What do a holiday in Italy, the ID.3 from VW and Buyer Persona have in common?

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What do a holiday in Italy, the ID.3 from VW and Buyer Persona have in common?

August 13, 2020

Susanne Mathony - Buyer Personas

Under COVID19 consulting firms have to differentiate themselves even more than ever. Hence they are in need of truly tailor-made business content.

Two tricks to win on this battleground:

a brand specific tone of voice and buyer persona. In her column, Marketing consultant Susanne Mathony covers the three killer R’s: Reputation, relationships and revenues.

Herbert Diess is currently enjoying his vacation in Italy – with his daughter Caro and an ID.3, the electric vehicle from VW.

How do I know this?

I enjoyed reading his LinkedIn post on August 6. It has already generated 5.500 likes. The 455 comments are consistently positive – which is remarkable considering the increase of hater in the social media. Obviously, the personal branding strategy has worked out!

LinkedIn readers not only wish him a nice holiday, but also ask him in detail about his user experience with the ID.3. Additional positioning platforms such as YouTube videos or road trip reports are offered from Tier 1-media.

The previous week Herbert Diess had already ‘confessed’ on his upcoming vacation in a Pulse article – sending the strong message
A corporation has to be running – even when the boss is not around“.

In short: A modern social CEO and powerful corporate influencer!

Which begs the question:

Why are posts from heads of Professional Services firms often wooden-dry, sometimes even dangerously interchangeable?

The majority of their feeds read almost identically:
Study launches, the start of new partner colleagues or the sponsorship of conferences.
At any rate, none of the German bosses of BCG, Bain, or Kearney seem to be on a summer break currently.

More and more consulting bosses are presenting themselves with selfies and are taking their first steps in modern storytelling. But the majority is not really distinguishable (yet). And this despite the fact that a flood of social media consultants are claiming that they are not only selling posts, but opinion leadership.

This certain ‘facelessness‘ also applies to some studies and viewpoints in the consulting industry. The branding – i.e. logo, colour scheme and typography – reveals the sender. But the tonality? Probably not.
But the brand differentiation should be reflected here as well!

Why?

The fight for market shares has increased massively under COVID19 . Consistent differentiation is more decisive than ever. To further maximize the effect of content marketing – including that of Thought Leadership – is a must.

Unfortunately, it still holds:

Well meant, is not always well done“; i.e.:
Only convincing content converts into meetings, leads and projects. There is a delta between what professional services players produce and what clients and targets are expecting.

Hence there is still the need to catch up and sharpen up to be truly ‘distinctive’.

Four findings from Source Global should be a stimulus

  1. 85% of CXOs deal with business content on a daily basis
  2. 90% of CXOs are willing to invest at least 30 minutes in a Thought Leadership piece – IF the topic is of real interest
  3. 25% contact a consulting firm to discuss their content
  4. and 9% then buy consulting services.

Now you may twitch and think: just under a tenth is unfortunately little!

Nevertheless: It’s worth the effort

For board and advisory board members, Thought Leadership is not only the the tool of choice to keep their finger on the pulse of the times, but also to stay in dialogue with consultants. Strong content keeps the door to clients open.
If done right it is the coveted backstage pass to the early (prioritization) phase in the buying cycle.

The Crux of the matter

The expectation towards content continues to rise. Today’s Corporate leaders are smart buyers with clear, personal views on what works – and what does not. Some of them react almost allergically when they receive irrelevant or unconvincing material.

This allergic detuning of CXOs also correlates with the pure volume that ends up in their inboxes. Source Global speaks of an average of five mails per day from various consultancies. However, CXOs have neither the time nor the inclination to wade through content, but expect smarter timed volume and higher relevance.

Which brings us back to differentiation as the biggest challenge:
Too many platitudes, too much ‘me too’. Too few specific points of view and clear derivations and suggestions as to what companies should implement in practice and how.

The three killer R’s: Reputation, Relationships and Revenues

Hence the overall questions always are:

  • Does your content work in your marketing value chain?
  • Does it influence your reputation?
  • And does it create relationships and help you win projects?

If it is rather diffuse who your target audience actually is and what benefit your study or LinkedIn post creates, decision makers might not read it. You might risk burning your Marketing budget.

Find the niche that competitors have not yet commented to death and convince with real insights. Ideally with your very individual ‘tone of voice‘. Present yourself a little less operative, but more individual and ‘approachable as a human being’.
What is also helpful:
Flank your corporate brand with individual consultants. Chose (and train) those ‘brand ambassadors’ carefully and give them the freedom to express their (business) personality and their personal views in your corporate content.

Make your content click!

Especially in times of a crisis like currently under COVID19, targets want to establish an emotional connection to brands. They expect content that appeals to them directly – in both senses of the word.
Hence marketers need to exactly know their target groups and have a deep understanding on how to make their content click.

This is where the so-called ‘tone of voice’ comes into play. The way you communicate with your audience determines almost everything. Not only how engaged your clients are reading your texts, but also whether they chose to interact with you. Your ‘tone of voice’ conveys everything that your brand and your clients value. It also reflects how your target group has come to know and appreciate you in everyday project work.

Currently the highest ‘noise’ is in the online marketing channels including social media. If your really want to stand out and attract attention, it is not enough to ‘just join in’. A highly useful concept: Create your buyer persona.

What is a persona?
Oversimplifying: The combination of attributes or qualities that make up your distinct brand personality – i.e. a unique voice, tone, character and approach. Your audience or followers need to understand who you are and what you stand for.

Nobody wants to communicate with a logo, but only with real people!

Define as a first step your ‘buyer personas’ before you write your next study or LinkedIn Pulse article. Unlike abstract, heterogeneous target groups, a buyer persona has a concrete ‘face’. It is the fictitious persona that represents your typical client. This concept makes it a lot easier for you to better understand their needs, challenges and actions. This way you can perfectly tailor your content. With a buyer persona in mind, you don’t just write your content, you write it for someone.

Which leads to the final question – especially in the field of social media: Ghostwriter or no ghostwriter?

Based on experience I would like to suggest: Both!

In these days, all professional services players have – either in-house or in their agencies – social media specialists who ‘feed their feeds’. After all, consulting bosses have more important things to do than write their own posts 20 minutes a day.

This outsourcing is completely legitimate. But it requires four things to be truly successful and sustainable:

  1. True commitment to the chosen Marketing channel
  2. Clear definition of topics that go beyond mere announcement communication
  3. Continuous input of own ideas
  4. Specification of the personal style.

Please dont get me wrong:

No consulting boss should expose herself/himself in a home story. BUNTE and Gala are for B celebrities only.

But content can still be a little more personal. And when you cleverly advertise your products – like Herbert Diess did for his electric vehicle – no one takes it badly.

view Consulting.de article (in German)