Getting Words Right vs. Getting Words Wrong: A Compelling Contrast
I have a love/hate relationship with the long drive to Seattle. When I make the trek for meetings, I dread the length of the drive. That’s the hate. On the other hand, it’s a chance to see all kinds of do’s and don’ts in action all within a two-hour time span.
During this week’s drive, I witnessed a great contrast that illustrates the importance of talking to, not at, your customer. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freelance copywriter or you’re providing content marketing services. If you’re in the business of words, your words must be customer-centric.
Driving north in the morning, I passed an electrician’s van branded with Mister Sparky, America’s On-Time Electrician. The tagline below the logo guaranteed they’d be on time. This is brilliant.
Talk to anyone about their frustrations with service providers like electricians, plumbers, the cable guy and others, and you’ll hear the same thing: You have to wait. And wait. You’re given a window of 4 to 8 hours and you have to stay home and wait for that person to show up to make the necessary repair. That’s a pain point, one this electrician services company is addressing with the company name and tagline. They are addressing it and talking to the customer. Their company name says, “Hey, we know you don’t want to sit around and wait. So we’re going to be the electrician you don’t have to wait for.” Kudos!!
On the way south that afternoon, I saw a billboard advertising a home builder. Their slogan was “the fastest growing home builder.” I thought long and hard while driving and couldn’t come up with a single pain point around that. Who wants to know their home builder is the fastest growing? Do people sit around wishing they could find the fastest growing home builder, really? For me, that’s not only talking at me, not to me, as a potential customer, but it’s a little scary too. If you’re so focused on growth, I wonder, what are you sacrificing in quality?
This home builder must have some idea of their customers’ pain points, wishes and concerns. Maybe it’s quality. Or price. Maybe it’s a certain style of home, or a certain size or layout. But the fastest growing builder? I doubt it. Maybe they are so busy building, they’re not listening to their customers!
The electrician is talking to customers. They are talking about the customer’s concerns.
The home builder is talking at customers. They are talking about themselves.
One is doing words right. The other is doing words wrong.
When we’re in the business of words, we must be customer-centric. Content marketing is nothing if it’s not engaging and customer-centric. Then it’s only empty words, a bunch of filler on a page or a screen. People might claim there’s a difference between what a copywriter does and what content marketing services provide. I disagree. The only difference is in the types of content produced. Both have to be focused on the customer’s concerns. Both have to be engaging and meaningful. I don’t care if you’re writing an ad (copywriting) or a whitepaper (content marketing). Your content lives and dies by your choice of words.
Make yours about the customer and your words will work.