Content that attracts and resonates with the right audience must focus on what your customer needs most. Whether you’re creating a headline for your homepage, a topic for your new white paper, or overhauling your corporate brand position and message, if you can’t connect with your customers’ pains and help them see how you or your products can solve them, they’ll move along quickly.
A famous recent study on McDonalds, showed that understanding why a customer is searching for a solution can allow you to drastically change your approach to marketing in a way that benefits your customer – and your bottom line.
In short, McDonald’s wanted to increase milkshake sales. They initially thought customers wanted exciting new flavors, but after leading by messaging their variety, they saw little increases in sales. Through an in-depth customer study and a series of customer interviews, Clayton Christensen, a researcher hired by McDonalds found that “half the fast-food chain's milkshake buyers turn out to be early morning commuters with a long, boring drive, who need some way to stay engaged with life. The other half are dads in the afternoon, buying a treat for their children.“ As a result, leading with messaging the ease of packaging and quick pickup options are what actually connected with customers pain points and helped to boost sales.
By understanding your customer’s pains through their eyes, you’re able to focus on the right details to connect with customers – from email newsletter subject lines to whitepaper topics.
An effective and efficient way to identify your customer’s pain points and how they define them is to interview your customers. Here’s a roadmap for successfully interviewing your customers:
Choose The Right Interviewer
The right interviewer will make the difference on whether or not your customer feels comfortable to share their thoughts and opinions. You want your customers to be vulnerable and feel safe doing so. Often times, someone from the sales team or project team working with the client isn’t the right person to interview the customer – there’s too much tied up in the relationship.
For best results, the project manager should introduce a third party – a marketing associate, client satisfaction analyst, or someone similar – and ask, specifically, if the person may contact them via phone for a quick, 15-minute phone call to talk about their needs and the engagement.
Interview The Right Customers
It’s easy to talk to the customers that you have fantastic, successful partnerships with, and you should talk to these customers, but you should also include others. If possible, reach out to 10 customers, in hopes of securing 5-8 interviews. These should be both those customers with whom you have great relationships as well as customers who have been more challenging to work with – these interviews often reveal a few pain points your customers still have and in turn, allow you to meet their needs better.
If possible, it’s even helpful to reach out to a potential customer who may have chosen to work with a competitor – these interviews can help you understand if your solution legitimately wasn’t a good fit for the company, or if you didn’t communicate your solution in a way that resonated with the customer.
Ask Meaningful Questions
Helpful questions focus on your customer’s specific pains. Be sure to record the exact words they say – articulating your customer pains in their words is helpful. It’s easy to use internal terms with our customers, but you’ll resonate better with potential customers if you use the words they’re using for their problems. Here are some questions to start with:
- What were the initial challenges that caused you to begin working with us?
- What were the critical success factors for your application? Certain specs, timeline, integration with existing equipment, standards, etc.
- What was most important factor to you in choosing a solution? Experience, cost, time, scalability, ability to work with certain platforms, etc.
- What did we do to solve your challenges/what was the process like?
- What other competitors did/would you consider working with?
- What has set our work apart from other companies?
- Why do you continue to work with this team?
Turn Their Answers Into Your Focus
Lastly, use the pain points you gathered to message your solutions. If your customers prioritized technical accuracy, small form factor solutions, and cost well over timeline – don’t lead with quick timelines, instead focus on specific technical details, footprint, and price point. If your customers’ biggest stressor is that they’ll be required by their department to know every aspect of the solution they purchase – lead with a message that shows them you’ll be their guide through the process, you’ll support them through service and documentation and help to make them the hero they need to be to succeed in their organization.
Including customer interviews in your brand positioning and messaging process is time consuming, but can be the difference in whether you accurately articulate your solutions and connect with your customers.
Learn more about brand positioning and messaging development by downloading our free ebook, "Smart Marketing for Engineers: Build Your Foundation."