In the current Idea Email we once more explore the role of time in the use of effective marketing content. While the “journalist” in all of us may make us think the best information is what’s happening now, personal experiences throughout the day should help us recognize that the information we seek as we carry out our jobs or feed our passions or satisfy our curiosity often is found in content created outside the flow of today’s news.
Our point with this focus on the role of time is this: Often, the content your customers find most helpful may not be found on your blog or in the stream of your social media. Throughout the day, a customer may want to know if one of your products is waterproof and 30 minutes later, she may be curious about how to replace a broken part.
It’s easy to organize a website to be chronological. It’s a bit more difficult to develop a website in a topical or categorical framework that corresponds with your business focus. What is most challenging to the creator of a website, but most helpful to the users, is an organization built on a taxonomy of situations.
Your customers need help in some situation now. How easily they can find the answer they need or some type of help in making the best of the situation is the measure of your success.
Here are some simple examples of situations (you’ll need to translate them to your industry or market focus) that represent the types of needs where the definition of “timely content” is not related to when the content was created or posted, but is measured by how the content provides help to the customer at the precise time their situational need appears.
I’m having a problem and I need to talk with someone at your company.
Have you ever lost something in a store or restaurant? A website with nothing but a contact page that requires the customer to fill out a form does little to soothe the panic of someone who left their laptop underneath a table. Make it clear who a customer can talk to in case of an emergency—and let the customer determine if their problem is an emergency.
Here’s what I’m trying to accomplish. Can you suggest the specific product I need to do that?
Customers often don’t know what they don’t know. If this is a situation that occurs in your business, a great item to include on your website is a diagram of your product that clearly identifies and names each part. Better yet, have a gallery of various parts and treat it like a bird watcher’s “field guide.”
I’m not sure what I call that doohickey that goes on the side of the whatchamacallit, but I need to replace one that broke on the product I purchased from you.
Similar to the previous situation, the customer content necessary to solve many problems encountered by customers can be a well-organized library of materials you have prepared to accompany products or projects. Consider everything you publish, from a brochure to a user manual, as content that needs to find a place on a website, organized in a way that will help customers find what they remember, but not quite.
I have one of your Wizzy Widgets, Model 25. While you have a user manual on your website for the Model 24 and the Model 26, you seem to be missing one for the Model 25. Can you tell me where to find the missing one?
If you have an archive, make it as complete as possible. If you are like us, the missing manual always is the one you need.
Do you know where I can find someone who can be like a personal trainer to help me use your product better to accomplish what I wanted it for?
As we try to say as often as possible, customers don’t want to purchase your product—they want to solve a problem or get a job done. Helping them learn how to use your product is how value can be added even to a commodity. If you have a product that has an ecosystem of third-party trainers or consultants, some of the most useful content you can create is that which creates a community or marketplace of teachers and learners.
Each one of these situations are from customers asking for help to become fans of your product. If you are only providing them content about new people you’ve hired or an award you’ve won, chances are, they are finding it useless.
People will judge your company or association on how well, and how fast, you help them get to the wisdom they need to solve this moment’s situation.
And the situation they’ll be facing a few hours from now. And tomorrow.