It’s Not About You: Crafting Customer-Centric Marketing Content
Who are you talking to?
That should be a question you’ve answered well before you begin writing your website, blog, or other marketing content. Who is your ideal customer? What kind of people are you trying to help? Remember, you’re marketing for your customers, not yourself.
It’s way too easy to fall back to droning on and on about yourself, your company, and your products and/or services. Many companies do this: Talk about themselves, then go in for the kill. And by the kill, I mean the sale.
Slow down there, Casanova. At least buy me a drink first.
No one wants to feel like they are being sold to. Ick. Cheesy car salesmen and obnoxiously flashy signs are things of the past. Customers want to know what benefits you offer them and how you will help them succeed. This is why crafting customer-centric marketing content is vital to building an effective brand.
Below are seven guidelines you can take to create content that puts your customers at the forefront and helps you win their business.
Write for Humans
When you’re very close to your business, it’s often hard to distance yourself from it—to the detriment of your brand messaging. This is often the case with highly technical and complex products. Make sure you are writing for people.
Take a step back and imagine you’re speaking to someone in person who doesn’t know much (if anything) about the product you’re selling. This means you should:
Avoid industry jargon and buzzwords.
Keep it around a sixth-grade reading level.
Make it easy to digest and remember with simple copywriting techniques (like these blog writing tricks).
Use the language and tone of voice your customers use.
Just putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and understanding their needs will go a long way when you start creating your marketing content.
Talk Benefits Instead of Features
You could have the coolest gadget with all the latest gizmos...but what is it going to do for me?
This is the question on every customer’s mind. So before you start listing the many features of your product, tell your customers what they’ll get from your product or service. How will it help them overcome challenges and succeed? Will it make their lives easier? Save them time? Make them feel better about themselves?
Belinda Weaver, owner of Copywrite Matters, uses a great technique. She says she pretends she is talking to a skeptical customer who, every time she states another benefit of her services, the customer asks, “So what?” The imaginary conversation continues until she has finally hit their end goal on the head with a benefit that truly resonates with them.
Paint a picture of what your customer’s life will look like once she buys from or works with your company. Then you can list the features. While they may be tied together, features and benefits are not the same. If you start with your benefits, you’ll put your customers in a better place to take in the features.
Stop Talking About Yourself
It may be your business, but it’s not about you. Your customers don’t care about your state-of-the-art headquarters or your entire life story. That is business-centric content rather than customer-centric.
You can start evaluating your existing content by looking for frequent usage of “we”, “us”, or “I” and replacing them with “you”. An old business-centric piece of copy might look like this:
Our salon offers a variety of hair, nail, and waxing services. We are a team of professional stylists with a combined 40 years of experience. We deliver the ultimate customer service and create a specialized plan for each client.
While a customer-centric approach would look more like this:
Are you looking for a salon that can take care of all of your hair, nail, and waxing needs? If you’re tired of driving from one place to the next for each of these services, you’ve come to the right place.
Get all of your beauty needs taken care of by a team of professionals who will get to know you, your preferences, and your style. We’re a one-stop-shop that will have you looking and feeling your best by the end of every appointment.
Speak personally to your audience, and less about yourself. As Donald Miller’s StoryBrand method says, make your customer the hero, while you act as the guide to help them achieve success.
Note: For much more detail about this formula, I highly recommend reading Building a StoryBrand. This is not an ad and I am not affiliated with the StoryBrand organization, I just really enjoyed the book and have found it very helpful in my writing and marketing. It also comes with free access to the Brandscript tool, which you can use for your own brand or your clients’ content.
Share Success Stories
Sharing specific testimonials and case studies work will show your prospects how other customers have succeeded after using your product or service. This is much more effective than you simply telling them.
When you say how great your company is, it’s only going to go so far with your customers. If they hear success stories from your other clients, however, you’ll gain a bit more of their trust. Testimonials from a third-party site (e.g.: Google reviews, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, etc.) go even further with building your credibility.
Don’t be afraid to use testimonials throughout your site on more than just your homepage. Consider placing relevant reviews on specific service or product pages—without overdoing it, of course. Go with a case study if you completed a particularly big project for a client that produced impressive results. It’s all in the social proof!
Don’t Immediately Go in for the Sale
Think like your customer: They’re trying to decide if your product/service is right for them, which means they’re imagining how it will help them.
What they’re not thinking about is the sale. If you jump in too quickly with the sell, your copy may come across as weak and vague.
So use your content to build value, make the connection, and tell them why they should buy from you. When you clearly show them the benefits they will experience and what problem(s) you’ll solve for them, you can confidently lead them to the sale.
Make an Emotional Connection
As many scientists have pointed out, our decision-making is tied more closely to emotions than we realize. They influence, skew, and sometimes even completely determine a number of decisions we make daily.
Think about how you shop: You might buy clothes based on what makes you feel confident and stylish, or you might choose a stroller based on love and concern for your child’s safety.
Rather than going with a strictly logical approach, tap into their emotions (unless you’re speaking to an audience of Vulcans). What are their passions and values? What are their fears or concerns? An important part of marketing for your customers is addressing these feelings and showing how your solution will cater to these desires and concerns.
Give Them a Reason
Remember when you were a kid and always wanted to know why? (If you have kids of your own right now, you’re probably answering this question numerous times a day.)
When telling your audience that they should purchase your product or invest in your service, they’re going to ask the same thing. It’s not enough to tell people to do something, especially when it involves their money. Show them why they should go with you over another brand. You can do this with your copy by highlighting:
Obviously, these reasons will vary by brand and industry. For example, an HVAC company may not have the cheapest prices, but they might offer superior service backed by a guarantee. A mattress company might show you their unique technology and manufacturing process that leads to a better night’s sleep.
It is human nature to want to know why we should do something, so simply giving your customers a good reason to buy will make the decision that much easier for them.
Put the Customer First
To recap, the key steps you should take to ensure your content is customer-centric are:
Writing for regular people.
Highlighting benefits instead of features.
Making your content about your customers, not yourself.
Sharing testimonials and case studies.
Focusing on the customer’s problems and needs before going for the sale.
Using emotions to relate to them and build a connection.
Giving them a reason to buy from you.
There has been a major shift in the marketing world as businesses realize that customers have one essential question: What is in it for me?
Create your marketing content from their point of view instead of your own, and everything else will fall into place.
How do you make sure your content is geared toward your customers? Share what’s worked for your brand below!