Compelling Content: Who Are You Writing For – Your Stakeholders or Your Customers ?
From your desk, you can watch a Greek tragedy play out slowly. Over weeks, our protagonist will develop a marketing campaign with a goal of collecting lots of leads. In Act I, she will begin the process with stakeholder input sessions. The struggle will begin as soon as she meets her first antagonist: she will collect input from product management that will focus on features and a clinical assessment of market need. Then she will meet with sales, and the conversation will veer off course into a request for slide bullet points that will be helpful in an upcoming meeting. The powerful C-suite will want to be sure what has been messaged to investors will not be contradicted, and she will fear not agreeing to use those words verbatim. Someone will want every minute detail of the product described in painstaking length since that type of content has not been created. She will get criticism from some who think others’ point of view is flawed. She will sit quietly listening to stakeholders who are more interested in telling her how they’d approach marketing if they were marketers, instead of providing her with useful direction.
She will assume the role of ultimate tragic figure gesturing grandly on center stage, enduring love, loss, pride, the abuse of power and fraught relationships among people. But our heroine might have replaced her tragedy mask with a comedy mask had she framed her conversations differently.
Don’t find yourself on center stage of a tragedy
In Act II, our heroine will assemble a patchwork of input instead of writing compelling copy. Often as marketers we find ourselves weaving together buzzwords and jargon, applying safe generalizations as though they were unique benefits to our product, and insert content better suited to other materials used in the sales process. Why? Because that’s the input we get from our stakeholders.
In the Final Act, our heroine will be spurned, because in the minds of her stakeholders the campaign wasn’t nearly as successful as it should have been. We will all empathize with her, since no doubt we’ve all experienced the irony of her situation at one time or another. But how can we avoid suffering the role of protagonist in this type of marketing tragedy?
Frame your input sessions to get valuable input
To steer input sessions in the right direction, ask questions that will lead to more valuable input and clear direction. You also need to circumvent discussions that are not relevant. Be sure you get answers that are tangible or ask again. And again if you have to. Look for common threads in responses; that’s exactly where your solid messaging is and how you’ll get to compelling content that is engaging and influential.
3 pointed questions to ask every stakeholder when you get input
- What do our customers care about?
- What business problem are we solving for our customers?
- Why would they choose our solution over another?
It seems so very obvious to ask these questions, but unless you sum up the courage necessary to remain strictly disciplined in conversations with stakeholders, you will bear the fate of our heroine.
If anyone has any other questions, or methods for framing input sessions, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment below or connect with me on LinkedIn.
Customer keyboard image via Shutterstock