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How to Talk to Your Prospects

So you’ve defined your digital content marketing strategy and you are excited to begin reaching out to your prospects. You’ve laid all of the groundwork to begin getting your message out there—you’ve identified your ideal prospects and outlined how you’ll describe their challenges and common problems. You’ve even mapped out an editorial plan to develop content that will publish regularly across your firm’s areas of expertise.

Next comes one of the most crucial parts: You set to work to begin creating content that will share your expertise with the world.

In other words, you begin talking to your prospects. This is where it can get tricky. How do you talk to prospects? What should you say to them first?

Who are Cold Prospects and How Do I Get Their Attention?
As you know, before you begin marketing you must define your ideal future client. If you have created a target audience persona then you should be pretty familiar with the types of people you are reaching out to with your marketing efforts. While you may know a lot about them, if you think about it, most of your prospects are complete strangers.  They’ve never heard of you, they don’t know what you do, and they don’t know anything about your track record.

Logically, your instinct signals that you should first introduce yourself, tell them all of the things you are good at and all of the other great companies you’ve helped over the years. Perhaps you’ll throw in a bit about your culture and your company mission. These tactics make sense.

This is precisely what many of our clients are inclined to do right out of the gate when they are launching their content strategy.

There’s one problem.  Who does this help? Not your prospects—and really not you either. Your cold prospects don’t care about your firm. Not yet anyway. That may sound harsh, but to them you are just another voice in the crowd.  Another firm pushing their services on them with another sales pitch, another piece of useless content, and another spammy email. So how do you get their attention? How do you make them care? How do you show them that you are different?

Empathy.  I know, I know, empathy is probably on the list of the most popular buzzwords in the corporate world right now, but it’s there for a reason.

You need to show your prospects that you understand their world.  Identify their problems, show you can relate to them, help them understand, and then demonstrate your knowledge of solutions for overcoming those challenges.

When Can We Talk About Our Firm?
Now before anyone gets up in arms, let me circle back to talking about yourself, what you do, and who you’ve helped.  Sharing your work, who you are, details about your services, and case studies of the clients you’ve helped are all extremely important.  In fact, we have some pretty specific recommendations for how and when to do this best on your website. Learn how to structure your case studies, service detail pages, and work pages for the most optimal prospect experience.

Share the Right Message at the Right Time
Talking about yourself might not be your best opening line when talking to complete strangers. Most cold prospects will not be entering your site through the front door of your home page or even a positioning page but rather through a content marketing article. In order to engage a prospect who has found your content through search we need to deliver a helpful response to their search query. Otherwise, if they are met with a sales pitch that they are not ready for they may return to Google for a better answer to their initial question. There is a time and a place for talking about your firm but in your content strategy and accompanying outbound marketing emails, it’s crucial to meet your prospects where they are right now.

Specifically, you need to create targeted messages across two main buying cycle stages: the researcher stage and the evaluator stage. These are the times in a prospect’s buying journey when they are most likely to be reading your content.

In short, researchers are trying to better understand their challenges and are primarily seeking education. They have not yet decided to invest in the help of a firm like yours and they are not ready to hear about you yet.  On the other hand, evaluators are vetting your expertise and want to understand how you might address a situation like theirs—you can begin to share your process and competitive advantage at this buying cycle stage.

These are the primary categories that your prospects will fall into when you reach out via email or they discover you on Google via a content marketing article. Regardless of their buying cycle stage, these earlier stage prospects who are reading your content, are likely not ready to talk to you just yet and the focus must remain squarely on them. So how do you get them from point A to point B?

How to Talk to Prospects With Your Content
Okay, so when you sit down to write where do you begin? It’s time to get back to empathy. Begin by describing the topic; frame the challenge your prospects are experiencing as THEY would describe it.  This needs to be an immediately recognizable situation to them or they will bounce from the page thinking this article won’t help them or doesn’t apply to them. For example, if you open an article by saying, “At AcmeFirm, we have an approach that we call The ABC Approach…” you run the risk of your prospects smelling a sales pitch coming and giving up without reading any further. In the mind of a prospect it’s all about them. And why shouldn’t they feel that way?

You can’t let your own sales objectives get in the way of helping your prospects understand and solve their problems.  You have to stop talking about yourself and instead focus on your prospects and be generous with your expertise. Deliver a message that is relevant and meaningful to the situation your prospects find themselves in.

Demonstrating an understanding of the circumstances they are up against will build their trust in you and boost your firm’s credibility. This may take a few paragraphs. It’s easy to fall into the trap of immediately trying to provide education—but aim to describe the challenge, then begin educating.  Skipping over this empathetic description will make it more difficult to win over your reader and chances are they won’t see the value in the solution you recommend either.

How to Talk to Prospects via Email Marketing Messages
When it comes to sharing your content with your email marketing list there are some common pitfalls that many firms fall into. When you get to drafting an email, it can again be tempting to feel the need to introduce yourself, provide context on the background of your firm, and talk about the great things your firm has done. Similarly to writing a piece of expertise-based content, you need to keep the focus on your prospects.

We have all received enough sales and marketing emails at this point to sniff them out a mile away. The key is to be sure that your emails are relevant and helpful without an ounce of hard sales.

If you’ve followed this advice it should be pretty easy to write an effective email to promote your article.  Take a similar approach to drafting your email as you did with your content, but condense everything down to an email context. Keep in mind that most people are scanning their email quickly and deciding to keep or delete each message. Begin by speaking directly to your prospects in an empathetic tone.  Briefly describe the situation they find themselves in and present the value proposition of your article. Finally, provide an active call to action and don’t forget a link to your article. Friendly reminder: Don’t fall into the trap of talking about yourself or going on at length about the qualifications of the author. Waiting to talk about your qualifications doesn’t dilute the quality of your insight but keeps the focus on helping your prospects. If you’re just starting to send to a cold, purchased email list, make sure to follow the right steps to warm up those contacts.

Adopting a content marketing strategy can be a big change in the way that you talk about your firm and your services.  Many firms sell in a more traditional way for years before they shift to marketing from a position of expertise.  While it may seem counterintuitive at first, the less you talk about yourself and the more you focus on educating your prospects, the more your ideal future clients will gravitate toward you.

Freely share your perspective on the challenges your prospects are experiencing and they will learn from you, grow in their understanding, and eventually reach out to see if you might be a good fit to help them.

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