I Don’t Know You -What do You Want to Sell Me ?

Old man in a chair

Called the old man in a chair, this 1958 image from for McGraw Hill Publishing was named the best ad of the 20th century by Business Marketing in 1999. Fast forward to modern day and the problems are slightly different. Today, in the age of information overload, the challenge is to cut through the clutterthat bombards the modern consumer. With the proliferation of smart devices and social media, the digital landscape has become an interactive marketplace where the formerly passive consumer has become an active participant, circulating information, influencing buying decisions and even building or demolishing brands. As consumers B2Cand B2B are connecting with businesses from a wide variety of channels and devices, we have been devising channel specific strategies to keep up, But the modern consumer is making his journey across multiple channels and touchpoints and rarely in isolation with each other.

Marketing has changed
Marketers today are in the business of generating leads and scoring their engagement with our content as evidence for their likelihood to convert into a buyer. So as modern consumers reshape when, how and why they engage with a brand, it might be worthwhile to take a moment to think about how we can become more customer centric in our audience engagement. To that end let’s look at the concept of buyer personas and the themes of content they consume along their journey.

Personas
This is your audience, who you write/create content for. The sole reason for the existence of your company’s products and services. Our mission is to make him/her the hero of his/her company by solving their problems with our solutions. And we do this by equipping him/her with all the information, tools and equipment needed to help him/her make the case within their organization and win it. We may often have to address multiple personas across each target industry but the more relevant we make the content to their daily work, the better our chances to engage them. So knowing and understanding your target personas whether they are in R&D, QA/Compliance testing, production , purchasing etc Is vital before starting to create content for them.

Content themes

Now this content may come in a variety of formats, blogs ,videos, web copy, flyers, banners, articles, whitepapers, infographics and so on, But in this blog, we focus on the theme or message that the content offers and not on the format in which it is conveyed. You may notice how these stages feat neatly in to the traditional customer journey phases of awareness, interest, desire, action. . So lets dive in talk about key content themes.

  • Pain — The average persona you are trying to reach is possibly not aware of a problem in his way of working or the technologies he uses. While the title is pain, this type of content could also be about gain. Our job at this stage is to create awareness of a problem or opportunity for him/his job, department or even company. We do this by talking about the relevant trends in his industry that presents such problems/opportunities and directing him towards his first call to action — the relevant promise content.
  • Promise — With the promise content you give your persona a vision of the future — that no matter what challenge lies ahead, there’s a way ahead, the promise of a better tomorrow for him, his department and his company. This is the stage at which we encourage him to explore possible solutions, excite him with the possibilities and empower him with the right information by directing him towards the relevant products or services that make up his overall whole solution.
  • Product — This is the type of content that is most likely to exist already in your content library. The standard brochures, flyers, features and benefits, product videos, company information etc. This content praises the product, extols the company’s credentials and can easily fall into traps of over marketing or overselling that like TV commercials and annoying popups, we’re waiting to get rid of. But if done with the right amount of relevance, product related content can still be the right kind of edutainment that audiences love.
  • Proof — In the social age, its no longer enough to tout your own horn and say theat your company and its offerings are the best. You’ll need to have others say it preferably customers. Credible industry analysts, partner content and other references may do the job but there’s a risk that they focus on the technology and not the relevance of it to our target markets. Customer case studies and testimonials on the other hand give potential buyers the right context within which to view our offerings. And with this frame of reference and story of the challenges that our offerings helped solve, prospective buyers gain a better idea of what’s possible and greater trust that problems similar to theirs can be solved.

Now for each of these content themes to be effective, the value proposition of the company and its offerings need to be made clear. And as we move from pain to proof, this value proposition needs to become more and more granular all the way down to proof of specification and their relevance in the real world.

Heading towards SMARTKETING
As the modern consumer makes his way across an omnichannel journey whether in app, in store or on the web, the modern marketer’s job is becoming more and more about improving volume and likelihood — volume of leads and likelihood of their conversion. And this needs to be done while managing an evolving investment mix where the ROI of each initiative is in competition for budget with other initiatives that affect different parts of the overall marketing and sales funnel while chasing alignment with strategic goals.

Heading towards SMARTKETING — measurable engagement powering volume and likelihood of lead generation and conversion

In a follow up post, we’ll discuss how we can measure, curate and monetize the omni-channel customer journey through analytics, lead scoring and marketing automation to generate and handover sales ready leads — all the while finding an accountable basis for budgeting and prioritizing initiatives in alignment with organizational goals. For now let me know if you found this interesting, relevant or blasphemously off target !

Marketer, Techie, Storyteller

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