We're pleased to present this guest post by Dan McDade of PointClear. Read on to hear Dan's suggestions for creative ways to infuse your content with conversational elements.
In an ideal marketing and sales world, we’d all enjoy the opportunity to talk in person with each and every prospect. No medium beats the high-energy nature of live one-to-one conversations and the connections they support.
But the reality of dealing with huge numbers of potential prospects—not to mention the need to focus on those most qualified—make initial face-to-face meetings resource- and cost-prohibitive. We take the next best steps by developing outstanding content and delivering it to the right prospects via the right media formats defined in our outbound/inbound marketing mixes.
Great content succeeds when it gets you found, instantly engages your prospects and converts them to the next target stage in your sales funnel. To do this, content not only has to be educational, entertaining and persuasive: it has to be truly personal so that it connects and flows like dynamic face-to-face conversations.
So how can we make written content—blogs, articles, white papers, eBooks, emails, and landing pages—more personal? Borrowing from a blog I wrote on The Power of the Human Voice in Lead Qualification & Lead Nurturing, here are eight characteristics traditionally associated with live one-to-one conversations along with suggestions on how they can be incorporated into other forms of content to make it more dynamic and powerful.
1. Personal connection
Reflect on your great personal connections with current prospects and customers, as well as on stories and anecdotes your colleagues in marketing and sales share with you about their successful connections. As you develop your content, incorporate elements that build both personal and business relationships: friendliness, warmth, a good ear, candor, humor and mutual respect.
At the heart of personal connection is deep understanding of and appreciation for the person with whom you’re communicating. Ground your content in thorough and credible knowledge of your prospects’ business challenges and needs, as well as the motivators that drive them to recommend or purchase solutions.
In B2B days gone by, serving began when the sale closed and solution delivery started. The rules have changed with the self-educating buyer. Prospects expect great content up front—readily shared, actionable and directly supportive of their buying journeys—even if it doesn’t result in a sale at this very moment.
4. Back-and-forth dialog
Spirited interactions go a long way toward creating and sustaining mutually beneficial business relationships. Blogs, Twitter and discussion groups have built-in response mechanisms for engaging in back-and-forth dialog. Leverage these opportunities by making your content provocative, intriguing and controversial. Think outside-the-box content that compels inside-the-comment-box responses.
“But what about a, b and c… how does your solution address them?” Chances are you and your colleagues could write an encyclopedia of prospect questions and your responses. Proactively and consistently share both. Your content doesn’t necessarily have to be in Q&A format. For example, you might use phrasing like, “When we talk with executives considering a solution of this nature, we consistently hear three primary issues raised.”
6. Situation assessment
Prospects appreciate assessments in which an authority correctly summarizes complex business challenges and presents enlightened—as well as business-case-justified—ways to solve them. Use your content to illustrate the who, why, what and how of your solution. Let prospects know positive outcomes to expect with approaches like “this is how the solution works successfully.”
7. Next steps
Bring your content to a focused conclusion with concise takeaways. Lay out a next-step path and characterize it with a sense of urgency. Based on what you would like your prospect to believe, feel and do as a result of experiencing your content, present your call-to-action.
8. Memorable experience
Think back to conversations that were part of a recent significant buying experience you’ve had—either personal or business-related—and reflect on what made your interchanges with your contact memorable. Perhaps there was a “wow” moment, or maybe you were surprised at how thoroughly you felt your specific needs were being understood and correctly addressed. Infuse your content with this type of memorable energy so that your prospects experience your content and think, “They really know their stuff. They understand what’s going on with us, and we need to include them in our deliberations.”
To the extent that we can animate our B2B content with the dynamic and spirited elements of live one-to-one conversations, we are much more likely to personally engage with our prospects and create mutually beneficial business relationships.
About the Author:
Dan McDade is President and CEO of PointClear, a prospect development firm helping B2B companies nurture leads until they're ready to purchase. Dan is one of SLMA’s Top 50 most influential people since 2010. Top Sales World recently named him a Top Sales Expert. Read Dan’s book, The Truth About Leads, visit his blog ViewPoint ll The Truth About Lead Generation, or contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org.