Why your content has to be bigger than your product or service

An important visitor is ringing your doorbell and she doesn’t have much time, several seconds actually. Neither do you. But time is not your only problem. Your bigger problem? You can’t shake your visitor’s hand or look her in the eye. Because she’s just landed on your website.

How are you going to reach through that barrier and touch her?

ring doorbellNot through elusive metaphors or product descriptions. Not through fancy graphics or blaring headlines. And not necessarily through special offers or freebies either. You have to get into your customer’s world and invite them into yours. That’s what content is all about.

Job no. 1 is to establish your streetcred. Show that your product or service has helped other people (reviews). Present information about the use and value of your product (in digestible chunks) before you offer them the BUY button. Show them some of the useful information they’re going to get in your newsletter before you ask (or expect) them to sign up for it.

Challenging Client

I was recently working with a client who seemed to be having a hard time getting into her customer’s world. She kept dismissing my questions about the benefits her customers received from her service. She was a professional organizer. Of course there were the obvious benefits, such as being able to find a document, a sense of order, a visually pleasing space, etc.

But I was in search of the signature benefit (also called the Unique Value Proposition), that something special, the one thing that would really resonate with the customer. No matter how I probed, I couldn’t get to it. She just wanted to list her services.

So finally I asked her to write two letters. One to a current customer thanking them for using her service. The other to someone she imagined had just landed on her website and was feeling a little awkward. (I figured no one wants to admit they need help organizing their stuff, right?) I told her to make it very personal and direct. Like speaking to a friend.

The day before our next meeting, she called me up and asked if she could read the letters to me over the phone. Not understanding her reason, but sensing it was important to her, I said sure.

The first was a polite letter of appreciation. The second was a total tear-jerker. She told the story about how, several years ago, her house was so cluttered that she was ashamed to invite friends over, how her fiancé broke up with her over it when he finally saw the chaos–layers of clothing and books and paper bags that reached to the ceiling in some areas. How this motivated her to take a professional organizing course at her local junior college. And changed her life.

Here was a business owner who understood her customer’s need (and pain) at a profound level. Whose story would touch them, if she was willing to tell it. (She was). Now that she no longer has the website, she’s given me permission to share her story. Last year I got an email from her saying she had married the love of her life (a different guy!) and moved to Paris where she manages a thriving antique shop.

horse_drinking_tea_by_kittyninjafish-d5dndxuIt’s true. You can sometimes lead a mare to water but can’t always make her drink. But if you understand what’s she’s looking for and are willing to inspire her with your story, she might stay for tea (and sign up for your newsletter).

The content will compel her.

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