::by Michael Penner
Some products or services sell themselves. Their critical role in solving a problem is obvious, as is the means for procuring the solution. The audience is likely familiar with similar solutions and needs little education to understand the value these solutions bring. However, new and unusual offerings, which do things very differently or are considered disruptive, require more educational content to reveal where the value lies.
When your product or service has to be vetted by a C-class audience (the “C” stands for Chief), such as a manager, director, VP, or CEO, before procurement is allowed, your website’s content must cater to several audiences. The audiences are the people in the organization that will use or benefit in some way directly from your offer, their managers, and their manager’s boss.
Since the technology sector is where I’ve lived all my life, I’ll stick with technology examples. Let’s imagine I’ve built a software system for procuring expensive parts in a bottling plant. Oracle® has such software, but let’s say I’ve figured out a completely different way to do things that is easier to use, less prone to human error, allows for customization Oracle doesn’t allow, and is less expensive. It would seem I’ve just written some of the core value proposition with that last sentence, and indeed it is a good start. But a lot more is needed.
My web copy needs to convince the Procurement Agent first. After all, they are the ones that will use the software every day. My goal is to grab interest to the point where they ask for a demo. After building my audience profile, I realize there are some non-technical issues to address before I can hope to provide a demo with this agent. My profile tells me that people in this job spend years learning how to work effectively with the quirks and limitations of their current software. Getting them to entertain a change of this magnitude requires convincing them it won’t make their lives more difficult, either through a transition to the new software or a hard cut-over. Going further, I need to leave them with the perception that by not at least investigating my offer, they risk missing out on improvements to their quality of work life. In other words, there may be a small amount of pain as we transition from the old to the new, but it will be short-lived and very much worth the effort.
The demo goes well, and the Procurement Agent is impressed. Now, the agent’s boss gets involved. This can be a high-level executive or a mid-level manager. In either case, the agent’s enthusiasm is critical to getting the boss to care. They trust the agent more than me.
The C-Class is more focused on budget, impacts on operations, and employee morale. The specifics of how a part on the assembly line alerts the plant manager it needs replacing, and then how my software might do that, is only interesting to upper management at a surface level. The details of that process are very interesting to the Procurement Agent, but for management, it’s all about Return On Investment (and happy Procurement Agents). When they visit my website, there should be copy and imagery less focused on technical aspects and more focused on business benefits. The copy should use language and key phrases that connect with the C-Class audience. It should also include enough educational matter to clarify the concepts my research has found can be confusing.
Leading your audience to value is what good web copy does. Understanding what different audiences value is the key.