Help Before You Sell: Why Prioritizing Customer Needs Makes Good Business Sense
It can be a drag finding what you want online. Whether you’re looking to buy a TV, hire an ad agency, or get a graduate degree, you want to make an informed decision, and companies don’t make it easy. What are the costs? How do different brands compare? What features are available and which are really worth it? Is this even the best way to approach my problem?
Brands engage in an ongoing struggle, fighting their way to the top of search engines for the promise of discovery and valuable traffic.
Great for search engines, but what are the companies doing once they’re there? Too often the focus is solely on getting visibility with users, but not having valuable, useful content for the user once they’re seen.
And so visitors leave the unhelpful page and continue their search for the information they really want, often working down the list of unhelpful content only to find their defeats remarketed to them in tailored ads.
It’s not surprising that so many potential online customers are cynical, suspicious and weary. They have their own concerns, needs and priorities, none of which are your brand. Or your mission statement. Or your value proposition. Or your limited time offer.
So why do so many brands focus exclusively on the heavy marketing pitch? Why exhaust word count on their sales copy instead of speaking more to the customer’s needs and pain points? For every person actively considering your product or service, there are 10 or 100 or 1000 other folks with a question or need that will lead them there in time. Questions and reservations are obstacles between your customers and your brand.
Remove those obstacles before the sale. Answer the questions, even the tough ones. Especially the tough ones. If you don’t, someone else will, and that resource will be closer to earning customer trust. When that prospect’s questions and reservations have all been answered, you can have all the #1 rankings in Google you like — you’re now competing with the brand who’s been holding that prospect’s hand the whole way. The ugly duckling doesn’t want you now that she’s a swan, buddy.
Plus, educated consumers are confident consumers. They love things that make them look smart when they have dinner party discussions and post things to reddit. They will share content that is helpful.
And confident consumers become loyal consumers. They made a smart choice and they’re sticking to it. They can become advocates. Give somebody content that is truly useful and they may put your content in front of 10 or 100 or 1000 people — not because they like you, but because it’s worthwhile. Because it makes them feel good to be the one providing something useful. Will they do that with your sales brochure? Hell no.
So help them help you. Start by addressing questions and concerns, and trust that they’ll come back to you when they’re ready to transact. Deliver that ray of sunshine in their hour of need. Provide them the emotional fist pump when they find the genuinely beneficial information they’re looking for after sifting through several pages of ad-laden fluff, outdated 2009 data and whatever Wikipedia has to say on the matter. Your business will be all the better for it.
About David Gould
David is the Director of Strategy at Vertical Measures, working with brands to develop successful online marketing programs that pull together business goals with customer needs. His 15 years experience in writing, design and web development have provided a perfect complement of skills for effective content marketing and strategy. +David Gould