Wearing the Client's Shoes

How Content Creators Wear Their Client’s (& their Client’s Clients’) Shoes

Content creators and content marketers are bound by the content they create. Makes sense, right?

The style, method and process of creating content online all have a large say in the eventual message that content delivers. The simple fact of the matter, however, is that if no one is listening to that message, then your content is mostly useless.

What’s that old story about a tree falling in the forest? I wasn’t listening.

(If you’re creating content strictly for yourself, then you may not care about what people think. If this were true though, then you probably wouldn’t be publishing content on the web.)

As copywriters, bloggers and content creators we know that we’re crafting our work to elicit a positive reaction in our audience. Your audience and/or clients exist in several levels. You’re rarely writing for just one level of client. The problem I’m seeing these days is that too many content creators are missing crucial introductory levels of client flow, skipping levels in the middle or leaving an entire branch of their client hierarchy flinging around in the wind like so much…branch…flinging.

Level 1: Your Clients

Writing for your clients is the essence of copywriting. I assume a similar statement could be made of graphic designers, web developers and other content creators. If you’re blogging, replace ‘client’ with ‘audience’. Same principle. The best copywriters on Earth have an in-depth interview process just to get an initial feel and understanding of the company hiring them.

Ask Your Clients:

1. What’s unique about your company?
2. Who are your competitors?
3. Describe your target market (more on this in a bit).

This level of client is paying the bills, so it’s ultimately up to them whether or not your work gets published.

It’s your primary responsibility as a content creator to craft your work to suit the needs of the client signing the checks. So, who does your client work for?

Level 2: Your Client’s Clients

Client Needs

Your client is investing in content marketing because they want to create more revenue for their company. They want to demonstrate real benefits to people who may purchase their services or products. Therefore, your content needs to suit your client’s needs by suiting the needs of their clients.

(Want to know exactly what real benefits are? Check out this classic from Copyblogger: Now Featuring Benefits! Still cracks me up every time.)

Let’s look at an example: client X sells handmade wallets to teenage girls on Etsy. Perhaps in your initial interviews with client X you un-earthed a stern, by-the-book corporate business type with an intelligent content marketing plan. Are you going to craft your message based on this character-type?

Not if you want them to hire you again. This is an over-simplified example; sometimes you get crossover with your clients and their clients, and it’s up to you to effectively communicate when it comes time to choose tone, visual identities and creative methods. The CEO of the aforementioned Serious Guy’s Not-So-Serious Teenage Wallet Companywould most likely understand the need to construct a content plan based on his clients. Sometimes it isn’t so black and white.

Level 3: Your Client’s Clients’ Clients

Does the word ‘clients’ still have any meaning to you? Me neither. Chalk up some mad SEO points.

Level 3 is a little more broad – clients, employees, contractors or peers make up the bulk of this little section of hell Dairy Queen the internet. Considering the needs of your client’s clients’ clients is where you really get to flex your creative content muscles. The reality of B2B client work is that you’re often going to work with people who are dealing with helping their own clients deal with their respective clients.

(For aother (expert) take on B2B blogging, check out Ruth Zive’s infographic/roadmap over at MarketingWise.

Confused yet? Okay, let’s look at it this way: say you’re a blogger writing for an online business management software company called Online Business Corp. Think of the client flow:

Level 1. You write a blog post for Online Business Corp.
Level 2. Office managers read Online Business Corp’s blog post and buy the software.
Level 3. Staff working for that office manager use the software, share the software (which contributes to your SEO rankings), and come back for more.

That’s 3 client layers content creators’ work needs to filter through; hopefully over and over again. If your content’s targeting crosshairs are off at any of the layers, then at some point your work won’t be appreciated properly – or worse; not appreciated at all.

Guess what happens in that case? If you guessed that the money trucks backing up to your house suddenly turn around and find another content creator to appreciate – you’re correct.

Content Creators Need to Respect Client Flow

There’s no quick and easy answer to understand your project’s client flow other than to communicate and ask as many questions as possible. It’s handy when your clients (level 1) understand the need to create content based on their clients (level 2), and it’s handier still when those clients (still level 2) receive content that they can share with their clients, employees or peers (level 3).

Understanding the magic of client flow will help you better understand just who exactly it is you’re creating content for and therefore assist you in crafting the right message. Dig deep content creators and take the time to construct a client path, and the content you create will be a lot more likely to communicate properly to the intended level.

Does anyone have a unique client flow story they’d like to share?

Featured Image:photo credit: practicalowl via photopin cc

Inset:photo credit: jted via photopin cc

Comments (3)

  1. Our firm is considering hiring a company to help with SEO. While I recognize the value in this, I have some concerns. It was mentioned to me that this company will potentially be blogging for us. We have scheduled a conference call with this group this week and I’m wondering if you have any suggestions as to what questions we should be asking of them. My concern is their ability to create content that speaks to our very specific industry and our clients. And their shoes. Lol
    Great read btw bud.

  2. Great post! And thanks for referencing our info graphic. A few thoughts:

    * Any content marketing initiative should be anchored with a thoughtful and comprehensive strategic plan. To Brandon’s point, rarely do we just start blogging for a client without first doing a thorough assessment of their brand, their messaging, their corporate voice, their target stakeholders and their client pain points. Otherwise, content marketing will be much like shooting bullets into the air.

    * We don’t just examine client challenges – we consider ALL stakeholder groups. You allude to this in your post – partners, employees, consultants, clients’ clients…these groups all require pointed messaging, at the right time of the sales cycle.

    * We try to map the marketing strategy to the buying process so that prospective customers have access to the RIGHT content at the RIGHT time of engagement.

    All in all, a great post with some really important information!
    Ruth Zive recently posted..4 Reasons Why Your Website MUST be Responsive to MobileMy Profile

  3. Thanks for commenting Brandon and Ruth!

    Brandon, Ruth nails it here – she’s talking about all the work that SEO agencies, content marketers and bloggers should be doing BEFORE they actually do any work you. They’re the ones who should be asking the majority of the questions. Without a comprehensive interview on both sides, projects are doomed to miss the mark.

    The ultimate question you could ask them, however, is how will their work fit into your business plan? What’s the point?

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