Every piece of B2B content we write starts with the buyer conversation. Case studies, articles, ebooks, long-form guides, white papers, even blog posts, video scripts and sales presentations – you name it, and no matter how technical it is or how exciting the product or solution is that we’re writing about, we virtually won’t write a word until we’ve talked with a customer or two. Why? Because even if we have reams of information about the technology topic we’re covering and 15 years of experience in the industry, you can count on this:
Without the buyers’ perspective, we are limiting our point of view to the manufacturer’s – with a bit of ours thrown in – and making assumptions about the reader.
Or as I call it, “guessing, then typing.” Or as readers would call it if we missed the mark, “boring, then wasting my time.” It could be worse. It could be wrong, condescending, irrelevant, redundant, or out of touch. I’ll go a step further. If your writing is just about the product or company, it’s not content. It’s not even marketing. It’s documentation.

It starts with a buyer conversation

When you create B2B content – and I mean the kind that
  • Educates
  • Informs
  • Makes an argument
  • States and defends a position
  • Pitches an idea
  • Discusses an issue
  • Plants a seed
…heck, anything that essentially aims to have people nodding their heads in agreement (or questioning their own skepticism) – you first need to have conversations with some representatives of those people. We have a specific method for engaging in those conversations, as do other B2B writers I’ve seen who rely on interviews for their content. An important part of our method is focused on improving the quality of the discussion itself, listening for cues and asking certain questions a certain way depending upon what kind of information we’re seeking. But – probably because we came from the broadcast journalism industry – another crucial component of our method is the entire system around the interview. Basically, it’s the process we follow from start to finish in order to get an efficient, clear, unmistakable, encyclopedic rendition of the conversation in the customer’s words. Yes, the real-live talk is engaging and valuable – but the transcript is pure content gold.

Mine for Interview Gold

After all, it’s searchable, copy-and-paste-able, and quotable. It’s formattable into tables to categorize the topics, themes, or issues discussed, or into bullets that can be rearranged chronologically or by importance. You can paste it into a word cloud generator and create a graphic highlighting the buyers’ most important issues. (Usually the most important issue seems to be “the,” but there are ways to get around that.) Upon re-reading, you can probably find three or four topics you’d never thought about and add them to your editorial calendar too. Depending upon how you interviewed, it’s a whole story, filled with a beginning, middle end, sound bites, and color commentary. But best of all, you can use your customer’s words in the communications and content around your solution – and you can do it in the context of your customer’s stated challenges. Thus, our tip for a great, free first step: capture every word of those vital customer interviews so that you won’t miss a single nuance of the buyer conversation. Do not think you can listen to your buyer and write everything down. Or type. Or take obscure notes. You can’t. (Not and get all those buckets of value I listed out above.) Why? It’s simple:

Distraction is the enemy of valuable conversation.

Truth. Think about it this way. No: think about it in three ways.
  • One, you try to write everything down, but your memory is really only good for about half of each sentence. So you miss the other half, and who’s to say that wasn’t the more important half?
  • Two, you lag in your writing, so you have long delays from the time your customer finished a sentence to the time you ask another one. Awkward pause. Everyone understands; there’s no hard feelings, but there goes your flow.
  • Speaking of flow, here’s number three: you can only half-listen if you’re writing. One thought actually can’t flow easily to another. Your questions, arranged in order, read like an interrogation instead of a conversation. You may get exactly the information you need, but distracting yourself by writing eliminates all the extra content value you could have achieved.
When you’re tuned into the customer – and only the customer – the content you create will reflect their key issues and pain points back to them, and resonate more effectively. But it’s not easy to stay so focused. So we’ve created a process to let tools and technology do the mundane work while we remain engaged with the buyer conversation. Sign up here to download our free, practical guide to getting a perfect customer interview that you can draw from to create your content.

Want more valuable content? Have better buyer conversations.

Nailing this process effortlessly means you won’t be distracted by logistics so your attention will be 100% on the discussion. This is positively crucial. Because how can you be customer-focused in your marketing content, if you’re not during your conversations?