By Larry Kunz
posted on December 03, 2009 09:10
This week I listened (on Twitter) to an interview in which B2B marketing expert Ardath Albee spoke of the need to align the company's marketing messages—and its whole content strategy—to the buyers with whom it wants to do business.
Albee encourages companies to engage in a “conversational” dialog with buyers, and to align their outgoing messages with “buyer questions” rather than with traditional pain points. The difference, she explained, is that buyer questions “get beneath the pain points. What are the underlying issues? What overlaps? What personal concerns impact choice?”
Albee maintains that when enterprises engage potential customers in dialogs like this, they're more likely to attract and keep business. I think she's right, and I also think that her advice extends beyond the B2B segment to just about every marketing relationship. Success comes from remembering that customers are people who bring their concerns, their questions, and their feelings to every transaction.
Guess what? This is the same principle that we've espoused in technical communication for as long as I can remember: know your audience. We don't think of our audience in abstract terms, as a collection of statistics. Instead, we think of them as real people because that's what they are. If we're doing our jobs right, we listen actively—not just by putting out surveys now and then, but by engaging in a real give-and-take.
That sounds like good business; and from a human standpoint, it sounds like good manners. More than that, and perhaps most important, it's what customers are coming to expect. We're seeing the emergence of a global community with ideas to contribute and the means (the technology) to contribute them.
The lines are blurring between technical content and marketing content, just as they're blurring between content that originates within the enterprise and content that comes from customers. Technical communicators, accustomed to knowing their audiences as real people, can contribute a lot to the enterprise's content strategy and, by extension, to the overall success of the marketing effort.
(Thanks to Jeremy Victor of BtoBbloggers for conducting the interview and for posting a transcript. It's well worth reading.)
About the Author
Larry Kunz is a project manager and information architect with SDI with more than 30 years’ experience as a writer, manager, and planner. He has experienced the transition from book-based documentation to today's integrated delivery of information both as a writer and a manager. Larry is a Fellow in the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and in 2010 received the STC President’s Award for leading the Society's strategic planning effort.