7 Questions to Solve Your Customers’ Content Marketing Problems
Successful Copywriting Starts with Asking “Why?”
Smart copywriters ask questions. They find the kernel of truth in a brand and bring it to life in a powerful way through content marketing. No short cuts, OK?
I’ve written before for KISSmetrics about asking questions like my four-year-old son, Crosby, and darned if Omar Johnson, CMO of Beats by Dre, doesn’t agree:
“We don’t just stop at the insight—I tell my team to act like a three-year-old and keep asking why,” he says. “If we ask an athlete how they use music to prepare for a game, they might say they just like it as part of their pre-game, it gets their head ready, helps them focus. From there most brands would ask about what songs they like, the athlete gives them a list and they consider that insightful. We continue to ask why. That’s how we get to interesting insights into how athletes use our headphones.” -Fast Company, 2014
When it comes to finding a voice and a message for content marketing, the most common question I’m asked from other advertising and marketing copywriters is this:
What do I ask my customers when I interview them?
Answer 1: I prefer to interview not only my customers, but their top sales people and customer service people.
Answer 2: I kinda stole it from Perry Marshall. Kinda. But I have no secrets, so read everything about Perry Marshall that you can.
Perry calls it his Swiss Army Knife Blade #1. I have no idea what the other blades are, but I suspect one is a magnifying glass and the other is a bottle opener so I can enjoy my IPA on a camping trip.
Here are my favorite 7 customer questions, starting with WHY (it always starts with WHY):
1. Why should your prospect care about you and your product? (This isn’t from Perry Marshall, thank you very much.)
2. No, seriously. Why should they care?
3. Yeah, but that’s no big deal. Everybody offers that. Why should they REALLY care? (Your client will now start to get irritated. Awesome. Back them into a corner to replicate a true sales pitch. Make them sweat. Your client will hem and haw and talk about customer service and thought leadership and crap like that which means nothing to no one. Dig! By the time you ask this for the third time, you’ve got your answer.)
4.What does your customer love when you do it right? (Get specific stories.)
5. What does your customer hate when your competitors do it wrong? (You get great nuggets here on what NOT to do, which helps in PPC ads.)
6. What does your customer lose sleep over? (Perry Marshall asks this: What’s your customer’s worst enemy?) I’ve found that this question tends to lead to meandering answers. I often bill by the hour, so yeah, I should ask this question, but still, be a professional and ask my question instead).
7. What is the one thing your customer wants from this transaction? Nope. Not two things. One thing. (Perry asks: What’s your customer’s best friend?) Again, I worship Perry, but this question is nebulous and leads to more questions that eventually gets to the heart of the matter. Every single person wants one thing. Don’t fall for “money” or “profits.” Dig deeper, people!
Be like Beats by Dre and keep asking why.
When you get an answer you’re not satisfied with, pause. Then ask, “yeah, but why?”
Like my son Crosby, “just because” won’t cut it. You want answers, by god.
When you get these answers, often in the heat of battle, with your customer on the defensive, THIS is when you get to the heart of the matter. This is when you get the nugget that will topple your customers’ competitors.
Don’t settle for average answers.
Don’t settle for “just because.”
Be a four-year-old.
Tug on your customer’s shirts until they snap.
That’s how you find content marketing magic.
So what irks your client’s prospects? What pleases your client’s prospects? Find them, then go write about those things. Again and again.
You know who can help? David Ogilvy. Here’s a cheat sheet which lists his (and my) favorite copywriting tips.
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