Do you know who you’re talking to?

Good marketers at most companies know that the content and assets used by the “frontline” staff, those who interact directly with both clients and prospects, should be focused on the specific needs of customers. They work hard to ensure that key elements such as copy, layout, and user experience speak directly and meaningfully to their buyers.

However, they also encounter a number of internal gatekeepers and stakeholders who must review and approve any asset before it can be used by the frontline. Regulatory, compliance, and political concerns commonly have the frustrating effect of diluting or redirecting the power of customer-focused messaging, however well intentioned they are.

So how do good marketers ensure that their frontline assets maintain their focus on customer needs and not the needs of any stakeholders with a voice in how frontline interactions are guided? For new assets, they identify two key components of articulating customer needs and benefits that allow them to flex around the often-conflicting needs of internal stakeholders. For current assets, they conduct a touchpoint audit to measure how well they align to these same components.

8.25 Seconds. It’s all you get.  Make it all you need.

According to research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average human attention span is 8.25 seconds.¹  That’s not much time in which to inform and persuade a potential customer and necessitates that a company have a clear understanding of both the tension its customers are experiencing and how their product/service alleviates that tension. Writing out a statement that articulates a buyer’s tension in the first person is a great starting point that allows you to clarify needs and expand the benefits your product or service supplies.  Using the (obviously) fictional ABC grocery as an example:

“I want to be a good parent and provide better food for my kids, but it’s too expensive and time consuming to purchase and prepare more nutritious meals.”

The tension statement above speaks to some of the core motivations of the customer (wanting to be a good parent), provides some of the key obstacles to be overcome and serves as a stimulus from which a variety of benefits statements can be derived. For example: 

“ABC Grocery provides parents the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they’re providing their kids quality food at manageable prices.”
“With ABC Grocery, parents can now achieve what was before out of reach, great food at a great price”
“ABC Grocery provides great food that’s ready to go, allowing parents to spend their time focusing on more important aspects of their relationships with their kids.”

Using a clear tension statement together with a variety of different potential benefits statements will provide a marketer with the flexibility to develop new frontline assets that can overcome internal gatekeepers while still speaking powerfully to the core needs of their buyer.

Check Yourself  – The Touchpoint Audit

The pairing of a tension statement and benefit statement(s) can also serve to improve the assets that are already in use by the frontline staff. The coaching and scripts used in call centers, the tablet-enabled sales tools used to facilitate face-to-face conversations between reps and customers, the calls-to-action on an e-commerce site should all be directly attributable to a clear understanding of customer needs.

Using tension and benefit statements to audit frontline assets can reveal accidental gaps in messaging from stakeholders. It can help to identify what step of the creative process (copy, design, regulatory review, executive review) were modified to meet the needs of internal stakeholders. Discovering these gaps can set the stage for both internal success with co-workers and external success with customers.