“Write from your customer’s point of view”, “Highlight benefits, not features”. If you read marketing articles, this is what they aways stress. Or as Chris Brogan famously put it, “Nobody cares about your stupid product.”
But how can this be? If you don’t describe all of the fabulous features that you worked so hard to build into your product or service, how will the world know to beat a path to your door? Part of the answer is that there is no such thing as a purely rational buying decision. Swirling around in the mix is the need to make the “right choice”, not disappoint the boss, look good to peers, get a good deal and still get all the best, most up to date features. Getting all that across to someone is no easy task.
That’s why when I hear about relatively simple techniques for shifting your perspective to that of the customer, I like to pass them along. Ann Handley recently wrote a blog post titled Slow Marketing Moment: A Snack Mix Story from 30,000 Feet, in which she suggests using a series of “so what” questions to drill down into the customer’s need and desires. Her example is unique, so I’m going to quote verbatim from the post (forgive me, Ann). The product in her example is the little package of snack mix that airlines now pass out in place of actual food.
In writing, the idea is to reframe a piece of communication from the perspective of the reader, by asking “So what?” and then answering “Because…” until you’ve exhausted your ability to reach a reasonable answer.
What if you’re in business-to-business snack marketing, tasked with selling these familiar little packs to airline procurement departments?
(Side note: Is B2B Snack Mix Marketer a career choice? I want to believe yes.)
Slow Marketing Moment for B2B Snack Mix Marketer (SMMB2BSMM): I want to drive awareness of and interest in our new Tastee-brand passenger snack mix to all the major carriers.
SMMB2BSMM: Because our Tastee-brand snack mix features high-quality nourishment for your passengers. It’s a perfect blend of salty and savory, packaged both conveniently and attractively. And it’s shelf-stable—lasting for literally years inside in-flight trolley carts. It won’t rot or turn stale or rancid.
SMMB2BSMM: Because bad, inedible snacks will inspire your customers to mock you on social media. Flying literally sucks: They already are poised to hate you. Bad snacks could be the last straw that might inspire a negative hashtag. Which could trend.
SMMB2BSMM: Because that’ll be embarrassing to you, Ms. Carrier Procurement. More importantly, your airline brand will suffer because of your subpar snacks. And you’ll suffer when the Director of Procurement scapegoats you.
SMMB2BSMM: Because suffering is… umm… bad. And jobless is… debilitating.
You get the idea. So the our Slow Marketing Moment B2B Snack Mix Marketing Writer might get to something like this:
Our new Tastee snack blend will do more than just nourish your bored passengers. The blend will delight your passengers because it’s a cut above typical airline fare—so much so that they’ll maybe be inspired to share the good vibes on social media. They’ll Instagram selfies with the fun packaging (did you notice the packets are square, like Instagram?)
Happier customers make for more brand loyalty, and more brand loyalty makes for a more successful company and a happier work culture.
You’ll be a hero! You’ll get your picture on the break room bulletin board! Your own parking spot! The works!
You see how that moved from an uninspired description of a frankly boring product, to a description of a better life for the person making the buying decision? Of course, Ann Handley is very, very good at this sort of thing. For the rest of us, it will take practice.
Until next week.