Or do you get that it’s not about you?

marketingmistake.jpgThat’s right. If you’re the business owner – it’s not about you. So, then, who is it about?

It’s about me – the client, the customer, the patron, the prospect – whatever term we want to use to mean, “who you’re in business for.” If you’re blogging, it’s who you’re writing for. You know, the people who read and comment on your blog posts.

Yet, so much of the copy I see on the web isn’t focused on me and my needs at all. Rather it’s focused on the business and, truthfully, their needs.

Think about the sites you’ve seen. More often than not they say things like, “We can do this,” or “Our services blah, blah,” or “We have 50 years of experience.” Then there’s my favorite – “our mission is…”

As a consumer, I don’t care about your mission. I don’t care what about what you do, your services or your decades of experience. I care about me. I want to know what’s in it for me. How can knowing you benefit me? What can you do to help me?

If I’m ‘in the market’ for something, it’s likely because I have a problem. What I need is a solution to my problem. And if I’m visiting your website, I need to know first that you understand my problem and, then, second that you can help me solve my problem. But I can’t know you can solve my problems unless you tell me so.

I was going to write some tips about how to create a more customer-focused marketing message. But I’d rather have that conversation in the comment box because I really want to hear your ideas. So…let’s talk.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. It’s a good point. I even wrote a post about it myself, and then got reminded about it when a friend critiqued one of my pages for me. Whoops!

    I think it’s something we need to hear again and again.

  2. I think there is a simple reason that companies focus on themselves… as a purchaser (especially in a B2B role), I need to feel secure with the company. Are they fly-by-night? Will they be around to deliver? How is their quality?

    I agree with you, we (businesses) need to sell benefits, and meet the customers needs… but as a relatively new startup I’ve been challenged on the “will I be around next year” issue quite a bit.

    That’s one reason why I have the “In the News” section on my front page… sites like CareerJournal.com and Webware.com add credibility that I can’t really add myself…

    Jason Alba
    CEO – JibberJobber.com
    :: self-serve career management ::

  3. Jason,

    I can definitely see what you’re saying. Yet I’m not sure that the reason businesses talk/write about themselves. I’ve seen many cases where it’s just outside their consciousness. No fault, just not considered.

    And marketing is changing. Consumers are having more and more control over how they’re marketed too. This will require a change – albeit a gradual one – for how business market.

    That’s why I see problem/solution-focused marketing to be much more effective.

    Thoughts.

    Adam,

    Me too. I can do better. And I want to do better – especially with my blogging. If I write about you, you’re more likely to want to talk with me about what I write about – no?

  4. It reminds me of what Copyblogger says are the two most important words in writing: You and Because. It’s so true! I am very turned off by blogs where the author only talk about what s/he feels, thinks and does every day. Honestly, I don’t care!

    Yesterday I read Chris Garrett’s article about Creating Compelling Blog content. He has a link to a list of questions he wrote to ask when creating pen portraits of your target audience, which I found helpful.

    I am worried that when I start my blog I will not serve my readers. I feel passionate about solving problems for them and sharing what I’ve learned in order to help them, but right now I’m not exactly sure what those problems will be or how to help them effectively. I suppose I’ll have to first launch my blog and then have loads of conversations with the people reading! I’m apprehensive to start, because I don’t want to let my readers down.

    I would really love to hear your ideas on creating more customer focused messages! I value your thoughts very highly, and I am “in love” with the way you write for your blog and how you treat us readers 🙂

  5. Ironically this article is all about you. You use, me, I, all through it.
    You talk about what you will do.

    You are right – I don’t care about your mission.

    Try re-write the article so I feel you are talking about me.

    The best way to teach is to be an example.

  6. LaurenMarie,

    I know what you mean. Just remember that your blog will evolve. Do you best at writing for your readers and know that it will continuously be a work-in-progress. Just assume that.

    That’s why I suggest beginning your blog as soon as you can so you can get your feet wet. Let me know if I can help at all.

    Dave,

    You got me. This blog served a double purpose. For those who read it in the first person – as though they’re writing it – it will be a different experience than those who read it with me talking about myself. I meant it that way to strike the conversation. Thanks for pointing it out.

    And you’re absolutely right – the best teacher (I say the only teacher) is the one who teaches by example. As you can see, I’ve done so from two angles as once.

    I do hope you return. I’d love to know your thoughts.

  7. Hi Dawud

    I have been obsessed with this marketing concept of putting our customers needs before ours for the last few weeks. Admittedly, I am a marketing nightmare. Hello, my name is Tom and I am a marketing nightmare. Ah, the first step to marketing nirvanna.

    Our present website was developed with the idea that people would want to know what we do and how we do it. WRONG. People first want to see if your business solves their problems. They want to know how you can help them.

    Once someone sees that you understand their problems and you can help them with those problems, then they will be interested in what you do and how you do it. We had it bassackwards.

    I am in the process of completely re-writing our website to be more customer needs focused. Hopefully by the end of August we will have something much better at helping people decide if what we do is right for them.

    I notice that you put a link to my post “Marketing 101” at the beginning of your article. I hope you noticed that I do go on to explain this concept in the hope that our readers can benefit from our marketing mistakes? Perhaps I did not make it clear at the beginning of the post that there is valuable information for the reader?

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Tom Tiernan
    VisualsSpeak LLC

  8. Tom,

    I did notice and I think the post is a nice read.

    You’re on it. Most business owners think it’s about them when it’s really about their audience. Let ‘you’ fade into the background so that it’s just natural that you have the solution to your readers/target market’s problems. Sounds like you’re doing it already.

    Thanks for joining the conversation, by the way.

  9. Dave,
    I didn’t have any problems with all the I’s and me’s in the post. Dawud was trying to speak for all clients and consumers, I thought.

    About including “(and Blogging)” in the title: Some of my favorite blogs are personal ones about what’s happening in a person’s life. They have different lifestyles than I do and I love the change of view. Not all blogs are about marketing.

    And even if the blog is about marketing, sometimes I am interested in how bloggers live their lives. This is especially true if they’re writing about spiritual topics. If they don’t talk from their own experiences, then I’m not apt to trust them.

  10. Jean, I am curious–especially on those personal blogs that you like to read–whether they help you understand something? Do they teach, or is it just someone saying this is my life, I went to the store, I picked up the kids from school…? Even personal blogs can focus on the reader; sharing an experience and what the author gained or learned and how the reader can duplicate the process is probably what is going to make the reader want to come back. I think that’s how this article can relate to any kind of blog, unless the sole purpose is to proclaim one’s existence to the universe.

    I’ve read many blogs (not just personal ones) that are boring because it feels like the author could be talking to a wall instead of me, the reader, and not know the difference. I am turned off by authors who merely want to make their opinions known to the world (Yikes! Am I doing that right now?? I apologize if this sounded harsh, I don’t mean to. Just trying to expand the conversation, understand and learn!).

  11. LaurenMarie, it is perfectly fine to voice your own opinion on a blog. In fact that is the beauty of blogs.

    Dawud, businesses do care about you and that is why they post their mission statement otherwise you wouldn’t know what they stand for. If a customer doesn’t care what a business or company stands for then maybe that person should go else where.

    I have been running a successful business for the last 29 years and know that in order to keep my customers and attract new ones that I need to keep up to date on latest techniques and products. Sometimes this means promoting my business and my company may have to say “We” and “I” frequently but the word “You” is just as prevelant.

    I do understand that a business must make the customer feel wanted. There is a thin line between You and We.

  12. The first site that comes to mind is “ExPat Mom, living the not-so-simple life in Guatemala.” The author is a Canadian expatriate living in Guatemala with her (Guatemalan?) husband and two small children. She’s earning money by doing free-lance writing, and her life is far from tranquil and simple. I would say she’s sharing her life with us, because her posts are well-written, i.e., interesting and easy to read. She definitely doesn’t come across as trying to teach. Basically I keep coming back because I like her. Knowing her enriches my life.

    I keep coming back to this site because I like Dawud, too. Even though I’m not interested in having a business, I’m attracted by his emphasis on conversations.

  13. Jean,

    You make some good points. I always try to remember that people do business with people – not with businesses. That’s why it can be important to let your audience in on the fact that you’re a person.

    But how much personal information is too much?

    LaurenMarie,

    Your opinion is always welcome here. So please, continue.

    Carma,

    Exactly. The important thing, I feel is not just that the customer feels wanted – it’s that they feel heard, understood…met. And a website/blog is a great place to open that conversation.

    My thoughts on mission statements is that they are way too often about the business and not the customer. And if I’m the customer, I want to know what I gain by working with you, not just what you do. I agree…a fine line.

    Jean,

    Thanks. That’s why I’m blogging – the conversation. The conversation leads to relationships which leads to all types of possibilities – person and professional. When we reach out to each other, the world is naturally a better place.

  14. Oh, Guatemala! I love Guate! I went there my senior year of high school and it was purely enchanting. The people, the cities, the jungle… all SO beautiful! Have you notice, Jean, that ExPat Mom’s top post is What I Learned from Travelling in Mexico Without Knowing Spanish? Teaching! I took a look at all of her top posts and each one does teach something, and she does it in a very personal way. Quite interesting to read, thanks for showing her to me!

    Carma, I didn’t mean to imply it’s not ok to express personal opinions in blog articles. But the more successful blogs (successful = many subscribers, lots of comments, and/or possibly making money either from the blog or because it’s connected to a business, like Dawud’s here) focus on the reader and teach something, rather than only express opinions.

    Dawud teaches us how to relate to people while doing business. Liz does a very similar thing. Darren shows us how to make money blogging. You, Carma, use your “life experiences to guide [us] along [our] way.” You teach, too!

    I’m sure every one of these blog authors I listed expresses his and her own opinions in their blogs. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, just that the more successful and probably the more interesting ones focus on readers by teaching. Personal opinions and teaching are not mutually exclusive; you can have both at the same time.

    What do you think? Is there a different way to say it? Maybe “teaching” doesn’t cover everything in the right way? Maybe more accurately what I’m trying to say is “a conversation that we all can learn from, which is started by the author.” Teaching.

    This has turned into a fascinating conversation! Thanks for participating everyone 🙂

  15. Thought I would just add my two cents worth here. My first blog(At Home Mom Blog)is aimed at work at home moms and at first I wrote rather impersonal posts, which received 0 interest from readers. It wasn´t until I started to include a little of myself in my posts that people started commenting and linking to the blog.

    To keep from getting too personal on a business site, I started Expat Mom, which allows me to talk about my life and be very personal. For me, this is the best way to communicate with my readers, without distracting people with non-relevant details in the main blog. I do think that it helps you to trust a blogger if you know a bit about their life, though.

  16. interesting technique… finger people via links, then invite them to a conversation in the comments. pretty neat 🙂

    as for me: i’m writing about / to an audience of geeks who are building websites & internet startups, and yet i also feel like i’m talking to myself at the same time.

    i guess where this makes sense is my real-world conversations are to startups i’m advising / investing in, and to the founders & product managers & marketers there. since it’s a job i used to also have, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between the conversation in my head, and the conversation i’m having with them.

    anyway, nice to meetcha..

    – dave mcclure

  17. Everyone…

    This conversation is great. And I’m learning so much for it. Thank you to each of you for posting such a thoughtful and introspective conversation.

    Dave,

    Conversation and relationship is what I’m all about. I just keep learning better ways to do it.

    I know what you mean about “talking to myself sometimes.” I feel that way too in some posts. Funny, those posts are often the most interesting conversations.

    Thanks for coming by and joining in. Please, feel free to join the conversation any time you feel moved too.

  18. I really enjoyed this post. One common mistake I see on a lot of great websites is they just pay attention to what the client wants. An area you really see this is in the sales. People will spend a lot of money on sites to sale a product, but when it all comes down to it they just don’t think about the customer enough. They need to help the customerfeel safe buying from them. Reduce a little cost in advertising, put it in that, and you will increase your sales.

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