You’ve probably heard that content is king. That’s very true. You might also think that the content phenomenon is something new because of the onset of the digital world. And that would be false.
In the marketing world, content makes you or breaks you. I’m here to tell you that it’s always been this way. And yet, virtually everyone is making the same mistake with their content and the message it needs to send to their potential customers and clients.
Marketing and advertising have always been about “the message.” Essentially, it reveals the answer to this question: “What should my company say to my potential customers?” What should they know? What should we, as a business and a brand, COMMUNICATE to them?
Communication happens via our senses. Online and in print, that is transmitted both visually and also in the written form. Just as often, such as via TV and radio, or online through Youtube and podcasts, it is also audibly expressed. And in some cases, it’s even communicated by feel and taste. Any time you experience a free food sample at Costco, you are literally tasting the message as it’s being delivered by the product itself. When a company is well branded, as many appropriate senses as possible are involved in the message being communicated and then received.
But it’s in that very message that this one big mistake keeps happening, over and over again. Even seasoned veterans in marketing — including myself — are not immune and have to be reminded not to make this mistake.
It’s not about you
The message is NOT about you and your company. And yet, you keep producing content that says it is.
That’s not only a mistake — it’s a huge mistake. Because as soon as you make your message about anything other than what your customers need and want to know, you run the sure risk of turning them away. Your content is supposed to act as a “lead magnet.” You’ve now turned it into customer repellant.
I’ve seen mistake time and time again on my side of creative marketing, where I need to work with clients and help them craft their ultimate messages. I’ve had requests such as the following.
CLIENT: I want my logo to include a tree.
ME: OK. Why is that?
CLIENT: I like trees.
ME: OK. What do trees have to do with what you are offering?
CLIENT: Nothing. I just like trees. I think they are beautiful.
CLIENT: I want to use the color blue on my website.
ME: OK. Why is that?
CLIENT: I like blue.
ME: OK. Does the color blue evoke a feeling that you want to elicit from your particular customers? Will they respond well to that?
CLIENT: I don’t know. I didn’t think about it that way. I just know that I like blue. Use it.
I think you can see the pattern.
The message your content delivers needs to be — always and forever — about your customers. Even the “about us” page that most websites include is better off talking more about what your business can do for your customers, rather than it be solely about you and your business.
Everything you communicate to your customers should address these questions: What do they want? What do they need? How will it be delivered to them? How will they experience your products and services? The answers are the messages that people best respond to and are moved by — but are also the messages that businesses neglect to send.
We are all only human
Despite the truth of what I’ve just outlined, we entrepreneurs frequently fall into the belief that it is about us and our business. Why is this? Well, I’m not a psychologist, but the little I’ve learned from my university studies suggests that it’s our human egos at work. We all have one. While we might not all be clinical narcissists, there is a touch of narcissism in everyone. As humans, we just tend to keep turning things around and making it all about ourselves.
If we then send that “about us” message to our potential customers, we will push them away. Why? For the very same reason that we make this mistake — because they are human too, and in their minds, it’s all about THEM, first and foremost. The message we send needs to confirm that thought and respond to it, rather than compete with it.
You’ve got to remember — the people you are trying to reach with your products and services are just that — people. They, too, are thinking with their human egos. They are asking your business this question: What’s in it for me? If you don’t deliver the right answer, upfront — you’ll lose them.
Don’t bury the lead
In journalism, we have an old saying: “Don’t bury the lead.” The “lead” is the most important part of the news story. You want to tell your readers right upfront the most important information that they’ll want to know when they read your story. If you don’t, they’ll move on to another article.
The same is very true when attracting prospects for your business. If, for example, they have to scroll past a ton of information or click around your website to find out what it is you offer them — you’ve already lost them. Recently, in dealing and consulting with new entrepreneurs and their newly created websites, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend: They never say what they offer people. They don’t explain what is unique and special about their businesses. They are actually making their visitors guess what they are all about.
Prospects just aren’t going to work that hard to figure out what your message and, more importantly, what your service or product is. Another important saying is: “A confused mind doesn’t buy.” If they have to decipher your content like a crossword puzzle, these people won’t buy. They will simply go away.
Adopt the paradigm shift
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know enough to even recognize that it’s their content that’s doing all the damage. Not all good content is good content. Unfortunately, not all entrepreneurs are good writers. And like I’ve already said, even a good writer and marketer has to get out of his or her own shoes and look with an entirely different perspective, and I’m here to say, that’s not always easy. It takes a real mindshift to do it. But do it we must, if we want our content to drive sales.
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about making a “paradigm shift” — looking at things from another perspective — often the viewpoint of the person with whom you might be experiencing a problem. We business owners have to adopt the paradigm shift as well, even when its hard, to help us communicate effectively with our customers and, ultimately, close deals.
Take the time to give it a try yourself. Check the analytics, including your return on investment, and see for yourself if shifting the perspective makes a positive difference. As always, we here at LaCroix Creative are here to help you create the best content possible that can make a real difference for your business. Contact us by clicking HERE to learn more.