Writers create product content. Lots of it. Content of all types: sales, marketing, support, technical, and training. Because of the way companies are organized, writers often create product content in isolation from one another. They seldom collaborate, even though it makes perfect sense for them to do so.

Typically, the way companies organize and run content-creating departments is to blame. They build borders between content teams that introduce expensive and preventable challenges, many of which have an adverse impact on how prospects and customers feel about a brand. They give people who work on content teams different titles and allow them to shape their own rules, select their own tools, and create their own processes.

Because there’s little knowledge-sharing—and even less collaboration—between content-producing departments, most big brands end up creating giant content hairballs that spawn more problems than they solve.

Who should fix this problem?

Content creators can—and should—play a significant role in breaking down the barriers created by organizational silos; barriers that prevent them from delivering clear, concise, and consistent product content at every point along the customer journey.

Prospects and customers should not have to work to decipher what a brand is trying to say

It’s the job of management to eliminate the causes of schizophrenic product messaging, confusing jargon, and dramatically incongruent product content experiences. Customers shouldn’t have to work to decipher content incongruities or be forced to navigate chaotic product content collections masquerading as quality consumer information.

The truth is prospects and existing customers don’t have to schlepp through your pre-defined purchasing process or get sucked into your fanciful sales and customer loyalty funnels. They are in control. You are not. It’s your job to listen, to remember, and to respond. How well you chose to do that will differentiate your brand from the competition.

 


 

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Source: “The consumer decision journey”, McKinsey&Company


Technical product content is a business asset; leverage it wisely

Product content is a valuable business asset. High quality, consistent technical product content acts an attraction factor. It’s also a confidence builder and a powerful sales engine. As such, it’s an asset worthy of being managed efficiently and effectively.

Consumers rely on technical product content to help them make informed purchasing decisions. They rely on it to be what they need it to be, when and where they need it, throughout their relationship with your brand. At every turn. Every time. On every channel.

Implemented well, high-quality technical product content experiences can dramatically impact sales at every touchpoint.

It’s not sales and marketing content that consumers rely on. Customers don’t have the same goals as does the brand. That’s where the disconnect lies.

Customers turn to technical product content for all sort of reasons

Your customers look to technical product content in times of need. When things go wrong, technical product content is sought by customers to overcome challenges.

Technical product content is equally important when things are going swimmingly. High-quality technical product content engenders confidence, turning customers into unpaid evangelists who voluntarily (often without your knowledge) spread the good word about your brand—and your delightful content experiences—to others.

Poor technical product content experiences are costly

Second-rate technical product content experiences are unfortunately the norm. This sad reality really turns people off. Increasingly, consumers express their unwillingness to hurdle discombobulated content collections in order to solve seemingly simple challenges. They do so by abandoning shopping carts, voicing their concerns in public digital forums, and returning products for a refund.

No brand wants returns. Hard costs associated with returns can be significant. Returns are revenue-draining; money spent focusing on sales-generating activities must be refocused on processing returns for unsatisfied customers.  No mater how you slice it, there’s nothing good about that.

Which industry sectors provide the best technical product content?

Many buyers say consumer electronics companies provide the most complete technical product content experiences. That’s probably because electronics makers understand that poor technical product content experiences damage sales. Inaccuracies and inconsistencies between product content sources cause confusion. And confusion quickly leads to frustration. And frustration quickly leads to complaints. Complaints often lead to returns. Returns damage brand trust.

Electronics makers understand the importance of various types of technical product content. They know why a prospective customer needs accurate product specifications and other technical content to help them make wise purchase decisions.

Other industry sectors have yet to grasp the importance of providing technical product content to help drive purchasing. In fact, until recently, technical content—product specs, assembly, maintenance, repair, and support content—was thought to be useful to consumers only after a sale.

Brands don’t control the customer journey—customers do

There are many reasons why prospective buyers of consumer and business products want to understand their entire experience with a brand before the buy. Shoppers—both B2B and B2C—have been burnt before. They’ve learned lessons the hard away. As a result, they often want to compare the technical product content provided by brands they know against brands they are considering. Support, training, and documentation content experiences often weigh heavily in purchase decision-making. Prospects seek confidence that they are making the best decision for themselves by examining all the information they believe they need beforehand.

But most brands mistakenly believe that a sales lifecycle is a customer journey. They spend considerable time and effort mapping out imaginary journeys designed for prospects to follow. These hypothetical adventures are baked up by well-intentioned, but misguided, content professionals who apparently believe that if they create a linear journey (or better yet, a sales funnel) that prospects will line up to stop at each touch point and smell the content. Nothing could be further from the truth. Customers don’t follow journey maps.

Creating exceptional technical product content experiences must be more than lip service

No brand wants products to be returned. No brand wants bad product reviews. No brands want to invest in creating sales pipelines that turn paying customers away. And, no brand wants to waste money producing content that fails to perform.

That’s what most brands say, at least. It’s hard to see evidence that their words are little more than lip service. Actions speak louder than words. Savvy-consumers have little tolerance for empty promises.

To be clear, customers expect more today than in the past. They know they deserve better. They know they have choices. You don’t have to be one of them. If your brand isn’t willing to serve their needs, chances are another company will.