This is the start of my writing project: to really take writing seriously. I’ve been blogging a lot over the years and that was a huge step forward from the student who barely got through high school english. From my memory; story telling, formatting and creative writing didn’t academically stack up. I was out matched by those who had a better understanding of written language. I knew I could out speak them, and thrive in a presentation getting my points across, and maybe that was the point. I thrive being away paper in a world where the recipient of my message has to make a decision about my message.
Early in life, I found my method of communicating was suited for sales: explanatory, features, benefits, user experience.
I recently had a colleague point out one of my blogs was way before its time and that was a good reminder that my writing was a function of something else. Blogging was awesome, that blog in particular, was a weekly recap of our basketball league. It was a value add to the league and (along with a photographer) much easier than producing an episode of Sportscenter. We were trying to offer a user expereince that was closer to being a pro. Getting some recognition for your performance by tracking stats, posting photos on Facebook that were watermarked so we could continue to grow, having uniforms made for teams instead of just matching colours. It seems more standard now, but that was leaps ahead in 2007.
The function of writing for me had a purpose that evolved into content marketing. A shortcut for sales and marketing by being forward with information that will streamline processes for sales, customer service and marketing departments. Let me explain, content marketing is about efficiency, not just educating customers and conversions.
Streamlining sales with content marketing
Sales is a constant for most organizations, and typically the prospects and customers are closely related or similar. It takes a large company or a product with mass appeal to be have a broad target market. Since there are many related traits for potential customers, the same questions arise. This is what we see so commonly with FAQs on websites. The short fall of the FAQ is being reactionary. Having to dig it up slows down the sales process and is rarely effective (except for product pages).
By activating your FAQs you can quickly develop a blogging schedule that will put this information in front of customers and draw them to your site. I understand this is very basic, but the idea is to take the frequently asked question, the repetitive answer that your sales people are giving and change it into a blog post. The blog post can spin a sometimes negative question into a reason to talk about features and benefits.
These carefully crafted blog posts make for a better experience with prospects as they can quickly be added as a link in an email. Instead of answering to the “best of your ability in the moment,” the response to these questions will be personalized in the body of the email followed by the link to a full response that promotes the sale. Try it.
Customer Service using Content Marketing
Using the same FAQ to Content method, you can reduce the inbound emails and calls while keeping customers happy. The questions that your customer service department fields on a daily basis probably follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the calls ask the same 20% of questions. Take these highest questions and turn them into blogs as well.
Customers are more likely to start searching on your site before they inquire by phone, message or email. Its all about quickly providing information. Having step-by-step guides for maintenance or setting expectations by doing an unboxing can reduce the toll on your customer service team.
The secondary benefit, some of your prospects will be looking for this information about post-sale service but will never ask your sales team. It can fuel your sales by giving customers more confidence before they buy.
Marketing Departments benefit from more Content
Of course, content marketing is driven by the marketing department, but the examples above are ways to source more content. By utilizing your internal data – sounds fancy, but its really just seeing what’s in your sent items – there is a qualification to keyword research and competitor analysis.
I’ve found the missing gap for marketing communication can often be internal relevance. The relevance score is usually correct for SEO, but the internal relevance is off. I like to check the following questions before publishing, after all we should never sacrifice user experience:
- How will this benefit your team in their job function?
- How will your customers benefit from your content?
- What is the purpose and outcome?
- Is this evergreen? What is the honest life time of the content?
- How does this content contribute your quarterly and annual goals?
Be the favorite department in your organization by blending the objectives of your team and your customers with your content.
Has FAQ to Content worked?
I started by sharing my lack of storytelling experience and I would rather write by tips and data. Here’s my shot at telling a story to show the impact that I’ve seen.
An Accountant at Tax time.
Working with an account who was considering temporary help during the tax season, a six week sprint that made up over 85% of her revenue each year. Getting that temporary person was challenging as every account was doing the same. Working with her 6 months before tax season and going through this, we realized she had a strong 20-25 FAQ each year. Much of it was evergreen (answering the same questions each year) with minor changes for tax code or individual situations. Taking those FAQ and turning them into blog posts, she estimates that she spend 50-75% less time on email, and she gained the most new customers this year (most of whom said they read a blog and wanted to work with her).
Benefit: Less time responding to the same questions and content brought in new business.
I really encourage you to dive into your email and pull out the content that can help optimize your process in sales, customer service and marketing. To keep you accountable, I’ve created a Content Builder checklist that’s completely free. Let’s get your content schedule created by the gold that’s sitting in your sent items. Click here to get started.