Marketing Minute: Generate More Leads By Thinking Like a Customer

From our sponsor: Too often we look at our products through our own eyes. We should be looking through the eyes of the customer. If you were buying from you, what information would you need?.

By Steve Krull

If you run a business, I’ll bet you have a “buyer persona document” in a dusty drawer somewhere.  A buyer persona should be the bible from which we create everything in our content strategy. Unfortunately, most buyer personas don’t do the job. To be honest, most buyer personas are terrible, and that’s because they focus on the wrong thing.

Is our buyer a “Marketing Mark” or a “Marketing Mary”? It will often read something like this: They drink non-dairy, no-foam latte and prefer to take the train. They are well educated, love pets, have 2.63 children, and have 8-10 years experience in their industry. How does our product or service fit into their day? And how can we convince them that they should buy from us?

That last part isn’t wrong, but because we don’t understand or ask enough, we struggle with it.

The difference between buying and selling

We have this idea that buying and selling is the same thing.

Customer X wants to buy…

We want to sell…

We’re a match made in heaven, right?

Wrong. It’s wrong because there’s a gap between that “want to buy” and “want to sell.” In marketing and business we struggle with this, and that’s because too often we look at our products through our own eyes. When you add in that we never stop selling, the buyer can have a really hard time making a decision. We should be looking through the eyes of the customer.

Think about the last time you made a purchase. What were you thinking? Perhaps you had a problem to fix, or you were really worried about things you couldn’t solve. It could be demand-driven, too: I need to get this thing so my partner gets off my back so I can watch the game.

Those are customer questions we should be thinking about. And they’re how you’re going to get more qualified leads.

What your buyer personas should tell you

Once you’ve scrunched up those old buyer personas (if you haven’t thrown them out yet, do it now. I can wait). Done? Okay. Now, put yourself in your buyer’s shoes.

And start asking questions: What are you thinking about at work? What challenges are you facing that you just can’t get over with the tools you have right now? What keeps you up at night?

Is it this? “That marketing meeting is tomorrow, and my lead-gen numbers are horrible because we don’t have the tools to get our messaging out properly and track leads. Now I’m going to get fired.” 

What would make your life and job so much easier to the point you might just, almost, fall back in love with the thing you do for a living? What information do you need to have that could help you do your job better today? Or what do you need to convince your boss to finally make the investment in that new software, or whatever it is, in your business.

Once you know these things, you’ll be able to start creating content that actually informs your customers. That makes you stand out. That makes them trust you and come to your business for help. Sounds great doesn’t it? Which is why it’s so strange that many businesses don’t do it.

Instead, what they think is: “How can we sell this new product we’ve developed and how many sales messages do we need to create around it?”

But here’s the thing. Customers don’t really care about the success of your business. They don’t even care about your product. Not really. There are probably 100 more just like it.

What they do care about is their problem and finding the information they need to make the right decision for them.

Closing the sales gap

Once you’ve taken the time to create improved buyer personas, you’ll notice a strange thing happen. You’ll notice how you’re creating content that focuses on helping customers solve a problem, rather than selling to them.

And then another weird thing will happen. Because you’re not going in with the hard sell all the time, your customers will consume more of your content. And then more. And then more.

Then, before you know it, you’ll have gained their trust. And once you’ve got that, they’ll be willing to buy from you without having to push your products on them. Because as people, we believe in give and take. We can’t help it.

If someone gives us something, we almost feel an obligation to give them something back. That’s where your content comes in. By giving content away, along with all the advice, guidance and help you’ve offered, your customers will attach themselves to you. And when it’s time to buy, you’ll be the one they trust to deliver.

Now I talk to a lot of people about this, and one thing that constantly comes up is: “But if we’re giving customers the information to solve their own problems, why would they pay us to solve it for us?”

The answer to that is simple. Because there’s a huge difference between reading information on solving a problem and actually trying to do it yourself. You can read all the books you want on how to install plumbing in your home. But when you’re soaked, and the water is pouring through the walls three hours later, you’re going to call the experts.

And it’s the same with your customers. They can read about how to solve a problem on their own. But they understand they need help—that they can’t do everything on their own.

And because you’ve built that trust with them by focusing on their issues and answering their questions with your content, you’re going to be the one they come to for help when they’re ready to pay for it.

If you were buying from you, what would you need?

Again, think like a customer. Most marketing departments think, “What kind of content do we want to create that will look cool and show we’re actually doing something?”

But if you were buying from you, what would you need to make a decision? Maybe you would need a flashy demo video. Maybe a 10,000-word guide will help. Or maybe it’s just an FAQ page to answer some final questions.

The point is, put yourself in your customer’s shoes when thinking about the kind of content to create. If they’re in a busy department, will they have time to read your 25-page eBook? Or do they need a short, sharp (but detailed) blog? Who knows, it could be both!

By figuring this out, you’ll find it much easier to marry topics with the type of content. Generating leads isn’t easy, but it’s also not as hard as people make it out to be.

By getting into the minds of your customers, thinking like them, understanding their problems, their challenges and the information they need, you’ll be able to close the gap between sales and marketing and start generating high quality leads.

Steve Krull is CEO of Be Found Online. If you have any questions or need digital marketing help, reach out on Twitter (@SteveKrull) or on LinkedIn.

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