“Stocks are pieces of paper with stories attached to them.” Martin Sosnoff — a jaded, opinionated, Bronx-raised money manager and Forbes columnist — wrote that in 1975. It’s still true today. The market loves a good story. Forbes Magazine, Oct 2013
Most of us accept the importance of the face value of company stocks we see traded every day. CEOs, CFOs, shareholders, they all fret over this to some degree. Have a bad quarter of earnings, the market will hear that story and then there’s not so much love from investors. Have a great quarter, suddenly you’re back in good graces. So what does this have to do with B2B inbound marketing? Everything.
The marketers I work with face a variety of issues ranging from the strategic to the tactical. And where I saw a parallel with the Forbes story is when the question turns to just how good is the company or product story, how well is it being told and most importantly, how well is it being heard. Why? The market loves a good story just like Mr. Sosnoff said except in this case the “investors” of interest are our clients and prospects. Think about that. Are the messages and stories found in the marketing content making them believe that your company, it’s thinking and it’s solutions are a “good buy”?
To find out, start by simply going through your website noting copy and images that are too salesy, inward focused, generic and superlative laden. Buyers are smart and attention span-challenged. “Brochureware” is so 1990’s and simply not compelling enough to have true prospects coming back and following, the very behavior we need to engage, nurture and convert them into our future customers. So what are some solutions? While not nearly complete, here’s a short checklist of some basics I put together to get started:
- Are we broadcasting their favorite station WIII-FM so is it coming in loud and clear? The late Tony Mikes of Second Wind Network used this analogy in his excellent agency workshops. What it means is our audiences don’t have a lot of time to waste and they want to hear “What Is In It For Me” frequently and clearly.
- Did we program our content to align with our audience profiles and personas? A good content strategy relies on having well defined customer profiles and personas so we’ll know that the story we’re telling is valuable and relevant to solving their particular problems and not only acknowledge it, but use that as a segue to mention those solutions your company provides. But no sales pitches.
- Have we set ourselves apart from our competition? If not then all we may have accomplished is to sell the category, and lost an opportunity to gain mindshare. Perhaps worse is missing the chance to make a deposit in the First National Bank of Thought Leadership that pays dividends in earned trust, the bedrock of every sound relationship.
- Would you eat it? A well written story, like a good dish, takes time and talent. Does it read like something that just got slapped together or something you’d send to a colleague or friend and say “this is a great read.” Or to put it another way, is this a recipe we’d serve special guests? Approaching it this way is a form of quality control to never let inferior content slip through. It’s also a great way to build brand equity. Don’t worry either if you don’t have any writers on staff; hire one or retain a PR firm.
- Let’s get visual. Humans are visual learners or else where’s the wisdom in ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’? Consider a variety of media to use to tell your story especially video; besides the fact it’s more engaging, it can get our points across more quickly and coherently than just text. And that’s perfect for all of us who are time constrained.
Good content about your company or products doesn’t just happen, it takes some work. Hopefully these tips will help in that process. I’m sure there are more that I’ve missed. What are they? Please share yours.