How many times has your company put together a marketing concept, email blast, industry conference or other variable effort in exchange for a few leads just to justify to your sales team that the decision makers weren’t there or better yet the response was dismal?  While you may spend tens of thousands to obtain sales leads, nothing will replace the knowledge of how your customers work in their environment or the relationship you have with them, but how do you get to know them on such a personal level?

For marketers, this means investing quality time talking to customers about their day-to-day activities, goals, and challenges, either by phone or face-to-face. This is not a sales call, nor is it a cleverly masked opportunity to plant seeds of brand promotion. Talk to your customers like you would a friend. Listen and ask pointed questions to learn more about their daily challenges and goals. This will help you establish a clearer vision of the intricate details that compete for their attention and influence their decision making. These conversations will serve as igniter fluid as you brainstorm content ideas.

The next step is going beyond customer interviews get out of the office and spend time with customers on their turf, in their environment.  Witnessing your audience manage challenges and solve problems firsthand is a immersive way to understand who your customer is and idea generating machine for relevant content planning.

For example, I traveled with a film crew to visit Wake County EMS in November 2013.  My crew consisting of Matt Price (DP/ Editor), Tom Bouthillet (Capt. Paramedic & Cardiology Blogger) and myself and our goal was to learn what they were doing to improve cardiac arrest and heart attack survivals rates.  After a few months of planning we knew the main people we wanted to talk to, but we wanted to experience the system from the boots on the ground all the way up to the key opinion leaders.   We had unprecedented access to their system and in the end our customer Physio Control was the one that gained the valuable insight into their customer Wake County EMS.  In an interview with the EMS Medical Director Dr. Brent Myers he made the comment “We just did this day after day and we have never had a chance to reflect on why it was effective medicine”.  For those interested in seeing episodes of this ground breaking web series #CodeSTEMI you can view it here CodeSTEMI Documentary Web Series.

I realized for Physio Control multiple versions of content both short, medium and some long format content would be an effective way to share the content we were able to acquire would  be a much wiser investment in terms of content marketing.

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