We talked previously about writing about your company and products, and why it’s so difficult to do. It’s all about perspective; you have to see things through the eyes of the client.
And that’s not easy. It leads to cramped, stilted writing, writing the wrong thing, writing content that makes sense, but doesn’t bring in the value you need.
You know your products and services better than anyone; that sometimes makes it difficult to put yourself in the place of a client who is considering your proposition for the first time. Effective communications are the way to bridge that gap, but to do that you’ll need to shift your mindset completely. That’s not easy to do.
But all is not lost – there are some simple techniques you can do to shift your perspective and write compellingly and effectively about yourself and the value you bring to your clients. Here are three suggestions you can try, starting today, with your next communication.
Tip #1: Start at the end
Many of us were there early on, when the company was first finding success with its products, or maybe as it broke into new markets or designed services that none of its competitors were offering. We are often deeply aware of where we came from and how we got to our current place. And we think day-to-day of our own processes and how we navigate customers through them.
That point of view is useful for us, but it’s not very compelling for customers. So let’s give them something that will compel them: the end of the process. Start out with the benefits and work backwards from there.
So if you’re providing a software product, don’t talk about bandwidth or the technologies you use; even if your potential customer knows and cares about them, they don’t evoke a reaction from them.
Instead, think of the business benefits your customers are looking for. Easy to install? Easy to maintain? Bulletproof operation? Solve a specific business problem? Start from there, and let the communications follow.
Tip #2: Think of a problem
You’ve solved your customers’ problems before; that’s why you’re in business today. So use that to your advantage. Think of a real customer who’s been helped by your product or services.
Look at the problem and your solution from all sides. Why did the customer come to you in the first place? What challenges did they face, and how did you respond to them? What were their concerns? What went well and what didn’t as you provided the solution? What kind of feedback did they provide?
Once you’ve got all that in mind, you can generalize. Multiple customers have come to you with similar problems, of course; others might have had unique and interesting needs that you helped to address. All of these might be part of your communications at some point.
But to start writing, stick with that one original customer. Imagine yourself going back in time, to when they first read your literature or saw your ad or connected with you on LinkedIn. What would you tell them? How would you sell them on your product, knowing how it would turn out in the end?
You can add and change details, generalize for other customers. But keep that one customer firmly in mind, and speak directly to them. By focusing your message through that lens, you’ll reach other customers too.
Tip #3: Think of a question
This can help with almost any piece of difficult writing. It’s a way to find a perspective to write from, and also to make yourself write persuasively. Two simple steps: ask yourself a question. And then answer it.
Part of the trick, here, is to ask the right question; when you’re writing about your company, you’ll probably want to return to your customers for help. What do customers ask? What are the problems they come to you with? What are they most skeptical about when you offer a solution?
Those questions will point you in the right direction, even if they don’t quite deal with the message you’re trying to convey; for example, you might be looking to launch a new service, so you don’t have much experience telling customers about it. But you can still put yourself in their shoes, and think of what they might ask. And once you’ve got your question, it’s a lot easier to organize your thoughts and make your case.
For example, maybe you’re trying to convince users of the free version of your product to upgrade to the paid version. A list of features won’t do it; customers might not know or even care about what features they do or don’t use. But think of how a customer would put it: “Why would I pay that much every year when I can get what I want today for free?”
Imagine that customer is standing in front of you, hands on hips, asking you that. Maybe you’ll talk about all the benefits their organization will receive by using your product more effectively. Maybe you’ll talk about how other customers improved their own businesses with the higher-value product. Maybe you’ll show the ROI on the better product, and how it actually saves the customer money to pay for the additional features.
Whatever your answer is, by framing your writing as an answer to a question, your copy will better focus on your customers, shifting to a perspective that will compel and engage them.
It’s all perspective
You’ll notice that all of these techniques focus on the same thing, in one way or another: your customer. And it’s your customer’s perspective that is key to getting your message out effectively.
Yes, marketing writing can be difficult. But as the person who knows the organization best, you need only to take the right approach to make the writing easier, more engaging, and ultimately, successful.