The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 1 month ago

How Content Strategy Shapes Your Customer Relationships w/ Margot Bloomstein


It’s the mid-70’s and you’ve just purchased your first new car — a Ford Pinto. The commercials convinced you that this car was built to survive a demolition derby, while the salesman in the lounge suit convinced you it didn’t matter that you couldn’t drive stick. Now you don’t know what’s worse — grinding the gears and stalling every 200 yards or that the bike messenger who bumped into your fender last time you did sent the entire car up in flames. Could anything make you trust a brand’s content (or yourself) again?

If anyone could, it would be today’s guest, Margot Bloomstein, author of Trustworthy and Brand & Strategy Consultant at Appropriate, Inc, who joins the show to discuss how effective content strategy is for building customer confidence and trust in your brand.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why customers need to be confident in you and themselves
  • How to help your customers succeed (and why that builds trust)
  • The 3 V’s of content strategy
  • Why you need a consistent voice across all channels

Now that you know how to build trust and confidence with your content strategy, are you ready to learn how to optimize your tech stack or dive into how Google’s new rules impact your SEO? Check out the full list of episodes: The B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

You're listening to the BDB revenue executiveexperience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives train their sales and marketing teams tooptimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources,you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two, one. Welcome everyone to the BB revenue executive experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking about content strategy, the role it playsand building were rebuilding your brand and how to ensure you're prepared to get thegreatest Roi from your efforts. To help us, we have with US MargotBloomstein, author of trustworthy, how the smartest brands beat the cynicism and bridgethe trust gap, and also a recognized brand and strategy consulted Margo. Thankyou so much for taking time and welcome to the show. Thank you somuch. I'm delighted to be speaking with you. So we always like tostart with kind of off the wall question just so the audience gets to knowa little bit better, and I'm always curious to learn something that you're passionateabout that people that might know you only through work might be surprised to learnabout. So I am a passionate museum visitor, I guess. I thinkthat's fair to say. And of course, during the pandemic it's been a littletougher to go out and explore, to look for those outside external sourcesof inspiration that I think many of us like to, like to look to, like to bring into our day or our week. So so that's beena little bit more challenging. So I've been I've been hunting down more exhibitsonline that have been curated thoughtfully for for just experiencing behind your your laptop oroff of your phone, and and that's been pretty exciting too. I thinkthat that's sort of thinking like how people design experiences, like the order thatgoes into the things that they want us to experience, the hierarchy of information. Of course, that that all directly translates into what we do in ourworlds as well. So it's tough. Absolutely, absolutely. How are youfinding the virtual exhibit? Some have been really good and I think because it'san opportunity for exhibit designers and for Cure, for curators to to kind of pullthings out of their collections that maybe they can't normally put on display,but they can on on a website, on a web page, so that'sbeen pretty exciting. I think it also allows for some more long form storytellingmaybe to share more background information around particular objects or particular art work. Sothat's been really kind of cool. I like that. Very cool, verycool. Yeah, I haven't done many of them. I'm excited because wefinally got no point where I think it's going to be safe to go seethe immersive and and go exhibit. I've had my eye on that for awhile. But obviously the covid yeah, you know, not so much,but it looks like we're actually going to point where that may be able tohappen. So I'm excited about that's great, nice. Yeah, I haven't seenthat one yet. That'll be really cool. All right, so let'sjump into kind of the topic of the day and and talk about your contentstrategy and how it helps brands evolve a rebuild their brands, and I kindof want to start with something that was in the advanced materials. It's andover and that's really understanding, or helping the audience understand why smart businesses shouldfeel responsible for it, take ownership of customer confidence. I mean I thinkwhen we talk about customer confidence, consumer confidence, indiceas and whatnot in oureconomy that can be kind of like a big, big, lofty thing thatkind of affects our larger economy. But of course our economy comprises consumers,individual consumers, and individual businesses, many small businesses as well as large businesses, and I think that when those business owners, when the marketers that thatshape and influence the consumers experience, when folks that are in in design andin content and in merchandising and and in sales, when we take ownership overthe the confidence that a consumer or in...

BB context, that they're bringing intointo the sales and purchasing experience, we can control so much more and reallyaffect so much more of our success and the and the wellbeing of our businesses. So when I talk about customer confidence, I'm looking at how confident they feelin us, maybe maybe in the businesses where they're thinking about buying aproduct or where they're thinking about doing business, but also their confidence in themselves,in their own ability to make good decisions and in their sense their senseof confidence that they feel like they have enough information to make good decisions andthat idea giving somebody both enough information as well as the feeling that they haveenough information. I think that that's something that we can directly control through marketing, through through how we make choices about the density of information on the pageand and how we're allowing people to kind of dig through and experience and sortof control their own ability to self educate. We can influence all of that.So when we do address those things through our choices and content and designand marketing, that directly adds up to building the confidence in our target audience. Well, it's a really good point, right. So we've have people thathave there's so much information out there that they oftentimes will feel overwhelmed likehow do I make sense of all of this? And I think there's areally important component to understanding the medium that which we're communicating with them through orproviding the information through. But I'm curious from your perspective that requires us tohave a really deep understanding of content, purpose and the design and how it'sdelivered. I'm curious how those to play in your perspective in terms of fosteringthat trust that we're looking for. So one of the one of the examplesthat I include in trustworthy. One of the the brands where I had theopportunity to interview folks and spend a lot of time is America's test kitchen,and of course they're an amazing publishing platform. They produce cooking school shows, theyrework recipes in the cooks country magazine, they produce cooks illustrated. I've gotan instagram feed, a twitter feed. They produce a lot of content andin the in the modern economy where we say that all businesses are publishers, if they're doing things right, they are. They're kind of a reallygood model to follow, not for the idea that you need to be publishingcontent everywhere and producing a lot of it, because that also gets to that otherquestion of well, how do you know when you're producing enough content?I don't think they're they're the best role model for all organizations in that regard, but rather I look to them because one of the the big kind ofmantras they're something that I heard when I was interviewing Jack Bishop there, theirchief content officer, is that success breeds confidence and all of their content creationand the way they design their content, how they handle storytelling and whatnot,all goes back to that idea that they want to make sure that the personconsuming that content is successful with it. So, whether it's somebody that islike I have to make dinner tonight and I have no idea what I'm goingto make, so they're swiping through instagram because that's what they've been doing allafternoon and now they're like, Yike's dinner. So they're meeting that consumer where theyare and say, all right, while you're on our instagram feed,let's show you a recipe in which every step is reduced to a single image, with the instructions for that that image as the caption for it. Orif they're meeting somebody that really spends a lot of time, maybe in thekitchen, this is not a novice, they want to learn more about thehistory of particular cooking techniques and ingredients,...

...the meeting that person where they aretoo and enabling them to be successful and this idea that success breeds confidence.We can hold that up, I think, in any in any business, tosay, what do we do to empower our audiences? What do wedo to to make them feel like they can make good decisions and that whetherthey're they're making dinner tonight or they're making like a big ticket purchasing decision forfor their organization, that they're going to be successful, so that that ideaof success translates to confidence, which translates to trust. Well, and thatokay. So that sense of trust, how how are you working with companiesor how are you suggesting that they measure, measure that or determine that they areactually achieving that sense of trust and hope with their customers? Is itengagement scores? Is it? Does it go to top line revenue? Andhow are you helping companies understand the attribution, let's say, of the welldesigned contentit's engaged with? What's that look like? I think when we measuretrust we have to get really, really tactical, because it's it's too easyto sort of fall into the the trap of so many other buzzwords like trustand transparency and authenticity, where everybody wants them but nobody knows how to measurethem. So I think when we measure something like trust, we have tobe really tactical. And if you're in a if you're in an organization thatthat sells goods, look at your rate of product returns, because when,when that rate of returns is high, it means that people have been showrooming a lot, maybe buying a lot because they're uncertain what's going to bethe right product for them or what's going to be the right size for themand figuring that out at home and then sending a bunch of stuff back.When they're sending a lot of stuff back, it's because there wasn't enough information tomake them trust the experience just out of the gate. And I thinkwe can look at things like the rate of product returns. You can listenin on customer support calls and see are they asking about easily quantifiable information thatthey should be able to just discern by reading or by looking through a photogallery? Are they focusing there or are they able to to ask about kindof like the more nuanced issues that that do require a conversation? So Ithink you can look at rate of product returns, you can listen in onon customer support calls, look the look the nature of those types of questionsand then also look at customer sentiment analysis, because I think that by approaching itfrom all of those different angles, yeah, we get a better understandingof just how happy someone is with with maybe a purchase or something like that, but we also get a sense of a very measurable sense of if theytrusted the decision to purchase something when they initially made it and if they stillfelt good about that decision when the product arrived. And so, in orderin order to do that right, in order it comes that, each companyhas to come up with a voice, like there their representation of self,and that part of that is tone, part of it is the medium,part of its volume of content. I mean the example you use. Thereare some companies that that do as much, if not more, then or somethat do less. And I'm curious how would you advise a company toapproach developing that voice and that volume of content so that they are not overwhelmingand they're batter striking that balance between informing versus, you know, not providingenough information and not doing it in a way that's authentic, word doesn't resonate. What are the some of the key things for you that go into thatdevelopment of voice for company? So, first and foremost, I think youhave to develop a message architecture or a hierarchy of communication goals that's where Istart with all of my clients, regardless of their of their size, thescope of the project, their business or...

...industry, if there be Toc orbe to be. I think first we have to understand their hierarchy of communicationgoals. Is it most important for them to convey that they're reliable and responsible, or is it most important for them to convey that they're innovative or scrappyor creative or or relationship oriented? Once we understand those qualities and and howthey define them as well, because I mean one organization's modern is that couldbe absorative term in another organization, I think once we understand those qualities andhow they define them, then we can start executing on that through choices invoice that is both visual and verbal. So when I use the term voice, I'm talking about how, visually and verbally, and organization conveys what theystand for in in a familiar and consistent way, so we can make thosemore tactical decisions after we understand their communication goals. Are they going to dothat through really long, loquacious sentences and long form copy, or they goingto use more short, terse sound bites and then a typeface that goes alongwith it in terms of being really creamlined and to the point. So wecan make those visual and verbal decisions based on their communication goals, after weestablish a message architecture. From there I think we can decide, well,how much do they need to say? And I think that question goes backto well, how much does your audience need, again, visually and verbally, to make good decisions and then feel good about the decisions they make?So do they need photo galleries that contain dozens and dozens of images, orwill one single diagram be enough to convey what your product is about or toconvey how your service works? And then, similarly, we can say, dowe need a lot of long form copy so that people can read throughpages and pages of your research and get really comfortable that that they understand theterminology, or can we make this more about simple plane language where they feellike they get just enough info and then they can make that decision, thatpurchasing decision? So I think looking at attributes of voice and volume, firstwe have to establish that message architecture to begin with. Okay, and sowe have that message architecture. Does it change? So I'm developing my voiceand does the execution of it change based on the medium and how do wehow we balance that? You know, an interactive website versus, I don'tknow, of youtube videos or social media versus ebooks or physical books? Howdoes the medium itself change the way you're going to help the company realize thatvoice or the delivery of that voice? So I'm a big proponent that itis one ring to rule them all, one voice from one message architecture.But we do kind of dial the tone up and down depending on the medium. So, for example, if I'm working with an organization, maybe infinancial services, that wants to appear very established, reliable, errudite, thatneeds to come through, whether we're dealing with just two hundred day characters ontwitter, like I don't want to see them like using law speak and alot of abbreviations and whatnot. There needs to come through on twitter as wellas in their white papers when maybe they've got all the space in the world. But I think we can make other choices that say, not all channelsand platforms are right for all brands. If an organization wants to convey itsthought leadership, yeah, maybe it makes sense to invest in white papers,to to partner with, with bringing your thought leaders together, with with ghostwriters to get more of their thinking out there. Maybe it doesn't make asmuch sense for them to have a youtube..., but if an organization wantsto convey the they're very responsive and engaged and very service oriented, then yes, they should be all over social media and engaging in the conversations, thevery fast and timely conversations, with their audience where they are having those conversations. So I think we can look at the choice of channels dial up differentaspects of the tone based on those channels, but always in a way that isconsistent with the the goals in the message architecture. And I think abig reason for that is that we've all seen this before. I think anybodythat lived through maybe e commerce in the in the early s lived through this, or, I guess early to late S as e commerce was evolving,and I'll we all saw kind of in the early days there when organizations maybehave a catalog that they used with with some of their their sales targets andthen they had salespeople as well and maybe a burgeoning website. We all sawwhat it looked like when they didn't share the same policies or the same waysof thinking about the product or the experience, how it could be such a weirdand bifurcated experience for the audience. And today the same thing holds true. Your audience may start by engaging with you, maybe on twitter or ina trade show, and then go to your website to check that out andthen maybe check back against some print collateral that they've received as well. Andif the messaging is not the same among all those different channels, that underminestheir trust, that undermines your your authenticity, and I think if we want toget past that, if we want to build to trust with our audiences, we need to start by being consistent across channels and with our message architecture. Okay, so let's think about it from a different perspective, because thenthere's also the need for the voice and the content and the messaging to combatdisinformation and things that maybe I don't want to say aren't one hundred percent accurate. Let's just say that, which is different from it disinformation in general.And so how do company's house companies as are developing these voices and looking atthese channels? How should they be paying attention to, or how much attentionto be paying to kind of different disinformation and combating that in their own contentstrategy. I think when we're talking about disinformation, maybe from from competitors oror maybe misconceptions that are sort of dogging your industry, the best way foryour company to to get out ahead of that and and also be, Iwould say, maybe a transformative force in your industry, more of it,an industry leader, is by really embracing the opportunity to be transparent make moreinformation public. So this gets back to that idea. We're talking about voiceand volume. I think this is an aspect of volume. The more yourorganization shares about about Your Road Map, about your processes, maybe about sourcayingabout your supply chain, that's arming your audience then with more information so thatthey feel smarter, like they know what's going on. When they feel smarter, when they do have access to accurate, high quality information about your industry,about your company, that helps to inoculate them against disinformation and and Ithink that that is the responsibility and per view of every smart business. Ithink we've been talking about voice and volume. I I would say that the otherthe other sort of V that goes along with those, and these arekind of the three pillars that I write about and trustworthy. In addition tovoice and volume, there's also vulnerability.

So embracing the opportunity to kind ofshare how your business works, to to bring more of your audience into theprocess of how you are evolving, maybe how you're how you're learning and continuingto change in your organization, whether that's around social issues, how to dobusiness better, maybe about how to improve your supply chain. The more thatyou can prototype in public and effectively bring your audience into those processes, Ithink, the more it it helps to beat back cynicism and helps to toreally push those those questions and and cynicism about disinformation. It helps to pushthat all into the background so that you can have better conversations with your audienceabout what is true about Your Business and industry. I love it. Andso you mentioned the book again. Let's talk about the book for a second. What was the what was the inspiration? I mean writing a books no smallthing. It takes a lot, a lot of time. From I'mtalked to a lot of authors and it's always a yeah, I didn't knowwhat I was getting myself into, but I'm curious to know kind of whatwas the inspiration and the journey to get that done. Well, this ismy second book, so I'd like to think I knew what I was gettingmyself into, but you know, I mean it's probably like with that,it's like with kids. Everyone is different and every book is too, andI mean in two thousand and twelve I published content strategy at work and thatwas looking at how businesses embrace content strategy and in what was then sort ofa nascent industry and nascent part of how we make the web and that waswriting really to an audience of marketers and writers and content strategists and designers withtrustworthy I think I was writing to that audience. It's kind of a loveletter to that audience to say the world may be on fire, but ourwork still has a tremendous amount of value, maybe even more of value now,because the work that we can do in in helping to build trust isvital and necessary and it's important for our businesses, it's important for our targetaudiences and I think for many of us it's important. When we get upat the beginning of the day and and go to see what we need todo that day too. I think it's important to maintain that focus and inthe inspiration, I guess, was looking back five six years, going backnow to presidential election cycles, to say the way we get information, theway we come to trust information and trust what we think we know about thatinformation has changed and people don't push back on disinformation the way they they wantused to. I mean used to be if you caught a politician in alie, that it would it would scuttle their campaign and and that wasn't happeningfive six years ago and if anything, people were doubling down around their beliefsthey they were doubling down around how they thought of themselves, if they thoughton themselves as a Democrat or Republican, a trump supporter, a Clinton supporter, went to the point where new information did not sway their self, perceptionand their beliefs about themselves, even if to change their beliefs about the candidate. And I wondered, even though my my audience then the organizations with whichI work, they're not really in the realm of politics and media, butI wondered if those problems would affect them as well, if those issues wouldone day affect marketers marketing departments in retail and healthcare and financial services and andsoftware and all the other industry sectors. Turns out, what they do maybemore than we'd like to admit, but...

...yeah, probably. But you knowwhat, I think that it is a it's a big problem because issues oftrust undermine marketing. Today. We can't have like the same big influential conversationsthat we once could with our audiences. We need to change the nature ofthose conversations because marketing falls flat and sales cycles are taking longer, and it'snot just because of the pandemic. And I think that we can look atthat and say, well, yes, cynicism is undermining so many of ourindustries, but CENTEX look at the world as it is and say it's worse. I think that designers and marketers and copywriters, we are builders of brandsand brain storms and we look at the world as it is and say itcan be better. Let's make it so that it will be better, andI think that we already have the tools to do that. I love it. It's a great perspective and a nice way to segment the the cynicism fromthe designers. I love that. So let's Change Direction here a little bit. We ask all of our guests to standard questions towards the Inter eachane read. The first is simply, as a well sought after strategy sold, youobviously getting prospected to on a regular base. Somebody's always probably trying to sell yousomething, and I'm curious to know when somebody doesn't have a trusted referralinto you, what works for you, when somebody's trying to capture your attentionand earn the right to time on your calendar. I think when when theycould demonstrate in their outreach that they've done their homework, that they're interested inme not just as another numbers, as a hot target, but because they'reinterested in helping me build a stronger business. And why? Because maybe our passionsaligne in some way. And then, when they demonstrate that that they've donetheir homework, they spell my name correctly the opening of the email andor they're able to like reference kind of our shared interests in the industry.That definitely catches my attention. Love it. Show you, show them they knowyeah, and that's when we hear quite quite often. So when wethink about the last question, we call it our acceleration and insight. Andif there was one thing, one piece of advice you could give marketing orprofessional services people, are sales people, one piece of advice that, ifthey listen to you believe would help them hit, where exceed their targets,what would it be and why? I would say get to know your audienceand don't sell your thing. Solve their problems, because I think that whenwe when we develop that compassion for for someone else's problems, it helps usfit into their world in a way that is is relevant, and there's there'sno better, I think there's no better compliment in our business relationships then relevance. I love it. I love it, Margo. I can't thank you enoughfor being on the show today. Where do you would you like usto send listeners if they're interested in reaching out to you? Best Place toget the book? Help give the audience kind of a next step. Howdo they reach out and connect? You can find trustworthy everywhere books are sold. Definitely a good idea to order through your favorite small book store, oryou can find it on Amazon as well, and if you've if you've read it, please go write a review on Amazon, because your words are aregold in helping to articulate and convey my words, and you can find meon twitter at at M Bloomstein or online at APPROPRIATINGCOM. I love it.Thank you so much again for taking the time. It's been amazing having youon the show. Thank you so much. This was a lot of fun.All right, everybody that does it for this episode. You know thedrill. CHECK US out to be to be read exactcom share with friends,family co workers. If you like what you hear, leave us review onitunes and until next time, we have value selling associates, which you allnothing but the greatest success. You've been listening to the BB revenue executive experience. To ensure that you never miss an...

...episode, subscribe to the show inItunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Untilnext time,.

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