One of the most powerful things we can do to gain our customers’ emotional investment is to make them feel represented, make them feel heard. For much the same reason that the most successful therapists relate with their patients, brands that exhibit relatability experience higher levels of brand loyalty.
In practice, content marketing goes beyond simply grabbing a prospective customer’s attention, or even their wallet—what the most influential brands really seek is to understand how to speak their target audience’s language in order to gain their trust and sustained interest.
The root factor here is trust—and building that trust is how you, too, can turn more prospects into loyal, returning customers. Let’s dig in.
Content marketing isn’t your standard copy
The concept of content marketing has been around for ages. Birthed with the idea to communicate rather than advertise, and exponentially fueled by the internet, this field focuses not on making quick sales, but on building long-term rapport with new and existing customers.
When marketers like us get in touch with our potential customers, we’re opening dialogue in order to deliver content. Rather than blatantly selling to a prospect, we’re offering to solve their problems. By delivering well-timed, valuable information and advice, we give them a friendly nudge toward eventually paying for more.
The question then becomes: how can we make that process even more effective? That answer lies in the very words and phrases our target audiences use in their day-to-day.
enemy customer 👌
Successful content marketing has a lot to do with consumer psychology. Knowing what makes your target users tick can give you the insight you need in order to engage them in relevant ways. The goal is to represent them, after all; when they see that your company stands for who they are, that you understand them, they’re effectively convinced that they relate to you—and instantly become more open to your influence.
Building this kind of rapport in a way people can trust is strategic, yet honest; calculated, yet respectful. And, like any discipline, it takes practice and knowledge to master. So how can we start mastering it today?
Research your target audience
In order to relate to your customer, the first thing you need to do is actually get to know them. Remember, you aren’t just talking to some faceless buyer persona that you devised in a marketing brainstorm. To avoid dehumanizing your customers in the process of understanding them, you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and do some fieldwork.
When you’re already in communications with a customer, it’s pretty simple to develop a more detailed profile on which to base your responses. But what about if you aren’t talking to them yet?
Find customer profiles online
The vast majority of consumers and businesses already have some kind of presence online these days, which gives your learning process a head start the likes of which advertisers could only dream of 20 years ago. Think of this process like online dating, but with less swiping through photos and more emphasis on learning about who they are. For the purpose of understanding customers on both a specific and generalized basis, the prevalence of social media is truly a godsend for professional and self-proclaimed marketers alike. Use it.
Even a simple scan through a target prospect’s Twitter or Instagram can tell you worlds about how to go about talking to them—personal blogs, websites, and portfolios are even better! It’s pretty easy to figure out someone’s pain points when they’re openly written in what’s essentially a public diary.
Learning these details can also give you a head start on those buyer personas we touched on, making it that much easier to market to future audiences.
Learn the lingo! (Your audience’s word choices and vernacular)
One crucial skill in writing is the ability to write with a voice, whether it be a blog post or anything else. It’s what makes a piece fun to read, and keeps it from sounding like some dry academic paper. When it comes to fields like content marketing, it’s equally important to be able to emulate someone else’s voice.
As humans, we generally find ourselves more comfortable talking to people who speak similarly to us. We also tend to incorporate our friends’ vocabulary into our own speech patterns and conversational nuances. In the same way, marketing verbiage that can harmonize with the voice of its customer is marketing that feels as effortless and enticing as love at first sight.
Ask the right questions, observe how they speak, and emulate it. Are they comedic? Casual? What’s their typical vocabulary? Do they sound like a soccer mom sharing pics on Facebook, or an executive in a board meeting? Do they use hip lingo or do they prefer to communicate formally? From there, you can gauge the manner of speech that makes them feel most at ease.
Get acquainted with their mission statement and pain points
During your research, the red X on the treasure map is your customer’s own mission statement. It probably won’t be phrased like a textbook mission statement (unless they have a pretty in-depth “About Me”), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be read between the lines of their status updates.
When you learn to not only recognize your customers’ pain points, but also demonstrate that you actually understand them, you can convince a low-awareness customer that you really can help. But you can’t just flash your amazing solution in their face and expect them to welcome you with open arms. This is where some good old-fashioned empathy comes in.
The key here is discovering what your customers desire in life—what they need, and why they need it. With that information, you can really drive home how whatever it is you’re promoting suits those needs.
Be consistent in your communication
Consistency might sound antithetical to personalizing the methods to the customer, but bear with me.
Let’s say you manage to catch a prospect’s interest—but when they visit your website, everything looks like it was written by an entirely different person (which it may have been, but you don’t want that to be obvious.) If the content doesn’t maintain its own character, you risk consumers feeling thrown off—or even lied to.
Your brand needs to have a personality of sorts, its own voice. This doesn’t mean keeping a rigidly undeviating persona—quite the opposite! Personalities can be flexible in a way—even human behavior adapts to different surroundings and people, while still remaining true to one’s core self. Consider how you act around family as opposed to amongst friends; your personality is consistent, but each situation is better suited by different demeanors.
That’s the kind of flexibility you want to emulate when speaking to customers: personalized, but still in character. In fact, our good friends at Persosa are developing such an easy way to do this, it’s too good not to mention here:
Seriously, go check them out real quick. We’ll wait. And, no, we’re not getting paid referral fees to send you there—we just think they are truly providing a great way to personalize your brand voice and marketing message to each type of audience you’d like to target. Doing what their software helps with is what makes it possible to say the same thing do different folks in different ways—and be genuine and relatable to every single one of them.
Reflect your target audience’s beliefs
At the center of every brand is a set of core values—if you’re not already aware of them, ask yourself what your company stands for, and which kinds of customers, partners, or investors you might not be willing to do business with. Therein lie your brand values.
It’s essential to portray these values to your customer, and—maybe even more importantly—introduce them in a way that relates to the customer’s own beliefs, drawing a connection that will promote a sense of trust.
From the numerous studies on the concept, a potential reason that we trust others is a subconscious friend-or-foe mechanism. Reflecting the customer’s own values encourages their mind to categorize you as an ally, making them that much more likely to listen.
If you market without a sense of empathy, you’re making customers feel like they’re just being thoughtlessly targeted by a profit-hungry machine. Just like in personal relationships, empathy in marketing means considering and respecting your customers’ feelings, putting their wants and needs before your own—even when that sometimes goes against what you’d rather be doing.
You aren’t here to talk about you—not your services, prices, or inspirational backstory. You’re contacting your customer about them. Their struggles, their frustrations, and how you personally want to help. Show customers that you truly care, and they’ll want to engage with you all the more.
The solution is in the content
Successfully representing and connecting with our beloved customers is tricky, but it’s the best way to earn their trust and engagement. With these concepts in mind, you can work out how to best communicate to customers why your product or service is the right solution to their problems. Even so, producing content that really embodies the professional goals of any company is pretty hard.
This was just the tip of the iceberg. Lucky for you, it doesn’t have to be! PubLoft gathers the best writers, resources, and industry professionals to make it easy. Quality content, written and designed just for you. Reach out to us on our website live chat with questions, or inquire about one of our paid plans if you’re itching to give it a try! We look forward to helping you build targeted inbound marketing strategy that truly represents your target audience by speaking their language and making your brand feel like home sweet home.