How do you draw the difference between writing customer centric or product centric content?
I was reading this blog post on the importance of being customer centric or product centric when designing products or mobile apps, and thought that this philosophy is also applicable to content writing.
What is customer centric content writing?
In simple terms, customer centric content writing means focusing on benefits rather than features.
Features are important.
A mobile phone that comes with 280 GB memory sounds quite impressive.
This is a feature – our phone has this much memory.
What is the benefit to the customer?
You’re not going to have to delete data to make more space very soon.
Many phone users face this problem.
They go on making videos and taking photographs unmindful of the space they are taking, and then suddenly, they begin to get the warning that they are running out of space.
280 GB is a lot of space.
You can tell your customers that they can store up to 10,000 videos (depending on the length).
You can tell them that they can store more than 100,000 photographs.
They are not going to have to delete data for at least a few years.
As a content writer, you need to be the customer’s advocate.
It is the customer who buys a product or a service.
It is the reader who reads your content.
If there is no connection, the customer is not going to buy, and the reader is not going to read.
How to write customer centric content?
To be able to write customer centric content you must understand what the customer needs.
Instead of thinking about what you are offering, think about what the customer wants.
Here are a few things you can do to write customer centric content.
Use the language your customers use
Every industry has its own set of jargon.
Jargons may be important within the industry because they make your communication unambiguous and eliminate scope for contradictions and confusion.
Sometimes, something that can be explained in a couple of sentences can be explained in a single word using a jargon.
But your customers may not understand them.
Take for example if someone tells you, “Give me a hard copy.”
Most people won’t know what “hard copy” means unless they have used the word before.
They won’t be able to make out that “hard copy” simply means giving some information on a printed sheet, through a printer.
Hence, if you are writing content for a printer, instead of saying, “it gives you 500 hard copies per cartridge” you can say, “you can print out 500 sheets per cartridge.”
Write in a very simple language
Although I don’t believe in dumbing down readers, when people are quickly reading, they don’t want to spend time deciphering what your sentences mean.
When I’m writing content, as much as I can, I use simple sentences.
When I’m writing content, my intention is not to showcase my prowess as a writer or a content writer.
My only purpose is to make my writing convincing and simple so that people do business with my clients.
Sometimes my sentences contain just three words.
In a copywriting e-book I read that even if sometimes you make grammar mistakes, don’t worry.
Though, I don’t agree.
Grammar mistakes make you look unprofessional.
Nonetheless, use as many simple sentences as you can.
Avoid writing compound and complex sentences as much as you can.
Write for a clearly defined persona
Write for a person.
Don’t let it be a vague person.
Before starting to write your main content, on a sheet of paper or in a Word Doc, make a list of the attributes the person has (for whom you are writing).
You can write her age, her income, the region she comes from, her marital status, how much she generally spends on similar products and services you are promoting, how she has conversations, what are her habits, and so on.
Creating a persona can be time-consuming but it improves the customer centricity of your content writing process.
Once you have defined the persona, imagine the person is sitting in front of you and you are talking to her.
Have a conversation – use a conversational tone.
It is very important to use the language your customer uses on day-to-day basis.
Answer all the questions and fears your customer may have
Your customers may react with “so what?”
They must come up with, “what if?”
Suppose you’re promoting a cloud-based accounting software.
Think of all the questions your target customer may have.
Think of all the apprehensions.
Make a list of all the reasons why that customer may not take a decision in favor of your cloud-hosted accounting software.
Will they be able to port their existing data as it is?
Is there a steep learning curve?
Is the software going to cost more in terms of time and money compared to their existing software?
Is the software accessible on all devices?
Is it customizable?
How many reports does it generate?
How is it going to improve your accounting?
Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages to such an extent that they should start using the software?
Why shouldn’t they use your competitor’s software?
And so on.
Think in terms of what your customer may think.
Speak in a definitive language
Instead of telling them many people are using your software, tell them 1500 people are using your software.
Don’t just tell them that yours is the best software – show them the accolades it has acquired.
Tell them stories of people who have improved their businesses or their personal lives with your software.
Don’t use vague expressions like “etc.” or “so on”.
Even if you have just three claims to make, just make those three claims and then leave it up to the customer whether she wants to be impressed or not.
Write a list of problems your product solves
Customers are more interested in knowing what problems your product solves rather than what cool features it has.
Your mobile phone has haptic touch? What does it mean?
How does it solve the phone user’s problem?
How does it give more feature to the user?
You offer storage space in the cloud?
How easy is it to upload and sync files?
Can the files be synced across all devices?
How much data can be stored?
How secure is the data on your servers?
Don’t assume solutions to what sort of problems people are seeking.
Talk to them.
Conduct survey and polls.
Have one-on-one chats.
What is product centric content writing?
Product centric content writing is when you talk about the features and the parameters of the product without telling your customers how these features and parameters are going to improve their lives.
There is a dialogue in a Kevin Costner movie, Field of dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”
This is pertaining to the Las Vegas city that was being built, but does it hold for products?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
When Steve jobs came up with the idea of an iPhone people laughed at him.
It was hard to imagine a mobile phone without a keyboard.
Nonetheless, he went ahead with the innovation and the rest is history.
In such a context, you can say that sometimes the product-centric approach works.
But these are rarest of the rare events.
When writing content, you must strike a balance between customer centric and product centric content writing.
Even when you talk about features, talk about them in such a manner that they read like benefits to the customers.