What’s the number one way to develop killer marketing materials? How do you make your case studies and white papers sticky?

Talk to your clients.

One of the first questions I ask when I’m talking to new copywriting clients is, “Who is your ideal client?” And I don’t just mean the basic stats, like occupation and industry. These are valuable pieces of information, but they don’t tell me what I really need to know. I need to know what’s keeping the ideal customer up at night. So I ask:

  • Is your ideal customer male or female? (This is very important in the B2B world, where some industries tend to have more male decision makers purchasing software or, increasingly, software as a service or cloud computing services.)
  • What is their temperament? Are they teachable, or do they tend to resist change?
  • What is their age? Someone in Gen X will have a completely different outlook than a Baby Boomer or Millennial.
  • What do they do outside of work?
  • What problems are they facing?
These are just a few of the ways I get to know my clients’ customers. When you do the same, talk to your customers and get to know them, you can find ways to solve their problems. 

I talk a lot about the psychology of the middle manager: she is being squeezed from both ends. Her higher-ups want her to do more with less, and her direct reports want to be productive but go home at a reasonable hour. She needs something that can please both, without taking a risk that could result in losing her job. And she, too, wants to go home at a reasonable hour, eat dinner with her family, read bedtime stories to her children, and maybe hit the farmer’s market or the golf course on the weekend. She’s looking for a way to balance that.

When you learn what your decision makers want, not just out of the solution you have but out of life, you’re better able to market to them.

So talk to your customers. Find out what they want. Find out their hobbies, their goals, even what they like to eat. (The lunch meeting is not dead.) Not only will you be better prepared in your sales pitches, you’ll be better prepared to answer the probing questions that a good copywriter, white paper writer, or case study writer will ask at the beginning of a project.