One of the most difficult challenges for marketers is to shift their messaging from company-focused to customer-focused. The fact that prospects have taken control of the buying process should be common knowledge, yet I come across a lot of marketers who are still trying to control things. The disconnect is that these marketers think they can do what they've always done, shift a few words around and, voila, they're customer focused.
I hate to disappoint here, but that's simply not the way it works.
In all fairness, the reason this happens is because we've developed company-focused messaging habits. It's hard to change from what we're used to because we're no longer objective. Marketers may also not realize just how much has to change to achieve customer focus.
One thing that may help is to look at a brief example to show the difference:
With the WhizBang 5XL, you have the most sought after tools that enable you to increase A, streamline, B and accelerate C.
Why it's not customer focused:
- The subject of the sentence is the product - mentioned a second time as the tools.
- "sought after" is the company patting itself on the back.
- The three achievements the customer will get are a secondary focus that loses impact due to the point above.
- Inserting "you" into a company-focused sentence does not shift the focus to the customer.
Constrained budgets make it increasingly difficult for CIOs to increase A, streamline B and accelerate C—but it doesn't have to be that way.
Why it's customer focused:
- The subject is a problem the target audience is dealing with.
- The audience is identified, providing immediate orientation and relevance for the reader.
- The achievements from example 1 are now stated as goals pertinent to the target audience.
- The phrase at the end implies that the next sentences will tell the CIO why it doesn't have to be difficult and how to achieve his 3 goals.
In the customer-focused example, there's no reference to the company, products nor any back patting. There's nothing for the reader to object to. Unless they think, "yeah, right" about the last phrase. But controversy can be a good thing because you've likely inspired their curiosity to find out if their assumption is correct—so they'll read on trying to prove they're right. Hopefully, you'll convince them otherwise, or at least get them thinking about some of the ideas you've shared.
Another reason that it's difficult for marketers to make the switch to customer-focused content is due to this idea of "always be selling." When your mindset is "selling" it becomes very difficult to get away from your products. But you need to. Content marketing for a B2B complex sale is not about selling products, but rather ideas based on expertise.
The ideas will eventually follow the path to the products, but at the pace the buyer dictates, not yours. Especially if your content is designed to be useful to your prospects and customers for their stage in the buying process.