We’re living in an age of information abundance. With the click of a button, Google can give us answers to every conceivable question. So it’s not surprising business owners and marketers are increasingly using content as a lead generation tool.
This can be a highly effective strategy, provided your content is customer-centric. Unfortunately this is where a lot of businesses fall short – not through lack of knowledge or expertise, but simply because the content doesn’t resonate with their target audience.
Creating content your customer doesn’t want or need wastes your most precious resource – time – and can even damage your brand if customers find it confusing or misleading.
Here are three common content mistakes and how you can avoid them:
Mistake 1: Focusing on you
The cornerstone of great content is storytelling. And every great story has a hero. When it comes to business content, your customer must be the hero. Rather than describing what your business does, ask ‘What’s the problem or challenge my customer needs to solve?’ Then rephrase your content in solution terms, so customers feel understood and know why they should buy from you.
1. Give customers a real life scenario. For example, if your business is unblocking drains keep the technical detail to a minimum and instead focus on the outcome, such as how the service will help them avoid flooding that could damage their property.
2. Another useful approach is to present your information in an FAQ style. Brainstorm some of the most common queries or concerns your customers have brought to you, and address each one succinctly and directly – remembering to focus on helping, not a hard sell.
Mistake 2: Too much detail
As an industry expert, you have a wealth of knowledge to share. But sometimes the desire to show how much you know can hinder rather than help.
If your product or service is complex and requires a detailed explanation, break it down into smaller sections or steps your customer can follow one at a time. This gives your customer clarity and keeps them engaged. If you must communicate a large amount of information in one piece of content, use bullets and subheadings to separate key points and make it easier for your audience to consume.
1. Identify the actions or knowledge that define each step. For example, if your business is providing estate planning advice, create a timeline of events that explains what’s required of your client, your role, other authorities or legal bodies involved, likely timeframes, the documents required etc.
2. To keep your audience engaged throughout long pieces of content, look for ways to add a visual element. Don’t limit yourself to a few stock photos – consider how a visual could make your message easier for the audience to consume – such as a graph or chart, infographic or video.
Mistake 3: Lack of context
For content to be effective, it must have context – otherwise it’s just information! Giving your audience something they can relate to bridges the gap between what you do and what they need.
Some great ways to create context include providing real life examples of how you’ve helped other customers (eg. case studies), and by sharing industry insights such as new developments, statistics or reports.
1. Industry bodies and associations can be a great source of shareable, often exclusive, information. For example if you are a real estate professional, keep an eye on communications provided by the Real Estate Institute in your state and use these as the basis for a regular update to your customers, showing them you have your finger on the pulse of your industry.
2. Sharing behind-the-scenes information or insights about your daily operations is also a great way to build context as it highlights the human face of your business, helping create a stronger connection and deeper understanding of your business.
Content can be a valuable marketing tool. But to be effective it must be meaningful to your audience. People want to deal with businesses that understand them, not just the product or service. Show them who you are and how you can help, and they’re more likely to become customers, rather than just visitors.