You hear it from all over, including from me. It's not cool to talk only about your products because your buyers don't care about them, they care about achieving their business objectives.The platform for accomplishing the objectives is secondary to the value add from the company providing them.
So you go out with the best of intentions and try to write about problem-to-solution scenarios and educate your prospects about outcomes they can get should they choose to buy from your company.
And this is often the result:
"[generic term for solution] will help you increase efficiency, streamline cumbersome processes and boost your employee productivity so you can achieve shorter time to market."
Huh? Yep - that's your prospect shaking his or her head and thinking, "yeah, that's what they all say. Means nothing to me." Delete. Move on.
What's happened is that in trying to sound more impressive than our competitors, we've stacked vague phrase upon vague buzzwords and achieved mediocrity. Um, maybe worse. In trying to steer away from what we know best - our products - we've landed in this nowhere zone of ambiguous statements.
Let's just say that your prospect reads that statement above and tries to have a conversation with a stakeholder involved in a project where your solution could be a perfect fit.
Prospect: "Hey, did you know we can increase efficiency by implementing this kind of solution?
Stakeholder: What exactly becomes more efficient?
Prospect: "Um, I don't know, but whatever it is, it also boosts our employee productivity, so it must be good, right?"
Stakeholder: "How does it do that? In comparison to what?"
At your prospects shrug, the stakeholder eyes him with concern about mental instability and disappears down the hall muttering under his breath.
Okay - perhaps a bit dramatic, but go grab a piece of your marketing content and scour it for vague terms and see how many you find.
The reason for all this vagueness in content is because we forget about context that matches our prospect's worldview. We've forgotten how to tell a story of interest to our prospects, that engages them based on interest and needs, not product features.
Efficiency is fine and dandy. It means to get things done faster and with less effort.
Context might look like this: When you use this type of solution you can increase production on the line by up to 5X what you're achieving today.
A statement like that is not only easily understood, but it generates ideas for the prospect based on their unique situation. They may grab onto that 5X improvement and apply it to the possibility that they can eliminate the need for that costly expansion project to add another line to the plant. Is that appealing? Yep.
The point is that the more real you can make the value your solutions deliver, the easier it is for prospects to insert themselves into the story you're telling and relate that idea to a goal they need to achieve.
And here's the kicker - unless you can afford to create 1-to-1 content based on research into each prospect's reality, it's highly unlikely that your content could actually address that exact justification and remain relevant to everyone in that market segment.
For someone else, the 5X increase might mean they don't need to staff up to meet increasing demand, saving them additional overhead when compared to the solution's total cost of ownership.
Replacing vague terms with contextual examples gives your prospects:
- a way to equate value against their specific situation
- credible talking points to influence stakeholder conversations
- increased interest in learning more to validate their idea
And those points all help build higher levels of engagement that move prospects toward becoming qualified sales opportunities.
So where do you find the fodder for context?
You find it in the ways your customers use your products and in the business results they achieve. You can use customer insights in content articles without the need to identify the customer. In fact, by leaving the customer out of it, you give the prospect more freedom to imagine the possibilities than if you named the customer.
For example, if I'm working for a midsize IT company, I may perceive that an outcome achieved by IBM isn't possible for my situation. They have more resources and a heck of a lot more money to throw at the problem. But without that preconception in the way, I very well may see how to apply that context to my own situation.
So, remember that context is great, but also be aware of how perception can be affected based on the layers of context you choose to use. Make those decisions based on the market segment your content is designed to engage.
Applying context in place of vague terms and buzzwords can transform the results your marketing content generates.