Lesson 1 for gaining awareness and attention is to get over ourselves. Effective manufacturing marketers realize the people in their target audience don't care about their company, their CEO, their sales people or their marketing people. Great manufacturing marketers know the best awareness content is about the people who comprise their target audience and not the people who comprise the executive team, the sales team or the marketing team.
Please note that in this post I'm talking about awareness stage content, not decision stage content. I know it is important to make available information about your product and your company. When your prospective customers are ready to make a purchase, they want to know the details of who they are about to do business with and details about the product.
During the awareness stage, when prospective customers are searching for information about their problem, company and product focused content does not work. If you want to gain more awareness of your company and your offering, the content must answer this one question as if the people who may one day purchase what you offer are screaming it in unison, “What’s in it for me?”
Is your content we-weing all over itself?
How do you know if your content is ‘we-weing’ all over itself? Just pull up one of your web pages and start reading. Read one of your own brochures (digital or print). Take a look at your last webinar invitation. Are you telling the reader about your company and your webinar or are you inviting them to solve a problem, learn something or improve their own situation. Here are a few all too common phrases you may encounter which are strong indicators you’re writing from your own self-centric perspective as opposed to your audience’s perspective. If you see these types of phrases permeating your content, then you are a ‘we-we’ company:
- "Our [insert offering] is better, faster, cheaper, etc." Instead say ‘[offering] helps you [insert value]'
- "Sign up for our newsletter. Instead say "Sign up to receive your weekly newsletter helping you ….."
- "We are the global leader in [insert offering]." Remove this type of language completely. Half the readers don’t care and the other half don’t believe you.
- "We do this. We are the best. We have this certification. We got this award." Again, nobody cares. Rephrase the statement so you tell your audience why it matters to them. In the process, you might realize it doesn’t matter to the audience after all.
- "Sign up for our webinar." Instead say "Reserve your spot and learn about……"
- "[company name ] recognized as blah, blah, blah" See number 4.
It doesn't make you a bad person and it’s not a bad thing to be self-centered from a survival viewpoint. We humans are self-centered whether we want to admit it or not. It’s an evolutionary trait. Our cave dwelling ancestors who did not focus on themselves did not survive. Their non-self-centered genes were not passed along to subsequent generations as a result of their demise. As marketers, it's natural to bring our egocentric selves to the job. We want to tell our own story. We're proud of our companies and our products. We want to tell everyone about our products, services and company. We want to tell everyone about our greatness. We think that by vociferously tooting our own horn, our audience will also start to think we're great. We think (perhaps hope) our audience will demonstrate their love and admiration by buying the stuff we are selling. We, we, we, we…
If you want to gain awareness, credibility and top-of-mind awareness throughout your target audience, stop talking about your company and your products. Effective awareness content, strategy and tactics are audience centric and help the people in the target audience to be better at something that matters to them. Yes, you want to help them with something related to your firm’s experts and expertise. Why give away all this free help? You give it away because the recipient will want to reciprocate when the day comes around and they need or want to purchase the thing that you offer to the market.
Why is this concept so important? Think about yourself as you ponder a considered purchase. Let’s use the automobile as an example. Do you really care if Toyota is the global leader in factory efficiency? No. You care if it means you get a lower price because of the efficiency. BMW doesn’t talk about its engine, or its braking system, or its ISO 9001 certification. BMW talks about ‘the ultimate driving machine’ because it’s about your driving experience, not about their car. Note, BMW never says “Buy our high quality car” or "we're the leader in luxury cars".
Back in the Industrial Age, we-weing all over yourself worked. In those ancient times of the last half of the 20th century, we buyers didn’t have much choice but to listen to companies pontificate, brag and boast about themselves and their products. The messages were few and far between compared to the modern age. Now, we do have a lot of choice about what we listen to and what we filter out. And, guess what, all of the companies still talking about themselves and their products all sound the same. It’s boring. We, the people in the target audience, don’t care. When we ask our selves, "WIIFM", we quickly answer "nothing". When they all sound the same and we’re bored with their self-centered, egotistical messages, we go to lowest price. Boom. Lowest price means lower profit, fewer employees and a minimal or negative growth trajectory.
However, if one of the myriad companies in a certain space, provides me with some information or some content that helps me solve my problem whether I buy from them or not, I consciously or subconsciously place them ahead of the rest because they care about me, the potential customer. I’m even willing to pay a little more because I want to reciprocate.
89% of B2B marketers claim they use content marketing in their marketing mix according to the
recently published research at Content Marketing Institute. If you’re one of those 89%, take a moment and look at one of your white papers, infographics, webinars, blog posts, etc. Count the first person pronouns and the company name used in the possessive. Count the second person pronouns. If the first person pronouns outnumber the second person pronouns, chances are good that you are we-weing all over yourself and your content is not engaging with your audience. This is a huge opportunity for manufacturers!
Treat the people in your target audience as the egocentric humans that we all personify. Give them something that matters to their lives. As a marketer, when you create ads, papers, webinars, web pages, etc. check your own self-centered tendencies, thoughts and actions at the door as you enter your work space. Effective content focuses on the pain or passion of the people in your target audience and helps them to relieve the pain or fan the passion. Change your content from we-we to you-you.