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How to Turn Customer Stories Into Valuable Content Marketing

By Jennifer KingApr 28, 2014

content ideasAs marketers, we’ve made it our jobs to investigate target audiences, define buyer journeys and develop content and marketing strategies that appeal to our buyer personas. 

We don’t have to tell you why you need to develop buyer personas. But many of the clients and marketers we work with struggle to create content that resonates with and meets the needs of their target audiences. Instead, they rely on assumptions about what they think buyers want and how their product or service should meet buyers’ needs.

Here at Kuno, we spend a lot of time talking to our clients’ customers so we can create content that truly “speaks” to buyers. This way, we know exactly what buyers are asking, what they're searching for when they find our clients and what's resonating with them throughout the buying process. The findings that stem from those conversations end up informing our messaging strategies and content marketing recommendations. 

So rather than rely on assumptions about your target audiences and why they use your products, talk to your customers so you know for sure. Here’s how you can turn those conversations into valuable content for your inbound marketing efforts.

Ask Questions That Inspire Storytelling

Find out how your product fits into your buyers’ lives. Why do they need it? How important is it to their jobs, personal lives and overall happiness? To get to the heart of the purchasing decision, ask questions along the lines of:

  • What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
  • What are you main priorities?
  • What defines success for you in the workplace?

Ask questions that get interviewees to describe the struggles they faced before they found a solution to a specific challenge and stories about the buying process, such as:

  • Tell me about a time when everything was going well for you or for the company. What were the factors that contributed to that success? What changed?
  • If you could change anything about your current situation, what would those changes be?
  • What did your business environment look like before you started using this product or service?
  • What triggered your search for a solution to make those changes?
  • How did you begin searching for a solution? Who was involved in the buying process?

Content Ideas to Listen For

Using these types of questions to guide your conversations will equip you with mounds of storytelling power to embed in your content. For example, if you can uncover the challenging situations that inspired your buyer to search for a solution, you can create content that addresses those pain points directly and offers advice on “how to prepare” for an impending challenge. 

As you identify the success factors for the buyer, such as how the buyer defines success and what that looks like in the workplace, ask follow-up questions about how your product or service can help contribute to that success. This insight will help you develop messaging that will show buyers how your product can help rather than just tell them about the benefits.

Listen for stories about the barriers buyers faced when trying to choose a solution. Create content that will address those concerns or questions buyers may have about your product during the consideration stage of the buying process.

Also, as you discover who was involved in the decision-making process, consider all the buyers involved and their concerns. For example, you’re an HR software vendor. Your ideal buyer is a Director of Human Resources but the final decision maker may be a CEO or CFO. Therefore, you will need to create content that appeals to the daily challenges the Director of Human Resources persona to build awareness for your solution. You will also need content that addresses the concerns of the CEO/CFO persona toward the middle and bottom of the sales funnel, such as stories about HR software ROI and case studies that show your solution in action. 

Create Valuable Content in Every Way, Shape & Form

Once you have a long list of topics based on your buyers’ success factors, challenges and concerns, you can begin to transform those topics into ideas for blogs, videos and additional types of content. Consider the best format for the topic based on messaging and value the reader will get from consuming it.

Let’s revisit our HR software vendor example. During your interviews, you were able to uncover how your software meets specific challenges not just for the HR department, but also applicants, hiring managers and existing employees. Rather than try to tell that story with words, show prospective buyers with a whiteboard session video that depicts different areas of the organization and its HR obstacles. You can talk through and show, on video, how HR software is the connective tissue that can help the organization meet said challenges.  

Or, let’s say you connect with an industry thought leader who can passionately speak about one of your buyers’ biggest concerns or challenges. Ask your contact if she’d be willing to discuss the topic with you further for a piece of content, record the conversation and turn it into a compelling Q&A style blog post.

More of my go-to content ideas include:

  • How-to or step-by-step content
  • Commentary on industry news or studies
  • Customer highlights that show how your product is being used
  • Interviews with experts and thought leaders
  • Q&A series in which you answer common questions from buyers
  • Checklists buyers can use to be more efficient
  • Debates on hot discussion topics

Create & Reuse: Getting the Most Out of Every Piece of Content

There are so many options for blog posts, eBook, videos, webinars and more. And once you’ve completed your interviews, your list of potential content ideas is going to be even longer. That’s great! But also consider how you can repurpose those ideas for various types of content formats and different buyer personas.

For example, HubSpot suggests turning a series of blog posts into an ebook, or repurposing content from a webinar to create a simple infographic. If you want to reuse a piece of content for a different audience, examine your word choice, tone and examples you use in the piece to make sure it would appeal to a different business type. 

To see great buyer persona messaging in action, check out this blog post by Stephanie Kapera.

Creating Content for Marketing Automation

photo credit: GabrielaP93 via photopin cc

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