By Bill King
As sales and marketing professionals, we all want our words to be persuasive. But how do you craft content that truly persuades? Persuasion isn’t about winning an argument. If you’re in an argument and you win, you’ve likely achieved concession. But rarely are you going to hold on to that hollow victory. Your customer will easily concede to your competitor if they are as good at winning arguments as you are. Or they’ll use the loss of Round 1 to come roaring back at you with a more refined defense in Round 2.
To win at persuasion, you need to make the other party feel that you’re both on the same side. That you’re not in an argument at all. And this starts with a deep understanding of the challenges and performance data your customers are measured by. It’s the heart of what brand publishing is all about. Brand publishing doesn’t start with your product features and roll out from there. It starts at the other end of the spectrum with your customers, understanding how they work, play, interact, select and purchase. It starts by canvasing your customers and understanding what information they are looking for that would help them perform their jobs more efficiently.
Once you have a deep understanding of what your customers are struggling with, your content will be far more focused around your readers’ needs. Your words begin to reiterate the issues your customers face and you stake out the common ground between their struggles and your company’s mission. Trust begins to form as they read about your shared beliefs, values and interests.
One of the issues vendors struggle with in the water and wastewater industry is the risk averse nature of the customer base. It’s frustrating to try to win over regulators and operators into permitting and piloting your new innovation. And engineers tend to stick with their expertise and what they know versus what’s new. It’s one of the few industries in the world where “new” is not followed by “exciting.” Perhaps “new and untested” or “new and intimidating” might be more appropriate.
It’s important that your content pays compliment to this risk averse nature of your customers. It should recognize them as the public servant heroes they are, protecting the masses against sickness on a shoestring budget. A sincere recognition of the valiant work being done by the men and women of our industry will create an emotional bond between the reader and your content.
Finally, if your content can convince them that it was their idea in the first place, you’ve masterfully persuaded them. But how do you do that via content? That’s at the point where your content ends and your contact begins. You want to have suggestions in your persuasive content. Stay away from solutions. Suggestions could be anything from discussing some of the pros and cons of alternatives or sharing a case study or two without making the conclusion for the reader. Executed successfully, your next prospecting call might start with the words, “I was reading the article you sent me and I was thinking …”
At this point, you and your customer are both engaged on working to find a fitting solution.
Image credit: "You Are Not Alone," david pacey © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/