept of customer-centric selling. But if they want to spread the word and foster rapid growth, they also need to start embodying customer-centric marketing.
To download a buyer persona template that helps identify your target audience, click here.
If you’d like to discuss how to make your financial technology marketing content more customer-centric, give me a call.
(Photo courtesy of @LeeOdden)