Most people know from different articles, tips they’ve picked up at functions and even courses that when it comes to successful networking the key is to ask lots of questions about the person you’ve just met, to show interest in them and then eventually talk about what you do.
‘Be interested in others’ and you will ‘be interesting’ is the gist of it.
However, this way of behaving seems to be forgotten when it comes to marketing. Most company information talks endlessly about the business and they probably don’t even realise that they’re doing it or how off-putting it is.
An easy way to spot how focused a business is about themselves is to pick up one of their publications or look at their website and notice how many times they say ‘we’, ‘our’, ‘the company’ and their brand name. Now see how many times they talk about their customers – do they talk about what their customers want, what they need and how they are setup to meet those needs?
I have a brochure from a company that I keep as an example of what not to do. In it they talk about ‘our company’, ‘our expertise’, ‘our clients’ and ‘our work’. While it is glossy and looks appealing, the content is off-putting because it doesn’t make a connection for the person reading it about how the business can help solve their problems. They are too focused on themselves.
Any content that you produce – whether it be an article, checklist, website, brochure – needs to be pitched from the perspective of your customer.
Even your ‘About’ page on your website needs to be about how your experience positions you as the ideal authority to solve your target customers’ problems. Anything else is indulgent filler.
In a recent Techpinions article by John Kirk about Apple’s customer-centric approach, he states that: “It’s never easy to perfectly match what the seller sells with what the buyer buys, but a customer-centered approach — like the one Apple uses — helps to align the product design with the purchaser’s desire.”
So what can you do? How can you make sure that what you write is going to help your customers? The first step is to know your customers and their problems. How do you do this?
This could be an actual customer that you enjoy working with or an amalgamation of a few of your customers. Be clear about who they are from the basic demographics (age, gender, marital status), to more specific information (income, what they like to watch, read, listen to and do).
By deep diving into the issues that your target customers have you’ll be able to switch your viewpoint away from what you’re trying to get done, to how you can help your customers solve their problems. This may seem like splitting hairs but it is an effective way to shift your focus. You can then write content and create products based on solving those problems.
What you may find is that some of the solutions you come up with may not all involve you directly solving their problems but may instead lead to partnerships and collaborations to offer a more complete solution for your customers.
This could be information so that they can quickly understand what you can offer them. This struck me when I was on a website last week. The site belongs to a competitor of a client and while the site looks appealing and a lot of thought and planning has gone into it, it isn’t clear from a quick check of their home page or the ‘corporate partners’ section, what it is they do or why they do it better than any other company. Instead what stood out was the bold text talking about ‘Our approach’, ‘What our clients say’ and ‘Partnering with Us’. They assumed that most of the people who landed on their site knew what they offered.
Now that you know what to look for, take a look at your own website. How do you measure up? Could a random person visiting your website who knows nothing about what you do, be able to work out quickly what it is you offer? Why they should hang around and see more?
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