by LISA O
Content is an afterthought
You develop a great technology, build a product around it, and then hand everything over to a content designer and say, “Here, just make the words sound good.”
Other than making your content designer weep with frustration, what’s wrong with this picture? Really wrong? You thought content belonged at the end of your development life cycle.
It’s tempting to only use these resources as the grammar police who are here to tidy up things at the end. That’s a risky and devastating strategy for your business.
By not engaging your content resources from the very beginning, they only get half the story of what you’re trying to accomplish. And their work will reflect that of someone who only knows half the story.
You wouldn’t do the same thing to your engineers or product managers. Just like interaction designers, content designers can profoundly improve your products at every step of the development process.
Adopt an inappropriate editorial voice
Would you retain a lawyer who looks like Spicoli? Or hand over your life savings to an investor who wears Beavis and Butthead T-shirts?
Didn’t think so. So why would you pick an editorial voice that doesn’t suit your business?
A well-researched and executed editorial voice resonates with customers, making them more likely to come and stay (think MailChimp and Disney). That ultimately makes businesses more successful because they’re creating a long-lasting, deep connection with their audience.
When an editorial voice doesn’t match a product or service, the dichotomy is too much for customers. You want to stand out from the competition, but not because the messaging makes people uncomfortable or comes across as just plain weird.
Not understanding your customers
You can do irreparable damage through misguided content because it directly reflects how well you know your customers.
Since making your product or service easy to use is baseline, so shouldn’t knowing your customers inside out. What motivates them? What’s their daily routine? What struggles do they face? What are their expectations?
Understanding people on an intimate level and getting one step ahead of their needs go way beyond a typical marketing profile. Median age and income can’t help you determine what your customers really need and how you can deliver it.
So get out there and talk to customers face-to-face. See where they live and work. Ask them questions about their lives. Then mirror what you’ve learned through words. Celebrate their successes, empathize when things go awry.
Like a good friend, it shows that you’re listening.
You assume customers are in the know
No matter what your business specializes in, don’t ever expect your customers have the same breadth and depth of knowledge as you do.
Abstract concepts, industry jargon, and vague guidance for the layperson can make a them feel a little small and a lot frustrated. And you betcha that they’ll ditch your business in a heartbeat for one that’s just a teeny bit easier to understand.
Now, don’t get tedious with your products and services by explaining every single thing. This is a balancing act. It’s just as dangerous to assume things should be dumbed down because no one will understand you.