When I worked on the marketing team at Highfive there was one meeting every week that I dreaded. The story meeting. It should have been the most exciting meeting of the week, a chance to explore ideas and think about exciting new stories that we could publish on our blog. But that was never the case.
Each story meeting felt like an exercise in guessing and then trying to meet our customers’ expectations. In hindsight it was absurd. Three B2B marketers sitting in a conference room guessing at what the CIO or VP of IT at a company 100 times our size would want to read. Our goal was to hit the bullseye, to write the story that thousands of IT leaders would share with their network, but our strategy was to put on a blindfold, spin around a few times, and then throw some darts at the wall.
We were far from alone in taking this approach. This is the status quo for most B2B marketers.
When our Head of Demand Generation, Michael Freeman, joined the company, he suggested a new way to come up with story ideas: “Why don’t we call them up and ask them what they want to read?”
Embarrassingly, we had never thought to do this. Sure, we had developed personas based on customer interviews about the pain points our product solved, but we had never asked customers about the problems our content could solve.
Shortly after that, we called the CIO of Hubspot, Jim O’Neill. Michael led the call and asked smart questions like, “It’s Sunday afternoon and you’re watching the Patriots game — what are you stressed about?”
Over the course of the next few months, we called another dozen customers to ask them similar questions. In doing so we uncovered the cause of our customers’ stress and anxiety and asked questions that revealed their hopes and aspirations. It was a perfect formula for writing content that engaged them emotionally and added real value.
Psychologizing your audience
In her AMA on GrowthHackers, Camille Ricketts—the founding editor of First Round Review—explained how simple “Psychologizing your audience” can be:
“Psychologizing your audience doesn’t have to be some big ordeal…I would definitely ask them what kind of information they need. I think that’s the key, it’s not the content they WANT to see… it’s information they feel they NEED to succeed. Where are the gaps they see in front of them, standing between them and their definition of success, or the metrics they want to maximize? How can you help them fill this gap? Really, you’re looking to provide utility, utility, utility. I think where a lot of content strategies misstep is providing customer stories, or trying to demonstrate value without considering what their customers’ goals are and how they can help with that first.”
After we interviewed our customers, we learned that everyone wanted to figure out how to build the best culture on their IT team. With this in mind, we launched a new series where we interviewed IT leaders at …read more
Read more here:: B2CMarketingInsider