Do customers really want to read about your products?

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How to fit product into stories
By Stuart Ridley, contributor. 6 December, 2016
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Anyone crafting brand content has been hit with two demands that make them want to tear their hair out: “Make the logo bigger” and “Write about the product”. The thing is - your audience probably doesn’t care.

Most of us – apart from super empaths – are probably a bit self-absorbed. We think what matters to us should matter to other people. And then we feel some kind of ego pain when those other people tell us they don’t care. Or worse, they care so little they ignore us altogether. These disconnections can divide friends, families, and even nations. But they can also divide businesses and customers. The obvious way to attract, acquire, convert, retain or whatever your particular jargon is for basically just getting people to buy things, is to make your message about them.

It's incredibly simple

Audience Insights with a good mix of qualitative one-to-one conversations and quantitative mass audience surveys will help you find out what’s missing for them, so you can perhaps fill that need. While you’re at it, ask for feedback on what didn’t work in your last offer. Then dig really deep to find out how they want you to improve for the next round.

What’s really in it for your audience?

Sure, relevancy and authenticity are over-worked buzzwords, but they’re actually really important, too. We’ve all seen too many brands try to fake one or both. Failing sucks. What if you made your story mostly about them? Would it be more real then? This content checklist for people who want to sell products should help you figure it out:

1. Why do people want to engage with your story (yes, right now it’s about the story)?
Are you going to inspire, motivate, educate or entertain them?

2. What’s the point of your story (not the mere fact your product exists and does stuff)?
Is the information also valuable? Can they share it? Does it have some social currency that will score them some sort of kudos with their peers?

3. Is it more about an activity?
Before you mention any product details, what is the really new or surprising thing you’ve personally discovered this product makes possible? Should you just show them or can you help your audience discover it for themselves? If you really want to mention features, directly relate those features to real benefits people actually care about – and show that you know your product will deliver.

While you’re at it, ask for feedback on what didn’t work in your last offer. Then dig deep to find out how they want you to improve

4. Is it more about the relationship?
Go back to audience insights and look at the things your audience is really interested in. Maybe what you can really offer is an ongoing relationship built on excellent service. If that’s true.

5. Think about what you can offer in the relationship that they really want.
Apart from your products! How does your business culture shape the customer experience?

6. OK. Show them the benefits then…
You could show them how your product will make their lives easier and/or better by offering social proof of how their peers are benefiting from it. But keep it real. Audiences are tired of feature/benefit claims that fall well short of reality (and click-bait promises are just Jurassic).

7. Maybe they actually want more info?
Sharing in-depth product info is ridiculously easy online, though how about sharing other useful info such as tutorials for suggested uses, maintenance. and repair tips and, of course, stories on new things that might be made possible with a combination of products.

8. What’s the use-by date of the info in your story?
Is this story you’re offering remarkable right now? Will it still matter next week? Or next year? Will they remember the story plus your brand and your product in the morning?

It’s a bit like making friends. You just start by getting to know the person better. Then you listen a lot. Talk less. Share something amazing. Help them feel better about themselves. Bring something interesting into their lives.

And think about what will really appeal to them next. It’s probably not a long list of product specs.

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Stuart has worked as a content director, editor, copywriter, journalist and strategist in media, advertising and marketing. He is currently enjoying what he calls a 'beautiful variety of projects', including writing magazine features, shaping content strategies for interesting brands, editing books and mashing media with old friends and mentors. He's also started a house and techno orchestra at his son's primary school. So far... it's loud!