Believe it or not, some dogs (and people) are afraid of me. It’s true. My new buddy, Winnie, a sweet little Chihuahua, was initially very wary (okay, terrified) to make my acquaintance. At first glance, we are very different: I am huge and she is tiny. However, after we took some time to get to know each other, we found that we had more commonalities than differences. We both like to sniff around, we both like to play, we both like treats, we both get annoyed by geese, and we both appreciate a good afternoon nap.
It occurred to me that making friends is a lot like winning customers. When you’re approaching a new prospect, for example, they may be initially wary – What are you trying to sell me? I don’t have time to listen to your spiel. I don’t need what you’re offering. With that in mind, I have some tips for wooing those skeptical prospects with a good content strategy.
- Don’t be a pest. People are busy and overwhelmed with information, which means most emails go directly in the trash. But, that doesn’t mean email is bad. In fact, email is 40x more successful at acquiring new clients than either Facebook or Twitter. It simply means that you need to provide information that is relevant and helpful, instead of a barrage of unwanted sales pitches and promotional content. You can create loyal customers with subscription-based content by offering something they look forward to, something valuable, or simply entertaining (like a new chew toy). When you provide content that people want, they will welcome you with wagging tails (so to speak)!
- Take time to learn their interests. There is nothing worse than a one-sided relationship. When it’s all about you and how great your product is, people quickly get bored. It’s far more effective to form a connection by expressing genuine interest, asking questions, listening more than you talk, and really learning about a customer and their challenges. People are more willing to engage if they believe you understand their motivations and “feel their pain.” In a recent LinkedIn survey, 62% of respondents said they engaged with content that was educational and informative, while another 61% read content that was relevant to their business. After all, everyone could use a little help. For instance, being vertically-challenged, Winnie couldn’t reach the tasty morsels on our table. So, of course, I offered to assist. Reaching things in high places is my specialty! What’s your specialty, and how can it help your customers? That’s the foundation of your content strategy.
- Be selective. Look, I have nothing against cats. In fact, I’ve met some pretty cool felines, but not all of them want to be my friend, no matter how hard I try. The same applies to potential customers. You could waste a lot of time and money trying to get everyone to visit your website and “like” all your posts, but it’s more efficient to use a targeted approach. Start by developing detailed buyer personas (i.e., who could benefit from your products/services, what motivates them, what are their challenges, and where do they gather information?), and then develop a content strategy geared toward these personas.
- Follow the journey. Okay, I admit it, I can be a little overbearing. I can’t help it – I’m naturally gregarious! But, I’ve learned this can be off-putting to both people and animals. It takes time to build a relationship. When it comes to customers, they call it a “buyers’ journey” for a reason. First you create awareness of a need or problem, then you help buyers consider various solutions, and finally, you encourage them to make a decision (hopefully in your favor!). Depending on the product or service, this journey can be short or quite lengthy, but in either case, your content strategy should address each phase of the journey. Let me give you an example: The first time I met Winnie, I showed her around the office and offered to share my toys. She expressed interest in my rawhide bone. So, the second time she came to visit, I offered a small piece of rawhide (it was previously chewed off a larger bone, but she doesn’t need to know that). When she gave me an appreciative rub, I reciprocated (and sealed the deal) with a slobbery lick on the head. Who could resist, right?
Let’s review. It’s important to make new friends and customers. Don’t be deceived by appearances – take the time to really get to know someone. Focus on them instead of yourself. Be helpful whenever possible. And, if it doesn’t work out, don’t take it personally – just keep your head up, your tail wagging and try again.