Tag Archive | "customer"

What the Local Customer Service Ecosystem Looks Like in 2019

Posted by MiriamEllis

Everything your brand does in the new year should support just one goal: better local customer service.

Does this sound too simple? Doesn’t marketing brim with a thousand different tasks? Of course — but if the goal of each initiative isn’t to serve the customer better, it’s time for a change of business heart. By putting customers, and their problems, at the absolute center of your brand’s strategy, your enterprise will continuously return to this heart of the matter, this heart of commerce.

What is local customer service in 2019?

It’s so much more than the face-to-face interactions of one staffer with one shopper. Rather, it’s a commitment to becoming an always-on resource that is accessible to people whenever, wherever and however they need it. A Google rep was recently quoted as saying that 46% of searches have a local intent. Mobile search, combined with desktop and various forms of ambient search, have established the local web as man’s other best friend, the constant companion that’s ever ready to serve.

Let’s position your brand to become that faithful helper by establishing the local customer service ecosystem:

Your Key to the Local Customer Service Ecosystem

At the heart sits the local customer, who wants to know:

  • Who can help them, who likes or dislikes a business, who’s behind a brand, who’s the best, cheapest, fastest, closest, etc.
  • What the answer is to their question, what product/service solves their problems, what businesses are nearby, what it’s like there, what policies protect them, what’s the phone number, the website URL, the email address, etc.
  • Where a business is located, where to find parking, where something is manufactured or grown, etc.
  • When a business is open, when sales or events are, when busiest times are, when to purchase specific products/services or book an appointment, etc.
  • Why a business is the best choice based on specific factors, why a business was founded, why people like/dislike a business, etc.
  • How to get to the business by car/bike/on foot, how to learn/do/buy something, how to contact the right person or department, how to make a complaint or leave feedback, how the business supports the community, etc.

Your always-on customer service solves all of these problems with a combination of all of the following:

In-store

Good customer service looks like:

  • A publicly accessible brand policy that protects the rights and defends the dignity of both employees and consumers.
  • Well-trained phone staff with good language skills, equipped to answer FAQs and escalate problems they can’t solve. Sufficient staff to minimize hold-times.
  • Well-trained consumer-facing staff, well-versed in policy, products and services. Sufficient staff to be easily-accessible by customers.
  • In-store signage (including after-hours messaging) that guides consumers towards voicing complaints in person, reducing negative reviews.
  • In-store signage/messaging that promotes aspects of the business that are most beneficial to the community. (philanthropy, environmental stewardship, etc.) to promote loyalty and word-of-mouth.
  • Cleanliness, orderliness and fast resolution of broken fixtures and related issues.
  • Equal access to all facilities with an emphasis on maximum consumer comfort and convenience.
  • Support of payment forms most popular with local customers (cash, check, digital, etc.), security of payment processes, and minimization of billing mistakes/hassles.
  • Correctly posted, consistent hours of operation, reducing inconvenience. Clear messaging regarding special hours/closures.
  • A brand culture that rewards employees who wisely use their own initiative to solve customers’ problems.

Website

Good customer service looks like:

  • Content that solves people’s problems as conveniently and thoroughly as possible in language that they speak. Everything you publish (home, about, contact, local landing pages, etc.) should pass the test of consumer usefulness.
  • Equal access to content, regardless of device.
  • Easily accessible contact information, including name, address, phone number, fax, email, text, driving directions, maps and hours of operation.
  • Signals of trustworthiness, such as reviews, licenses, accreditations, affiliations, and basic website security.
  • Signals of benefit, including community involvement, philanthropy, environmental protections, etc.
  • Click-to-call phone numbers.
  • Clear policies that outline the rights of the consumer and the brand.

Organic SERPs

Good customer service looks like:

  • Management of the first few pages of the organic SERPs to ensure that basic information on them is accurate. This includes structured citations on local business directories, unstructured citations on blog posts, news sites, top 10 lists, review sites, etc. It can also include featured snippets.
  • Management also includes monitoring of the SERPs for highly-ranked content that cites problems others are having with the brand. If these problems can be addressed and resolved, the next step is outreach to the publisher to demonstrate that the problem has been addressed.

Email

Good customer service looks like:

  • Accessible email addresses for customers seeking support and fast responses to queries.
  • Opt-in email marketing in the form of newsletters and special offers.

Reviews

Good customer service looks like:

  • Accuracy of basic business information on major review platforms.
  • Professional and fast responses to both positive and negative reviews, with the core goal of helping and retaining customers by acknowledging their voices and solving their problems.
  • Sentiment analysis of reviews by location to identify emerging problems at specific branches for troubleshooting and resolution.
  • Monitoring of reviews for spam and reporting it where possible.
  • Avoidance of any form of review spam on the part of the brand.
  • Where allowed, guiding valued customers to leave reviews to let the greater community know about the existence and quality of your brand.

Links

Good customer service looks like:

  • Linking out to third-party resources of genuine use to customers.
  • Pursuit of inbound links from relevant sites that expand customers’ picture of what’s available in the place they live, enriching their experience.

Tech

Good customer service looks like:

  • Website usability and accessibility for users of all abilities and on all browsers and devices (ADA compliance, mobile-friendliness, load speed, architecture, etc.)
  • Apps, tools and widgets that improve customers’ experience.
  • Brand accessibility on social platforms most favored by customers.
  • Analytics that provide insight without trespassing on customers’ comfort or right to privacy.

Social

Good customer service looks like:

  • Brand accessibility on social platforms most favored by customers.
  • Social monitoring of the brand name to identify and resolve complaints, as well as to acknowledge praise.
  • Participation for the sake of community involvement as opposed to exploitation. Sharing instead of selling.
  • Advocacy for social platforms to improve their standards of transparency and their commitment to protections for consumers and brands.

Google My Business

Good customer service looks like:

  • Embrace of all elements of Google’s local features (Google My Business listings, Knowledge Panels, Maps, etc.) that create convenience and accessibility for consumers.
  • Ongoing monitoring for accuracy of basic information.
  • Brand avoidance of spam, and also, reporting of spam to protect consumers.
  • Advocacy for Google to improve its standards as a source of community information, including accountability for misinformation on their platform, and basic protections for both brands and consumers.

Customers’ Problems are Yours to Solve

“$ 41 billion is lost each year by US companies following a bad customer experience.”
-
New Voice Media

When customers don’t know where something is, how something works, when they can do something, who or what can help them, or why they should choose one option over another, your brand can recognize that they are having a problem. It could be as small a problem as where to buy a gift or as large a problem as seeking legal assistance after their home has been damaged in a disaster.

With the Internet never farther away than fingertips or voices, people have become habituated to turning to it with most of their problems, hour by hour, year by year. Recognition of quests for help may have been simpler just a few decades ago when customers were limited to writing letters, picking up phones, or walking into stores to say, “I have a need.” Now, competitive local enterprises have to expand their view to include customer problems that play out all over the web with new expectations of immediacy.

Unfortunately, brands are struggling with this, and we can sum up common barriers to modern customer service in 3 ways:

1) Brand Self-Absorption

“I’ve gotta have my Pops,” frets a boy in an extreme (and, frankly, off-putting) example in which people behave as though addicted to products. TV ads are rife with the wishfulness of marketers pretending that consumers sing and dance at the mere idea of possessing cars, soda, and soap. Meanwhile, real people stand at a distance watching the song and dance, perhaps amused sometimes, but aware that what’s on-screen isn’t them.

“We’re awesome,” reads too much content on the web, with a brand-centric, self-congratulatory focus. At the other end of the spectrum, web pages sit stuffed with meaningless keywords or almost no text as all, as though there aren’t human beings trying to communicate on either side of the screen.

“Who cares?” is the message untrained employees, neglected shopping environments, and disregarded requests for assistance send when real-world locations open doors but appear to put customer experience as their lowest priority. I’ve catalogued some of my most disheartening customer service interludes and I know you’ve had them, too.

Sometimes, brands get so lost in boardrooms, it’s all they can think of to put in their million-dollar ad campaigns, forgetting that most of their customers don’t live in that world.

One of the first lightbulb moments in the history of online content marketing was the we-you shift. Instead of writing, “We’re here, isn’t that great?”, we began writing, “You’re here and your problem can be solved.” This is the simple but elegant evolution that brands, on the whole, need to experience.

2) Ethical Deficits

Sometimes, customers aren’t lost because a brand is too inwardly focused, but rather, because its executives lack the vision to sustain an ethical business model. Every brand is tasked with succeeding, but it takes civic-minded, customer-centric leadership to avoid the abuses we are seeing at the highest echelons of the business world right now. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, and similar majors have repeatedly failed to put people over profits, resulting in:

  • Scandals
  • Lawsuits
  • Fines
  • Boycotts
  • Loss of consumer trust
  • Employee loss of pride in company culture

At a local business level, and in a grand understatement, it isn’t good customer service when a company deceives or harms the public. Brands, large and small, want to earn the right of integration into the lives of their customers as chosen resources. Large enterprises seeking local customers need leadership that can envision itself in the setting of a single small community, where dishonest practices impact real lives and could lead to permanent closure. Loss of trust should never be an acceptable part of economies of scale.

The internet has put customers, staffers, and media all on the same channels. Ethical leadership is the key ingredient to building a sustainable business model in which all stakeholders take pride.

3) Lack of Strategy

Happily, many brands genuinely do want to face outward and possess the ethics to treat people well. They may simply lack a complete strategy for covering all the bases that make up a satisfying experience. Small local businesses may find lack of time or resources a bar to the necessary education, and structure at enterprises may make it difficult to get buy-in for the fine details of customer service initiatives. Priorities and budgets may get skewed away from customers instead of toward them.

The TL;DR of this entire post is that modern customer service means solving customers’ problems by being wherever they are when they seek solutions. Beyond that, a combination of sufficient, well-trained staff (both online and off) and the type of automation provided by tools that manage local business listings, reviews and social listening are success factors most brands can implement.

Reach Out…

We’ve talked about some negative patterns that can either distance brands from customers, or cause customers to distance themselves due to loss of trust. What’s the good news?

Every single employee of every local brand in the US already knows what good customer service feels like, because all of us are customers.

There’s no mystery or magic here. Your CEO, your devs, sales team, and everyone else in your organization already know by experience what it feels like to be treated well or poorly.

And they already know what it’s like when they see themselves reflected in a store location or on a screen.

Earlier, I cited an old TV spot in which actors were paid to act out the fantasy of a brand. Let’s reach back in time again and watch a similar-era commercial in which actors are paid to role play genuine consumer problems – in this case, a family that wants to keep in touch with a member who is away from home:

The TV family may not look identical to yours, but their featured problem – wanting to keep close to a distant loved one – is one most people can relate to. This 5-year ad campaign won every award in sight, and the key to it is that consumers could recognize themselves on the screen and this act of recognition engaged their emotions.

Yes, a service is being sold (long distance calling), but the selling is being done by putting customers in the starring roles and solving their problems. That’s what good customer service does, and in 2019, if your brand can parlay this mindset into all of the mediums via which people now seek help, your own “reach out and touch someone” goals are well on their way to success.

Loyal Service Sparks Consumer Loyalty

“Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to twenty times more expensive than retaining an existing one.”
Harvard Business Review

“Loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase.”
White House Office of Consumer Affairs

I want to close here with a note on loyalty. With a single customer representing up to 10x the value of their first purchase, earning a devoted clientele is the very best inspiration for dedication to improving customer service.

Trader Joe’s is a large chain that earns consistent mentions for its high standards of customer service. Being a local SEO, I turned to its Google reviews, looking at 5 locations in Northern California. I counted 225 instances of people exuberantly praising staff at just these 5 locations, using words like “Awesome, incredible, helpful, friendly, and fun!”. Moreover, reviewers continuously mentioned the brand as the only place they want to shop for groceries because they love it so much. It’s as close as you can get to a “gotta have my Pops” scenario, but it’s real.

How does Trader Joe’s pull this off? A study conducted by Temkin Group found that, “A customer’s emotional experience is the most significant driver of loyalty, especially when it comes to consumers recommending firms to their friends.” The cited article lists emotional connection and content, motivated employees who are empowered to go the extra mile as keys to why this chain was ranked second-highest in emotion ratings (a concept similar to Net Promoter Score). In a word, the Trader Joe’s customer service experience creates the right feelings, as this quick sentiment cloud of Google review analysis illustrates:

This brand has absolutely perfected the thrilling and lucrative art of creating loyal customers, making their review corpus read like a volume of love letters. The next move for this company – and for the local brands you market – is to “spread the love” across all points where a customer might seek to connect, both online and off.

It’s a kind of love when you ensure a customer isn’t misdirected by a wrong address on a local business listing or when you answer a negative review with the will to make things right. It’s a kind of love when a company blog is so helpful that its comments say, “You must be psychic! This is the exact problem I was trying to solve.” It’s a kind of love when a staff member is empowered to create such a good experience that a customer tells their mother, their son, their best friend to trust you brand.

Love, emotions, feelings — are we still talking about business here? Yes, because when you subtract the medium, the device, the screen, it’s two very human people on either side of every transaction.

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Building Better Customer Experiences – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by DiTomaso

Are you mindful of your customer’s experience after they become a lead? It’s easy to fall in the same old rut of newsletters, invoices, and sales emails, but for a truly exceptional customer experience that improves their retention and love for your brand, you need to go above and beyond. In this week’s episode of Whiteboard Friday, the ever-insightful Dana DiTomaso shares three big things you can start doing today that will immensely better your customer experience and make earning those leads worthwhile.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, Moz fans. My name is Dana DiTomaso. I’m the President and partner of Kick Point, and today I’m going to talk to you about building better customer experiences. I know that in marketing a lot of our jobs revolve around getting leads and more leads and why can’t we have all of the leads.

The typical customer experience:

But in reality, the other half of our job should be making sure that those leads are taken care of when they become customers. This is especially important if you don’t have, say, a customer care department. If you do have a customer care department, really you should be interlocking with what they do, because typically what happens, when you’re working with a customer, is that after the sale, they usually get surveys.

- Surveys

“How did we do? Please rate us on a scale of 1 to 10,” which is an enormous scale and kind of useless. You’re a 4, or you’re an 8, or you’re a 6. Like what actually differentiates that, and how are people choosing that?

- Invoices

Then invoices, like obviously important because you have to bill people, particularly if you have a big, expensive product or you’re a SaaS business. But those invoices are sometimes kind of impersonal, weird, and maybe not great.

- Newsletters

Maybe you have a newsletter. That’s awesome. But is the newsletter focused on sales? One of the things that we see a lot is, for example, if somebody clicks a link in the newsletter to get to your website, maybe you’ve written a blog post, and then they see a great big popup to sign up for our product. Well, you’re already a customer, so you shouldn’t be seeing that popup anymore.

What we’ve seen on other sites, like Help Scout actually does a great job of this, is that they have a parameter of newsletter at the end of any URLs they put in their newsletter, and then the popups are suppressed because you’re already in the newsletter so you shouldn’t see a popup encouraging you to sign up or join the newsletter, which is kind of a crappy experience.

- Sales emails

Then the last thing are sales emails. This is my personal favorite, and this can really be avoided if you go into account-based marketing automation instead of personal-based marketing automation.

We had a situation where I was a customer of the hosting company. It was in my name that we’ve signed up for all of our clients, and then one of our developers created a new account because she needed to access something. Then immediately the sales emails started, not realizing we’re at the same domain. We’re already a customer. They probably shouldn’t have been doing the hard sale on her. We’ve had this happen again and again.

So just really make sure that you’re not sending your customers or people who work at the same company as your customers sales emails. That’s a really cruddy customer experience. It makes it look like you don’t know what’s going on. It really can destroy trust.

Tips for an improved customer experience

So instead, here are some extra things that you can do. I mean fix some of these things if maybe they’re not working well. But here are some other things you can do to really make sure your customers know that you love them and you would like them to keep paying you money forever.

1. Follow them on social media

So the first thing is following them on social. So what I really like to do is use a tool such as FullContact. You can take everyone’s email addresses, run them through FullContact, and it will come back to you and say, “Here are the social accounts that this person has.” Then you go on Twitter and you follow all of these people for example. Or if you don’t want to follow them, you can make a list, a hidden list with all of their social accounts in there.

Then you can see what they share. A tool like Nuzzel, N-U-Z-Z for Americans, zed zed for Canadians, N-U-Z-Z-E-L is a great tool where you can say, “Tell me all the things that the people I follow on social or the things that this particular list of people on social what they share and what they’re engaged in.” Then you can see what your customers are really interested in, which can give you a good sense of what kinds things should we be talking about.

A company that does this really well is InVision, which is the app that allows you to share prototypes with clients, particularly design prototypes. So they have a blog, and a lot of that blog content is incredibly useful. They’re clearly paying attention to their customers and the kinds of things they’re sharing based on how they build their blog content. So then find out if you can help and really think about how I can help these customers through the things that they share, through the questions that they’re asking.

Then make sure to watch unbranded mentions too. It’s not particularly hard to monitor a specific list of people and see if they tweet things like, “I really hate my (insert what you are)right now,” for example. Then you can head that off at the pass maybe because you know that this was this customer. “Oh, they just had a bad experience. Let’s see what we can do to fix it,”without being like, “Hey, we were watching your every move on Twitter.Here’s something we can do to fix it.”

Maybe not quite that creepy, but the idea is trying to follow these people and watch for those unbranded mentions so you can head off a potential angry customer or a customer who is about to leave off at the pass. Way cheaper to keep an existing customer than get a new one.

2. Post-sale monitoring

So the next thing is post-sale monitoring. So what I would like you to do is create a fake customer. If you have lots of sales personas, create a fake customer that is each of those personas, and then that customer should get all the emails, invoices, everything else that a regular customer that fits that persona group should get.

Then take a look at those accounts. Are you awesome, or are you super annoying? Do you hear nothing for a year, except for invoices, and then, “Hey, do you want to renew?” How is that conversation going between you and that customer? So really try to pay attention to that. It depends on your organization if you want to tell people that this is what’s happening, but you really want to make sure that that customer isn’t receiving preferential treatment.

So you want to make sure that it’s kind of not obvious to people that this is the fake customer so they’re like, “Oh, well, we’re going to be extra nice to the fake customer.” They should be getting exactly the same stuff that any of your other customers get. This is extremely useful for you.

3. Better content

Then the third thing is better content. I think, in general, any organization should reward content differently than we do currently.

Right now, we have a huge focus on new content, new content, new content all the time, when in reality, some of your best-performing posts might be old content and maybe you should go back and update them. So what we like to tell people about is the Microsoft model of rewarding. They’ve used this to reward their employees, and part of it isn’t just new stuff. It’s old stuff too. So the way that it works is 33% is what they personally have produced.

So this would be new content, for example. Then 33% is what they’ve shared. So think about for example on Slack if somebody shares something really useful, that’s great. They would be rewarded for that. But think about, for example, what you can share with your customers and how that can be rewarding, even if you didn’t write it, or you can create a roundup, or you can put it in your newsletter.

Like what can you do to bring value to those customers? Then the last 33% is what they shared that others produced. So is there a way that you can amplify other voices in your organization and make sure that that content is getting out there? Certainly in marketing, and especially if you’re in a large organization, maybe you’re really siloed, maybe you’re an SEO and you don’t even talk to the paid people, there’s cool stuff happening across the entire organization.

A lot of what you can bring is taking that stuff that others have produced, maybe you need to turn it into something that is easy to share on social media, or you need to turn it into a blog post or a video, like Whiteboard Friday, whatever is going to work for you, and think about how you can amplify that and get it out to your customers, because it isn’t just marketing messages that customers should be seeing.

They should be seeing all kinds of messages across your organization, because when a customer gives you money, it isn’t just because your marketing message was great. It’s because they believe in the thing that you are giving them. So by reinforcing that belief through the types of content that you create, that you share, that you find that other people share, that you shared out to your customers, a lot of sharing, you can certainly improve that relationship with your customers and really turn just your average, run-of-the-mill customer into an actual raving fan, because not only will they stay longer, it’s so much cheaper to keep an existing customer than get a new one, but they’ll refer people to you, which is also a lot easier than buying a lot of ads or spending a ton of money and effort on SEO.

Thanks!

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How to Attract Your Ideal Customer with Perfectly Positioned Content

"You don’t just accept who you find — you choose who to attract." – Brian Clark

“Hello, I’m a Mac.”

“And I’m a PC.”

You remember Apple’s “Get a Mac” series of commercials that ran from May 2006 to October 2009?

The commercials were short vignettes featuring John Hodgman as the sweet-yet-bumbling PC and Justin Long as the creative, hip Mac.

Those 66 short spots were named the best advertising campaign of the previous decade by Adweek.

The success of the long-running campaign leads one to believe that Apple certainly knows who its ideal customer is. Of course they do … because they chose their ideal customer, right from the birth of the Macintosh itself.

That doesn’t mean that everyone responded favorably to the ads. While researching for this article, I ran across a commenter who maintained that the campaign had “backfired” because the PC character had actually been more appealing to him.

No, the campaign didn’t backfire (no one runs a series of ads for three years if they’re not working). Instead, Apple chose who not to attract as much as they chose who they hoped to convert.

Apple knew they were never going to get hardcore PC people to switch to a Mac. Instead, Apple used these 66 humorous little stories to target those who were more likely to “swing” toward Apple, after being educated about the benefits by the contrast between the two characters.

Sounds like really great content marketing to me. In fact, given the nature and duration of the Get a Mac campaign, it resembled serial online video marketing more than traditional advertising.

So, the first (and most important) step in our 3-step content marketing strategy is determining your “Who.”

Who do you want to attract and speak to, and just as importantly, who do you want to drive in the other direction? It all comes down to your values, first and foremost.

What are your core values?

Apple’s values were well reflected in the Get a Mac campaign — creativity, simplicity, and rebellion against the status quo. These core values were consistently present in the prior “Crazy Ones” campaign, and before that, the iconic “1984” ad.

Some feel that Apple has lost the ability to innovate since Steve Jobs passed. Whether or not that’s true, I think the perception of Apple has changed among those of us who were initially strongly attracted, because their advertising now, for the first time, tries to appeal to a more general audience.

Steve would definitely not approve.

Modern marketing is about matching up with the worldview of your ideal customer. Outside of a monopoly, there is no such thing as marketing that appeals to everyone, and yet, companies still try and routinely fail.

On the other hand, think of Patagonia. The founder of the outdoor clothing and gear company invented an aluminum climbing wedge that could be inserted and removed without damaging the rock face. This reflects Patagonia’s founding core value:

“Build the best products while creating no unnecessary environmental harm.”

Of course, not every company has a core value built into the founding story. Most businesses exist to simply sell things that people want, so it’s up to management to find the core values that they want to reflect in their marketing to attract the right kind of customer.

For example, there’s nothing inherently ethical about ice cream, beyond ingredients. So Ben & Jerry’s adopted the values of its two founders, which had nothing at all to do with ice cream.

Not everyone who likes ice cream necessarily agrees with reduced Pentagon spending and the fight against climate change, but the people who do care about those things turned Ben & Jerry’s into an iconic brand.

It doesn’t have to be all sunshine and light, either. If your core values fall in line with a “Greed is good” mentality, you’ll certainly find people out there who share this worldview. You just have to unflinchingly own it.

You need to understand who you’re talking to, yes. But you don’t just accept who you find — you choose who to attract.

What does your character look like?

In the Get a Mac campaign, Apple literally created a character that personified what their ideal “swing” customer aspired to be. It’s time for us to do the same.

You can call them personas or avatars if you like — I prefer character. That’s because the first step is the research that allows you to create a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer.

As far as fiction goes, we’re creating a character that will be the protagonist in their own purchasing journey that your content will help them complete. Since this journey is based on as much reality as we can glean from our research, it’s more like a fictionalized drama “based on actual people and events.”

When I say the prospect is the protagonist, that means the hero. Your content is a powerful gift that positions your brand as a guide that helps the hero complete the journey that solves their problem. If this sounds like Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey to you, nice work — we’ll elaborate on this aspect in the “What” portion of the strategy.

This journey does not take place in the context of you wanting to sell more stuff. It’s understanding how the prospect thinks, feels, sees, and behaves in the context of solving the problem that sets them on the journey in the first place.

And don’t forget about instilling them with your shared core values. Why would this person choose you to assist them on the journey, out of a sea of other choices?

Because you already see the world like they do in an important way, and they’ll pick up on that shared worldview immediately upon coming across your content. Your core values are your secret attraction spell.

Instead of hiding your world views in the hope of never offending anyone, you now realize the power of being loud and proud — and attracting like-minded people who see you as the only reasonable choice.

Now, most people don’t end up using this representative character in their content, like Apple did with Justin Long in the Get a Mac commercials. It’s really a composite to refer back to so that you never lose sight of who you’re talking to, what you should say, and how you should say it.

On the other hand, the Get a Mac commercials were just two guys standing and talking in front of a minimalist, all-white background. If you’re thinking in terms of online video marketing, you could do a lot worse than looking to this campaign for inspiration.

And think about your explainer videos. Wouldn’t a character that represents who you’re talking to give you an edge over competing marketing approaches?

At a minimum, contemplating the actual use of the character in your content will force you to get things just right. Let’s look at a method for doing that.

You are not your audience

Given that you’re seeking to attract people who share your values, it’s tempting to overly identify with your audience. While you’re going to have things in common, it’s dangerous to think your ideal customer is similar to you in other ways.

You’re a subject matter expert at what you do, for starters, and they are not.

You need to make sure you don’t fall victim to the curse of knowledge, a cognitive bias that occurs when a person with expertise unknowingly assumes that others have the background to understand.

This one assumption alone can sink your content marketing efforts. Plus, you don’t want to assume that the audience shares other characteristics that you have — you want to know, as well as you can, what they’re thinking, feeling, seeing, and doing.

In other words, for you to have the empathy to walk the buyer’s journey in their shoes, you must first see things from their perspective. Then you’ll be in a position to create the content that “coaches” them along the journey.

Let’s take a closer look at empathy, the definition of which consists of two parts:

  1. The intellectual identification with the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
  2. The vicarious experiencing of those feelings, thoughts, or attitudes.

It’s often said you want to enter the conversation that’s already playing in your prospect’s head. By matching up values and worldviews, you’re also aiming to enter the conversation in the prospect’s heart, and that’s how your marketing triggers the right motivation at the right time.

The process we use for achieving this is called empathy mapping. At the foundation of the exercise is this statement: “Our ideal customer needs a better way to ____ BECAUSE ____.”

Empathy maps vary in shapes and sizes, but there are basic elements common to each one:

  • Four quadrants broken into “Thinking,” “Seeing,” “Doing,” and “Feeling”
  • Two optional boxes at the bottom of the quadrants: “Pains” and “Gains”

empathy-map

To get started, you can download and print a large version of the empathy map above here.

The map allows you to easily organize all of your research and other relevant materials. The four quadrants represent the sensory experience of your ideal customer while in the prospect phase.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What does a typical day look like in their world?
  • How do they think about their fears and hopes?
  • How do they feel about the problem your product solves?
  • What are they thinking when they resist solving the problem?
  • What do they hear when other people solve the problem?
  • Who do they see as viable options to solve the problem?
  • What do they see when they use your product? What is the environment?
  • What do they say or feel when using your product?
  • What are their pain points when using your product?
  • Is this a positive or a painful experience for them?
  • Do they hear positive feedback about your company from external sources?
  • What do they hope to gain from using your product?

Jot down needs and insights that emerge as you work through this exercise. Then simply paste those notes in the proper boxes on the large empathy map.

At the bottom of your empathy map, you can also draw two boxes: “Pains” and “Gains.”

In the “Pains box,” you can put your customers’ challenges and obstacles. Ask, “What keeps my customer up at night?”

In the “Gains” box, include the goals your customers hope to accomplish. Ask, “What motivates my customer to solve their problem?” and “What are their hopes and dreams?”

Now … describe your character in detail

You’re now ready to create a written composite of your character. Some people do several paragraphs, or perhaps a page of description. You, being the smart person that you are, might consider taking it further by creating a character bible, just like novelists and screenwriters do.

In this context, a character bible is a detailed outline that lays out everything about your prospect in one place, so you can easily access their personality, problems, and desires. It may seem like a lot of work, but you’ll be happy you did it once you start coming up with the “What” and the “How” of your content marketing strategy.

Next week, we’ll look at figuring out “what” information your prospect must have to complete their journey with you. You’ll go from stepping into your prospect’s shoes to walking the buyer’s journey with them.

The post How to Attract Your Ideal Customer with Perfectly Positioned Content appeared first on Copyblogger.


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A Seemingly Minor Fact-Checking Tip that Yields Top-Notch Customer Service

people watch woman writing on whiteboard - copyblogger

When I was a cub copy editor, I learned a simple fact-checking technique that is still one of my favorites today.

It may seem unimportant, but if you don’t use this technique and fail to catch a certain type of mistake, you could set yourself up for extra work later.

This is one of my favorites because it demonstrates that reviewing your copy and content for accuracy goes beyond checking for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Check for day/date discrepancies

I told you it’s simple.

Whenever you see a day of the week and a date in your text, check that the day of the week matches the date mentioned.

You might write a day and date when you announce and/or discuss in-person events, webinars, or live Q&As.

Here’s how it works

Let’s say you’re inviting your email subscribers to a webinar that will be held on Wednesday, December 29, 2016. You’ve edited and proofread the content already. It looks great … except, this year Wednesday is December 28.

If you send your content with “Wednesday, December 29, 2016” in the announcement, you could leave interested webinar attendees wondering if the webinar is Wednesday, December 28 or Thursday, December 29.

Since “Wednesday, December 29, 2016” doesn’t exist, your content is unclear without this type of fact-checking and could lead to inquiries from your audience.

When you get it right before you publish, you stop questions from confused prospects before they happen.

If your copy and content is accurate, there is no room for confusion. Readers won’t have any trouble understanding your message, and you won’t have to clarify later.

You’ll avoid having to notify your audience again with the correct information.

Tools you need

Keep a calendar handy whenever you edit and proofread.

I like using a paper calendar, and I have one on my desk where I can easily see days of the week and dates for each month.

A digital calendar on your computer or phone works just as well.

The trick is to stop reading your content and check the calendar every time you get to a mention of a day of the week and a date.

Also, when you pause to verify the day/date, make sure you don’t skip the text around it. Carefully proofread the rest of the sentence too.

Bonus tip

Starting January 1, 2017, remember to write “2017” instead of “2016.”

Copy editors are like kids in a candy store during the first month of the year when they spot and correct a lot of erroneous mentions of the previous year.

Don’t give them that satisfaction. ”</p

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SearchCap: Google AdWords customer match, responsive ads & Apple indoor maps

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google AdWords customer match, responsive ads & Apple indoor maps appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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