Develop topic expertise by hanging out with your Services team
November 20, 2020
This article was written with help from Bill Miksich, Head of Services at Customer.io. Thanks, Bill!
So you studied poetry in college and now you’re generating content for a sophisticated A.I. accounting software brand. Welcome aboard! You’re not alone.
Lots of our clients make amazing SaaS products with brilliant tech – and this can be a source of anxiety for their marketing departments. Many content marketers do not have tech backgrounds and they’re terrified of sounding ignorant.
Good news: content marketers don’t have to enroll in code camp just to talk about their SaaS products in a more effective way. You just need to embrace the resources already at your disposal.
The Services team is a great place to start.
Consult the in-house experts
The Services team deals with customer pain points on a daily basis. They provide technical solutions in an accessible language, and at least part of their day involves comforting anxious clients.
Talk to them. They know how people are using the product. They know what’s frustrating about the product. Use cases and solutions – for content marketers, these are the keys to designing resonant content with more precision.
Be curious – here’s how
Are you worried about your ability to talk tech with buyers or end users of your product at the potential clients? Here’s a fix: connect first with the client’s content marketing team. Yes, the content marketing team! You’ve got common ground on which to build rapport and, more importantly, you speak a common language. Use it to discuss the other team’s customer experience problems and how they’re using content to fill in the CX gaps.
Use your peer network when composing content too. Say your company sells an accounting platform for businesses. If you’re generating a ‘Guide To Better Accounting’ white paper, reach out to content marketers at friendly competitor companies. You’ll be surprised by how willing people are to share their insights and collaborate.
You don’t have to know everything. You just have to be curious. Sincere curiosity can be enough to win people over for an interview. That curiosity can lead to great questions – and putting those questions to use in interviews will help you build confidence.
Use service documents as marketing materials
Content that’s useful for the services team can establish your presence as a reliable expert. Educational tools often make the best marketing assets and your Services team probably has a ton of them already. Services teams collect and generate high-quality content – docs, recipes, technical explainers – to help users work through frustrating elements of the experience.
Let’s say a sales lead has questions about how to get the most out of your product but your content marketing library doesn’t have any Best Practices material. You might wind up referring them to a document on a competitor’s site and that’s never a good look. However, your Services team likely has useful content in this vein since they spend a lot of time onboarding new clients.
Content teams and Services teams can help each other out when it comes to documentation by noting gaps in content libraries and collaborating on new content. Just as marketing team members get self-conscious about their technical knowledge, back-end team members get self-conscious about writing content. Working together, everyone can play to their own strengths.
When your marketing methods just aren’t connecting, there might be an empathy issue. Consulting with other customer-facing departments can help, but sometimes the solution is necessarily personal.
You can access empathy for customers by trying the product on your own. It goes beyond the demo. Really try putting it to work and take note of what you enjoy and what’s frustrating. This also gives you first-person testimonial talking points for future content. People appreciate the voice of experience. (On the flipside, if you’re creating filler content just for the sake of publishing it, your audience is probably going to notice right away.)
Observe how you and your team are talking about the product. It can be tricky to get the distance you need to critically assess yourself in this way. Try recording your conversations with team members and clients alike. A tool like Gong can be really helpful here. Collected transcripts can quickly show the deficiencies in your current marketing language. Why is that? How can your team better integrate these elements?
Yes, you absolutely need to understand what you’re selling. But relax: you don’t have to know everything about a product in order to generate content that is useful, engaging, and authentic.
Play to your own strengths and lean on the knowledgeable folks in your network when you start to feel out of depth. Dig into the educational assets that your company already has – these can be phenomenal marketing tools. And don’t burn yourself out with a crash course on the tech. Instead, spend some of that energy getting familiar with the product in a hands-on way.
As you’re creating content, think about the approach that a services team would use. Services doesn’t sell products, but they do help customers use your product effectively, build confidence in the solution, and think big-picture about what they’re trying to accomplish. Don’t try to drive customers to a particular outcome or a way of thinking, but do set the foundation for successful work.
Customer.io is a lifecycle messaging platform that takes real-time data from your app and gives your product and marketing teams the messaging tools they need to create automated experiences. Customer.io serves over 1,700 customers in SaaS, finTech, IoT, EdTech, and subscription businesses.