Writing web and email content can sometimes push you right to the edge of your comfort zone — if you’re doing it right.
When I was selling semiconductor equipment in Silicon Valley, I’ll never forget the time a potential customer asked me why my company chose to outsource a specific component instead of create a unified piece of hardware all under one roof.
Knowing that our competition proudly built this particular part in-house (and probably used it as a selling point), I felt that this customer was implying that outsourcing made for a weaker system.
I braced myself and answered the truth, which was that our supplier was world-famous for this particular piece of engineering…why re-invent the wheel when it was flawlessly manufactured elsewhere? It was made by the best and it worked perfectly with our software.
Well, that wasn’t the end of it. He needed convincing by some of our top engineers, but at least his question moved the discussion forward!
Seek out people who challenge you — and write better content and marketing copy.
Ever notice how the most challenging questions are the ones that push you furthest? Most of the time the people who ask them are not hostile, they are just people who are driven to mobilize a decision or solution fast.
When you write copy and create content, you may find it challenging to answer the tough questions these “mobilizers” might ask. It helps to know what makes them tick.
According to this illuminating HBR article about solution selling, sales people who sell B2B are often taught to gravitate to the very people who are least equipped to influence a purchase. They are friendly, yes. They are talkers, yes. They are informative “people persons” who can tell you all about their company. All well and good. Every organization needs people like this.
But are they the ones who drive change, or make risky decisions? No. The following personalities do, though. If you’re in the business of content creation, recognize these people and keep them in mind as you write.
“Difficult people” and the thrill of helping them meet their goals
Go-Getters: These people are action oriented people who don’t care where the good idea comes from, as long as it moves the company or their business forward. Their energy sizzles and zaps with ambition.
Teachers: They are as passionate about finding answers as they are about sharing them. People often consult them for their insights and take their advice if they recommend a specific course of action. They know what they’re talking about and how to translate it to others. They are proud of their status as a “go-to” resource.
Skeptics: They’re the ones who demand simple, clear, concise solutions. They put up roadblocks if a course of action is confusing, has too many steps, or is too large to get their arms around. Even if they appreciate the destination, they need to know and understand each measured step, every inch of the way.
The difference between personas and personalities
When we talk about buyer personas, we’re referring more to demographics like the physical and professional attributes of someone who is very likely to be a customer of yours.
When addressing potential clients and customers, either in person or in your content creation, remember that their personalities can be totally different. For example, if your ideal client is a bookkeeper, she probably shares personality traits with other bookkeepers, like attention to detail and an aptitude for math. But don’t assume that all bookkeepers are, well, “bookish.” They may be warm and easy-going or fiercely resistant to change; slow to make decisions or quick to test something new. You just never know.
Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid of the tough rebuttals and questions you encounter. Producing content for your audience moves the wheels of a sale forward. And that means kicking up a little mud now and then.
Tell me, have you ever had to answer a tough question that illuminated something more? something better? Please share!
Photo credit: Flickr CC, Witco.gmbh