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Dec 15, 201403:35 PMOpen Mic

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Why you need to use your website to teach your customers

(page 1 of 2)

What expectations do you have for your website? Should it be a digital business card? Should it be a lengthier version of your advertising brochure? Or could it be much, much more?

If 57% of the average business-to-business transaction happens before buyers engage with your salespeople (more on this later), is your website simply a commercial or is it a source for these buyers to educate themselves? The Internet has evolved, and your website should too. This article will show you why you need to use your website to teach your customers.

But what should I teach?

Whether it’s the written word, audio recordings, or video recordings, when it comes to producing content, you should begin moving from playing the role of salesperson to the role of teacher.

Often we’re apprehensive when it comes to producing content because we drastically overthink the process. The biggest mistake we all make is thinking we’re writing for our peers. When we try to write for our peers, we often make the material too complex. Why? We like to impress those in our industry while at the same time showing everyone else how smart we are.

But you should write for the person who knows nothing about your business. Why? Because the vast majority of people know nothing about your business. We all suffer from the curse of knowledge. When we assume our potential customers are as well informed as we are, we tend to write content (and teach) with too high a degree of complexity.

Our customers don’t care how smart we are (yet). Our customers want to educate themselves before making that ultimate buying decision, and ever-improving technology has allowed everyone to do this. Think about how our Google search queries have evolved over the past decade. Say you’re a parent of a toddler and you’re searching for a car seat online. Here is the evolution of search queries in that brief period:

2004: Car seats

2009: Best car seats

2014: What is the best car seat for my toddler?


Old to new | New to old
Dec 16, 2014 06:19 am
 Posted by  kostermank

Couldn't agree more! The days of slapping a website online and hoping people will find you are long gone. Even the cliche "organic SEO" techniques have become almost completely irrelevant.

The way to be found (and trusted) online these days is definitely to create quality, relevant content. And a lot of it!

Very well said, Mr. Smith.

Dec 16, 2014 06:54 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Great article. He's right. Our customers know a lot more than they used to. Does the author mean we should have a FAQ on our site or something different? If he reads this I'd appreciate his thoughts.

Dec 16, 2014 11:04 am
 Posted by  EvanWing

Well said, Spence. I love how the questions that I ask Google truly aren't answered by a simple keyword search anymore. When I'm researching (and could be as simple as how to change a headlamp on my car), I pretend that I'm literally speaking the question to Google in a conversation, and my question gets answered within the first few search results. It's almost comical having that "conversation" with a computer work so well.

To Anonymous above, I won't put words in the author's mouth but it seems to be a more living/breathing, active portion of a Web site vs something a bit more static as an FAQ section, I could be wrong though.

Dec 16, 2014 11:10 am
 Posted by  EvanWing

I love the evolution of the keyword search! My questions definitely do not get answered as well if I leave the meat and potatos of a sentence out of my question. I'm always shocked at no matter how specific my question is, someone out there has answered it. From changing a headlight on my truck to the benefits of buying local, the answers are out there.

Nice article, Spence. Have really enjoyed reading your blog these past few months. Keep up the good work.

Dec 16, 2014 03:21 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Terrific article! People are smarter today, and they want to do business with those companies that they can feel good about. I have read several articles by Spencer, and his words always make me think simply because they ring so true!

Carolyn Alane Tretina

Dec 17, 2014 09:28 am
 Posted by  Spencer X Smith

Great question on the FAQ. Taken literally, the acronym FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions, right? Answering commonly-asked questions from your customers would be an ideal starting point.

However, FAQ has morphed into more of a super-concise Q&A. What year was your firm founded? 1981. What geographical area do you service? Madison & Dane County. etc.

I'd propose taking those commonly-asked questions and adding some color to them as though you're meeting someone in person at Barriques. If that person asks you, "What price do you charge?" you're typically not going to respond with one sentence. You might say, "It depends, and typically, in a situation like yours we'd consider the following..."

When we write articles for our website, pretending like we're having a conversation allows our customers and potential customers to learn from us. Instead of just offering lifeless data, we can help the readers educate themselves by way of your expertise. Consider answering questions on your site with articles of at least 300 words. That's akin to a 2-3 minute conversation, and your readers (as well as Google and the other search engines) will reward you for it.

Hope this helps!

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