Thinking customer first creates a barrier when conceptualizing ideas for content creation. By zeroing in on the word “customer”, you face the danger of typecasting people into a singular role that only exists in your own personal narrative. This is a limiting approach that overlooks an important fact: your customer is more dynamic than someone in need of a particular product or service. By adopting an outward looking approach to how you understand and ultimately reach your audience, you will start creating the content that fits into the story that matters: your customers’.
Your Content: Become Part of Someone’s Story
Look at great stories throughout history. Many follow the monomyth or Hero’s Journey, as famously described by Joseph Campbell. Why do these stories resonate with us? Because we understand what the hero is going through, the emotions, the hardships and the triumphs. When contemplating content creation, show genuine interest in people’s needs and how you can add value to their story. View yourself as a good Samaritan, always ready to help move the story along in a positive direction. This approach to content requires empathy, engagement and anticipation.
You Want People to Feel Like You Know Them
According to Dev Patnaik, fostering empathy is a key component to reaching this position. “When your organization develops a shared and intuitive vibe for what’s going on in the world, you’re able to see new opportunities faster than your competitors, long before the rest of us read about them in The Wall Street Journal. You have the courage of your convictions to take a risk with something new. And you have the passion to stick with it even if it doesn’t turn out right the first time…The line between inside and outside the company starts to blur. Rather than seeing yourselves and your customers as us and them, you start to see yourselves as part of the same tribe. You start to think like your customers and feel confident enough to rely on your intuition. You find yourself anticipating what real people are up to and what they’re looking for from you. The effects can be profound.”
Empathy can be a catalyst for, as well as a major theme in your content. The key is to have it rise above processes and show through to your audience.
How can this be done? People are curious, people love stories, and most of all people want to connect. You can incorporate these into your content in the following ways:
- Let them see you. Shooting video and taking photos allow people to see the personality behind your company. The more senses people use, the more your empathy will shine through. This medium helps your audience to become familiar with you.
- Social Media/Blog comments allows readers to interact with the author as well as each other. This gives you a great chance to be proactive in helping others.
- Create stories about yourself and your customer. Does your audience know anything about how your company started or the people in it? What about sharing a story involving an interaction with a special customer? It’s likely your stories will resonate with those who are watching, helping to build a connection.
Through the methods above, expressing genuine interest in your customer will help show your empathetic side. In turn, you will develop a better understanding of how you fit into your customer’s story today and in the future.
Engaging With Different People & Diversifying Your Content
With an empathetic framework in place, you are now positioned to better engage with your audience. Where are they in their story today? Are they pursuing a solution that your company can meet? The best way to know is by asking questions. Listening to the concerns of your customers means you can figure out if you can help, and how to do it. Your inquiries should flush out your customers’ worries, concerns, hopes, and dreams. You can then take this feedback and spin it into fresh, new content.
Segments of your audience will be receptive to varying forms of content. This is why it’s important to differentiate between the types of customers you have. Internet marketing expert Lee Odden explains, “Create persona’s about your ideal customers identifying their preferences for content discovery, consumption and sharing. What are their pain points, what situations are characteristic of their need to buy your solution? Use those persona’s as customer segmentation guides for creating a Social & Content Marketing strategy.”
This is valuable insight. Engaging with your audience allows you to know them better and position your content to add value. In return, your audience will be receptive to your attentiveness and appreciative of the content that develops as a result of your familiarity with their story.
Content & Alleviating Uncertainty
In his manifesto of content marketing, SEOmoz CEO Rand Fishkin emphasizes that “content marketing exists to build familiarity, likability and trust.” Through understanding and engagement with your audience, you have genuinely gotten to know one another better. Utilize this connection and learn to anticipate your customer’s future needs.
Previously, you may have built your content strategy around solving a common problem that was readily apparent in your customer’s lives. Now, through intuition, you can put forth ideas or questions that are proactive rather then reactive. Instead of basing your content on obvious needs or methods, successfully anticipate what your audience will want to watch, read or share. This puts you in a position of innovation.
Of course, not everyone can come up with an engaging platform on the level of viral videos such as The Dollar Shave Club commercial.
However, you can follow their example of creating unique, innovate content and deliver it in a manner your target audience finds appealing.
Often, it’s as simple as piquing people’s curiosity. If you never shoot videos and suddenly one appears in your audiences social media feed or on your company blog, it can build intrigue. Once you have their attention, make a connection by showing the personality of yourself or your team. When executed properly, this is the type of content that can attract links and spurs your audience to become customer references.
The awareness that comes with anticipating customer needs prevents you or your content from being typecast. In turn, audience interest will remain high and you will alleviate worry by creating content that gives customers clarity.
While people may come to you with similar problems, what ultimately matters is how receptive they are to your solutions. Through empathy, engagement, and anticipation you can see that one size does not fit all. Developing a diverse content strategy based on these principles will help you add value to each customer’s individual story.
How has paying attention to your customer’s story helped you create content ideas?