The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 10 months 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 executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives train their sales and marketing teams to optimize 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 plays and building were rebuilding your brand and how to ensure you're prepared to get the greatest Roi from your efforts. To help us, we have with US Margot Bloomstein, author of trustworthy, how the smartest brands beat the cynicism and bridge the trust gap, and also a recognized brand and strategy consulted Margo. Thank you so much for taking time and welcome to the show. Thank you so much. I'm delighted to be speaking with you. So we always like to start with kind of off the wall question just so the audience gets to know a little bit better, and I'm always curious to learn something that you're passionate about that people that might know you only through work might be surprised to learn about. So I am a passionate museum visitor, I guess. I think that's fair to say. And of course, during the pandemic it's been a little tougher to go out and explore, to look for those outside external sources of 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 been a little bit more challenging. So I've been I've been hunting down more exhibits online that have been curated thoughtfully for for just experiencing behind your your laptop or off of your phone, and and that's been pretty exciting too. I think that that's sort of thinking like how people design experiences, like the order that goes 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 our worlds as well. So it's tough. Absolutely, absolutely. How are you finding the virtual exhibit? Some have been really good and I think because it's an opportunity for exhibit designers and for Cure, for curators to to kind of pull things 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's been pretty exciting. I think it also allows for some more long form storytelling maybe to share more background information around particular objects or particular art work. So that's been really kind of cool. I like that. Very cool, very cool. Yeah, I haven't done many of them. I'm excited because we finally got no point where I think it's going to be safe to go see the immersive and and go exhibit. I've had my eye on that for a while. 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 to happen. So I'm excited about that's great, nice. Yeah, I haven't seen that one yet. That'll be really cool. All right, so let's jump into kind of the topic of the day and and talk about your content strategy and how it helps brands evolve a rebuild their brands, and I kind of want to start with something that was in the advanced materials. It's and over and that's really understanding, or helping the audience understand why smart businesses should feel responsible for it, take ownership of customer confidence. I mean I think when we talk about customer confidence, consumer confidence, indiceas and whatnot in our economy that can be kind of like a big, big, lofty thing that kind 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 that shape and influence the consumers experience, when folks that are in in design and in content and in merchandising and and in sales, when we take ownership over the the confidence that a consumer or in...

BB context, that they're bringing into into the sales and purchasing experience, we can control so much more and really affect 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 feel in us, maybe maybe in the businesses where they're thinking about buying a product 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 sense of confidence that they feel like they have enough information to make good decisions and that idea giving somebody both enough information as well as the feeling that they have enough 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 page and and how we're allowing people to kind of dig through and experience and sort of 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 design and 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 that have there's so much information out there that they oftentimes will feel overwhelmed like how do I make sense of all of this? And I think there's a really important component to understanding the medium that which we're communicating with them through or providing the information through. But I'm curious from your perspective that requires us to have a really deep understanding of content, purpose and the design and how it's delivered. I'm curious how those to play in your perspective in terms of fostering that trust that we're looking for. So one of the one of the examples that I include in trustworthy. One of the the brands where I had the opportunity 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, they rework recipes in the cooks country magazine, they produce cooks illustrated. I've got an instagram feed, a twitter feed. They produce a lot of content and in 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 really good model to follow, not for the idea that you need to be publishing content everywhere and producing a lot of it, because that also gets to that other question 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 of mantras they're something that I heard when I was interviewing Jack Bishop there, their chief content officer, is that success breeds confidence and all of their content creation and 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 person consuming that content is successful with it. So, whether it's somebody that is like I have to make dinner tonight and I have no idea what I'm going to make, so they're swiping through instagram because that's what they've been doing all afternoon and now they're like, Yike's dinner. So they're meeting that consumer where they are 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. Or if they're meeting somebody that really spends a lot of time, maybe in the kitchen, this is not a novice, they want to learn more about the history of particular cooking techniques and ingredients,...

...the meeting that person where they are too 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, to say, what do we do to empower our audiences? What do we do to to make them feel like they can make good decisions and that whether they're they're making dinner tonight or they're making like a big ticket purchasing decision for for their organization, that they're going to be successful, so that that idea of success translates to confidence, which translates to trust. Well, and that okay. So that sense of trust, how how are you working with companies or how are you suggesting that they measure, measure that or determine that they are actually achieving that sense of trust and hope with their customers? Is it engagement scores? Is it? Does it go to top line revenue? And how are you helping companies understand the attribution, let's say, of the welldesigned content it's engaged with? What's that look like? I think when we measure trust we have to get really, really tactical, because it's it's too easy to sort of fall into the the trap of so many other buzzwords like trust and transparency and authenticity, where everybody wants them but nobody knows how to measure them. So I think when we measure something like trust, we have to be really tactical. And if you're in a if you're in an organization that that sells goods, look at your rate of product returns, because when, when that rate of returns is high, it means that people have been show rooming a lot, maybe buying a lot because they're uncertain what's going to be the right product for them or what's going to be the right size for them and 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 to make them trust the experience just out of the gate. And I think we can look at things like the rate of product returns. You can listen in on customer support calls and see are they asking about easily quantifiable information that they should be able to just discern by reading or by looking through a photo gallery? Are they focusing there or are they able to to ask about kind of like the more nuanced issues that that do require a conversation? So I think you can look at rate of product returns, you can listen in on on customer support calls, look the look the nature of those types of questions and then also look at customer sentiment analysis, because I think that by approaching it from all of those different angles, yeah, we get a better understanding of 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 they trusted the decision to purchase something when they initially made it and if they still felt good about that decision when the product arrived. And so, in order in order to do that right, in order it comes that, each company has 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. There are some companies that that do as much, if not more, then or some that do less. And I'm curious how would you advise a company to approach developing that voice and that volume of content so that they are not overwhelming and they're batter striking that balance between informing versus, you know, not providing enough 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 that development of voice for company? So, first and foremost, I think you have to develop a message architecture or a hierarchy of communication goals that's where I start with all of my clients, regardless of their of their size, the scope of the project, their business or...

...industry, if there be Toc or be to be. I think first we have to understand their hierarchy of communication goals. 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 scrappy or creative or or relationship oriented? Once we understand those qualities and and how they define them as well, because I mean one organization's modern is that could be absorative term in another organization, I think once we understand those qualities and how they define them, then we can start executing on that through choices in voice 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 they stand for in in a familiar and consistent way, so we can make those more tactical decisions after we understand their communication goals. Are they going to do that through really long, loquacious sentences and long form copy, or they going to use more short, terse sound bites and then a typeface that goes along with it in terms of being really creamlined and to the point. So we can make those visual and verbal decisions based on their communication goals, after we establish a message architecture. From there I think we can decide, well, how much do they need to say? And I think that question goes back to 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, or will one single diagram be enough to convey what your product is about or to convey how your service works? And then, similarly, we can say, do we need a lot of long form copy so that people can read through pages and pages of your research and get really comfortable that that they understand the terminology, or can we make this more about simple plane language where they feel like they get just enough info and then they can make that decision, that purchasing decision? So I think looking at attributes of voice and volume, first we have to establish that message architecture to begin with. Okay, and so we have that message architecture. Does it change? So I'm developing my voice and does the execution of it change based on the medium and how do we how we balance that? You know, an interactive website versus, I don't know, of youtube videos or social media versus ebooks or physical books? How does the medium itself change the way you're going to help the company realize that voice or the delivery of that voice? So I'm a big proponent that it is 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 in financial services, that wants to appear very established, reliable, errudite, that needs to come through, whether we're dealing with just two hundred day characters on twitter, like I don't want to see them like using law speak and a lot of abbreviations and whatnot. There needs to come through on twitter as well as 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 channels and platforms are right for all brands. If an organization wants to convey its thought leadership, yeah, maybe it makes sense to invest in white papers, to to partner with, with bringing your thought leaders together, with with ghost writers to get more of their thinking out there. Maybe it doesn't make as much sense for them to have a youtube..., but if an organization wants to 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, the very 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 different aspects of the tone based on those channels, but always in a way that is consistent with the the goals in the message architecture. And I think a big reason for that is that we've all seen this before. I think anybody that 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 maybe have a catalog that they used with with some of their their sales targets and then they had salespeople as well and maybe a burgeoning website. We all saw what it looked like when they didn't share the same policies or the same ways of thinking about the product or the experience, how it could be such a weird and bifurcated experience for the audience. And today the same thing holds true. Your audience may start by engaging with you, maybe on twitter or in a trade show, and then go to your website to check that out and then maybe check back against some print collateral that they've received as well. And if the messaging is not the same among all those different channels, that undermines their trust, that undermines your your authenticity, and I think if we want to get 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 then there's also the need for the voice and the content and the messaging to combat disinformation 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 at these channels? How should they be paying attention to, or how much attention to be paying to kind of different disinformation and combating that in their own content strategy. I think when we're talking about disinformation, maybe from from competitors or or maybe misconceptions that are sort of dogging your industry, the best way for your company to to get out ahead of that and and also be, I would say, maybe a transformative force in your industry, more of it, an industry leader, is by really embracing the opportunity to be transparent make more information public. So this gets back to that idea. We're talking about voice and volume. I think this is an aspect of volume. The more your organization shares about about Your Road Map, about your processes, maybe about sourcaying about your supply chain, that's arming your audience then with more information so that they 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 I think that that is the responsibility and per view of every smart business. I think we've been talking about voice and volume. I I would say that the other the other sort of V that goes along with those, and these are kind of the three pillars that I write about and trustworthy. In addition to voice and volume, there's also vulnerability.

So embracing the opportunity to kind of share how your business works, to to bring more of your audience into the process of how you are evolving, maybe how you're how you're learning and continuing to change in your organization, whether that's around social issues, how to do business better, maybe about how to improve your supply chain. The more that you can prototype in public and effectively bring your audience into those processes, I think, the more it it helps to beat back cynicism and helps to to really push those those questions and and cynicism about disinformation. It helps to push that all into the background so that you can have better conversations with your audience about what is true about Your Business and industry. I love it. And so 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 small thing. It takes a lot, a lot of time. From I'm talked to a lot of authors and it's always a yeah, I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but I'm curious to know kind of what was the inspiration and the journey to get that done. Well, this is my second book, so I'd like to think I knew what I was getting myself 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, and I mean in two thousand and twelve I published content strategy at work and that was looking at how businesses embrace content strategy and in what was then sort of a nascent industry and nascent part of how we make the web and that was writing really to an audience of marketers and writers and content strategists and designers with trustworthy I think I was writing to that audience. It's kind of a love letter to that audience to say the world may be on fire, but our work 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 is vital and necessary and it's important for our businesses, it's important for our target audiences and I think for many of us it's important. When we get up at the beginning of the day and and go to see what we need to do that day too. I think it's important to maintain that focus and in the inspiration, I guess, was looking back five six years, going back now to presidential election cycles, to say the way we get information, the way we come to trust information and trust what we think we know about that information has changed and people don't push back on disinformation the way they they want used to. I mean used to be if you caught a politician in a lie, that it would it would scuttle their campaign and and that wasn't happening five six years ago and if anything, people were doubling down around their beliefs they they were doubling down around how they thought of themselves, if they thought on themselves as a Democrat or Republican, a trump supporter, a Clinton supporter, went to the point where new information did not sway their self, perception and 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 which I work, they're not really in the realm of politics and media, but I wondered if those problems would affect them as well, if those issues would one day affect marketers marketing departments in retail and healthcare and financial services and and software and all the other industry sectors. Turns out, what they do maybe more than we'd like to admit, but...

...yeah, probably. But you know what, I think that it is a it's a big problem because issues of trust undermine marketing. Today. We can't have like the same big influential conversations that we once could with our audiences. We need to change the nature of those conversations because marketing falls flat and sales cycles are taking longer, and it's not just because of the pandemic. And I think that we can look at that and say, well, yes, cynicism is undermining so many of our industries, 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 brands and brain storms and we look at the world as it is and say it can be better. Let's make it so that it will be better, and I 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 from the 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, you obviously getting prospected to on a regular base. Somebody's always probably trying to sell you something, and I'm curious to know when somebody doesn't have a trusted referral into you, what works for you, when somebody's trying to capture your attention and earn the right to time on your calendar. I think when when they could demonstrate in their outreach that they've done their homework, that they're interested in me not just as another numbers, as a hot target, but because they're interested in helping me build a stronger business. And why? Because maybe our passions aligne in some way. And then, when they demonstrate that that they've done their homework, they spell my name correctly the opening of the email and or 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 know yeah, and that's when we hear quite quite often. So when we think about the last question, we call it our acceleration and insight. And if there was one thing, one piece of advice you could give marketing or professional services people, are sales people, one piece of advice that, if they 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 audience and don't sell your thing. Solve their problems, because I think that when we when we develop that compassion for for someone else's problems, it helps us fit into their world in a way that is is relevant, and there's there's no 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 enough for being on the show today. Where do you would you like us to send listeners if they're interested in reaching out to you? Best Place to get the book? Help give the audience kind of a next step. How do 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, or you 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 are gold in helping to articulate and convey my words, and you can find me on 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 you on the show. Thank you so much. This was a lot of fun. All right, everybody that does it for this episode. You know the drill. CHECK US out to be to be read exactcom share with friends, family co workers. If you like what you hear, leave us review on itunes and until next time, we have value selling associates, which you all nothing 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 in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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