The best kind of marketing writing helps readers solve problems…it says, “how can I help you?” But what if you’re not quite sure what your customers’ problems are…or what they would dream up if they could describe their ideal product?
Some of these answers you know just from being in business. But here’s a couple more resources you can explore:
1. Google Adwords as a general marketing tool
Google Adwords usually is used by people doing keyword research for search engine optimization (SEO), but it can also help you with everything from writing brochure copy to brainstorming new products to bring to market. Type in some keywords and instantly know how many people are searching for your ideas. Is it a million a month, or just a couple hundred? Google also gives you keyword suggestions, which can open up whole new avenues for customer research. This is instant insight.
2. Forum research
Forums are a focused resource to discover customer questions. I’m doing freelance writing for a health website, and I checked out the conversations on some health forums. I got excellent ideas about what customers were worried about and how the website could address their concerns.
Check out forums in your industry, or try the big, general ones: Yahoo Answers, Ask.com, Answers.com. You can also find forum answers by putting yourself into potential customers’ shoes, guessing what questions they’d ask, and typing them into a search engine to see where you end up.
3. Blog research
There’s a blog for everything (I just learned there were about 60 blogs just devoted to the store Anthropologie). Look for the blogs your customers read. If you don’t know what those are, try Google Blog Search. Make sure you’re focusing on potential customers’ blogs — not competitors. If you’re a designer, don’t look at other designer blogs, look at the business blogs that target boutique owners. If you’re a health professional, look at blogs of people who are dealing with conditions you want to address.
4. Personal research
Ask you own questions online (on blogs, LinkedIn groups, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or in person. I once got about 100 responses for a food client by asking a question on a parenting board: “What do you make for dinner at night that’s easy and that your kids love?” To find out about the restaurant scene in a Chicago suburb, I called a friend, who gave me a quick lay of the land. This kind of on-the-ground and specific insight is valuable, and free!
So take a quick walk before you write. What are some resources you use to find out what your customers are thinking?