For a very long time, marketing – in all its forms – used to mean broadcasting messages about products to consumers. It was the norm in all marketing and advertising messages for decades. Companies were telling customers how great and innovative their products are. And consumers hurried up to the nearest store to get those products.
This principle worked fine while there were not too many similar products. Consumers had little choice and they were frankly excited about each new product that helped made their life easier. From the vacuum cleaner to the AC unit, or from spreadable butter to TV dinners, each new product needed little persuasion to fly off the shelves.
But now things are very different from those golden years of advertising.
Moving from a Product Centric to a Customer Centric Marketing Approach
At the present, consumers have plenty of choices for any given product. They can choose between at least five or six major brands and dozens of local companies. With this freedom of choice came a change of perception. Consumers are no longer chasing after products. They understand that they are at the center of B2C activities.
Success in business at the present is defined by how well you know your customers and how you talk to them. This is the profound change in digital marketing – be it content marketing, email marketing or social media marketing. You must not talk at your customers anymore, but to them.
The entire concept of marketing communications must change from a monologue to a dialogue. This is what customers expect now. They already have experience in differentiating companies that actually care about them from companies that only want their money. This is the crucial element that will differentiate businesses in the future: customer experience.
According to a recent survey, the end of 2020 marks the moment when customer experience becomes even more important than price in making the buying decision. This finding is supported by a PWC research, which indicates that:
· 65% of consumers believe a positive experience with a brand is more influential than advertising
· 42% of them will pay more for products if they have a friendly, welcoming experience with the brand.
How Does Your Communication to Customer Sound Like?
It is time now to focus on the main issue under discussion in this article. Are you talking at your customers or to them? Do you nurture a conversation or address a passive audience? You may not be aware whether you are doing one or the other.
It is understandable. You are working so hard to keep your business going and find ways to help it grow. However, the very core of your business success is the customer. They keep you in business. Thus, you need to know if your content strategy is doing what it is supposed to:
Make customers aware of your brand
Educate them about how your products and services can help them satisfy their needs
Give them reasons to trust your business.
Here is how to tell whether your content is a dialogue with customers or a monologue about your business and products:
Are You Constantly Reminding Your Customers that You Are an Expert?
Tooting your own horn is not going to persuade your customers that you have he top know-how and the best products and services. On the contrary: people do not like those who brag about their accomplishments. They can form their own opinion, if you show them that you understand their needs and problems and have a solution for them.
As the saying goes, being an expert is like being a lady: if you have to tell people that you are one, then you aren’t.
Are You Listening to Your Customers?
Whenever you post a content piece – be it a blog article or a social media post – you need to pay attention to the replies and comments. You may get a lot of questions on a specific topic that is of special interest to consumers.
If you do not take into account what your clients are telling you and asking you, your content strategy becomes tone deaf. You keep sharing various topics – that may or may not be of interest to your readers – but avoid the one they are actively asking you about.
Do You Empathize with Your Customers?
Do you understand your customers’ problems and pain points? Do you make them understand that you care about the fact that they want to save time, lose weight, learn a new skill or find a better neighborhood to raise their family in? Or do you just write these words because they help you sell products and services?
As the father of advertising, David Ogilvy once famously said: “The customer is not a moron, she’s your wife.” Your customers are intelligent people, who will see right through your lack of authentic empathy. And they will turn away from your business, no matter how great your products may be.
Do You Address Individuals or Masses?
How do your content pieces sound? Like a speech to be delivered before a huge audience, or a friendly conversation with someone? Whenever you consider writing your new article, you must imagine yourself sitting at a table, with coffee or tea, and facing a person – your customer.
Think about what you would tell that person in a one-on-one conversation. This should be the tone of your articles. Each reader should feel that you address them directly. Without this type of human touch, your content is not relatable – nobody feels that you are addressing them and their needs. So, they won’t engage with it.
Do You Engage Your Readers?
Do you include a call to action in every post, asking readers to share their views or give their opinions? You would be surprised how easy it is to start a conversation with them and keep it going.
But how can you create content that will persuade people to reply? Here are just a few instances to consider:
Social Media Posts
The very term of social media involves communication and conversation. A post on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn should elicit more than just a Like and a share. You should provoke your followers to answer questions, share their views on a topic of interest or participate in an open debate with other followers.
Keep your customers entertained with quizzes, opinion polls and surveys. These types of content pieces are very useful for companies, for several reasons. For one, you can assess how many of your customers and followers are actively engaging with your brand. For another, you can assess how they see your brand and how much they trust your products.
Last, but not least, you can identify topics of interest that you can include in your content strategy, based on the replies you get.
Just like social media posts, your blog posts should start a conversation. You can share a thought piece, where you discuss a current event of interest to your readers. Or you can debate on the future technological evolutions in your field and how they may impact people’s lives. You will get a wealth of answers, some of which your can choose to feature on your social media pages (more on this in the next item).
Do You Leverage User Generated Content?
User generated content represents any form of content created and shared by your followers on your website or social media pages. Many top brands make great use of user generated content to increase customer retention and loyalty.
For example, you can launch a contest (with prizes) on topics such as:
Your first time using our products
Unusual and original ways of using our products
How our products transformed your life.
Add a clever hashtag, and you can create a tremendous brand awareness campaign for free. At the same time, you will make your customers happy by giving them the proverbial 15 minutes of fame on your social media accounts.
Moreover, inserting testimonials in your website has become the norm for building consumers’ trust. They will read reviews before they decide to look over your offers and special discounts.
Is Your Content Overwhelmed by Buzzwords and Industry Jargons?
A creative writing teacher once said to a student: “How did Hemingway say the sun also rises?” To the student’s silent confusion, the teacher explained: “Hemingway said the sun also rises.” What does this anecdote mean? It means that simplicity is the best writing style.
If you tell people that a product is gaining massive traction instead of telling them that it is very popular, you’ve not achieved your goal. They will not understand what you meant and why they should care about this issue.
Industry buzzwords and jargons are best left for discussions with your peers during the coffee break of a keynote speech or business convention. When you are writing for your audience – your customers – use everyday words, which anyone understands.
Moreover, too many buzzwords or technical terms will hurt your SEO strategy, not only customer engagement. People are not looking for “intraoral radiography”, they need a “dental X-ray”.
Are You Backing Up Your Claims with Data?
Do you substantiate claims – especially numbers, percentages – with reliable sources? Or do you simply assume readers will take your word for it? Consumers have already had a huge share of false and misleading information served to them on the internet.
They have learned to be careful and double check before they believe claims and statements. Whenever you speak of statistics, research, survey, include a link to the original source. This is not only good for building trust with customers, but also for SEO. Your will get a higher page rank from Google if you link to trustworthy websites.
Let Us Shape Your Conversation with Customers!
Iris Writing International is a company that stands for professionalism, talent and experience in content writing. We have already helped many companies in various industries craft their brand voice and build an effective content strategy.
We know what consumers want to read and how to adapt each message to your brand image and business goals. Through the content we create for you, we help you start conversations with customers and keep them engaged with your brand.
Get in touch with us and let us help you talk to your customers, not at them!