As children, we learn how to ask questions, share our opinions politely and work well with others.
Of course, mastering the art of conversation is a process that never ends. We each have our own conversational roadblocks to overcome, and the only way to do that is with constant practice.
The same can be said for the marketing and PR industries, as we find ourselves challenged by the impact of buyer 2.0.
Until digital channels opened up new avenues for discovering and sharing information, the interactions that businesses had with potential customers revolved primarily around the transaction. The sales pitch and advertisements ruled the day.
However, today’s customers are researching their options, eliminating potential vendors, and making decisions on their own. By the time someone contacts your organization to discuss a purchase, most of the buying cycle has already occurred.
Don’t look at this as a problem, though.
Our white paper Understanding How Buyer 2.0 Impacts Your Approaches to Demand Generation lays out the incredible opportunity we face as public relations and marketing professionals.
“Buyers favor what PR firms and departments can best deliver—informative, story-driven content,” it reads. “But PR professionals must improve and rethink the way they create and distribute their messages, aligning them with the buyer’s journey.”
To understand your buyer’s journey in a way that’s truly productive, the sales pitch must be replaced with conversations backed by data and research.
All day, every day, your organization is interacting with potential and current customers. Face-to-face meetings, phone calls, online interactions, and industry events are all powerful tools in learning how to create and promote marketing content that connects with this audience. In turn, the content you create based off of these interactions can even be used to enable future conversations.
The point of every conversation – be it direct (call, email, etc.) or indirect (online content) — is to establish and develop a mutually beneficial partnership with your audience.
Discover what will be beneficial and relevant to your audience by asking questions and listening to their answers.
What does your audience care about?
The first time you meet a new person, you say hello and learn something about them. These early exchanges provide context that will inform future conversations.
Similarly, you need to gather background information about your brand’s target audience by asking them who they are and what they care about. Background questions to ask your audience can include:
- Can you tell me about yourself?
- How do you go about your day?
- What challenges do you face?
- What does success in overcoming these challenges look like?
Note: ‘Can you tell me about yourself?’ should be broken down into more specific demographic questions..
What are your audience’s plans for today and tomorrow?
With the above information in hand, you can begin to assess your audience’s state of affairs and where they want to go.
Your audience’s current and future plans can uncover content ideas that help them achieve their dreams. Ask questions such as:
- What are your goals and what are you currently doing to achieve them?
- What sort of success have you been experiencing?
- What has been keeping you from achieving the success you want?
- What do you want to achieve in the future?