Brad’s thought exercise developing the self-assessment tool was: What’s true about these people? What do I need to tell them at this phase versus that phase? (btw, what a great way to pull your user journeys out of your brain for content organization.)
Brad spends all day every day thinking about agency growth. Meanwhile his clients, agency leaders, might spend a few minutes a day thinking about it. They’re in a completely different headspace.
On the call, he continued to say that the instinct is to show that we know how to solve a problem, that we have the deep insights. Clients though (read: your audience) are just looking for some signals you understand their problems, so they know you can point them in the right direction, so they can make incremental progress.
I’ve been thinking about the call for a few weeks now.
As experts in progress, we lean out over the edge of thinking about solutions, going as deep as we know how. In the madness of it, we get away from what is relevant to an audience right now: progress on a desired outcome.
At any given moment, audiences exist in these little (or big) problem spaces.
A user’s attention cycles through thinking about different pointy problems they brush up against, and occasionally, big desired outcomes. It’s an array of problem spaces, a twisted up slinky of a Venn diagram of problems with the user in the middle.
Luckily our minds are linear and unable to focus on all the problems at once, so we might only see one or two circles’ edges at a time.
The pain of most problems are often absent or dull, but like an old injury, something irritates it, and if it gets bad enough, you start losing sleep.
The experience might be neck pain. The agitator is constantly hunching over a computer. The problem is hip flexor and lower back tightness. And the solution is core strength and hip flexor exercises. But I just care about my neck pain. And I’ll ignore it until it affects my sleep for more than a few days.
As users, we occasionally get relief, find intermittent solutions, but then we revert to a baseline, that is, we continue to bump into more problems.
I don’t mean for that to sound dark; it’s meant to be a useful heuristic for bringing our attention back to the problems that have our audience’s attention.
If I’m worried about neck pain, I’m going to put a heating pad on it, not read an article about hip flexor exercises when I don’t really even know what hip flexors are.
Bridging the expert-audience divide
At the end of the call, I asked Brad if he had anymore suggestions for reeling it in. He said:
- If prospect can see that you understand the problem, they assume you can fix it. You just want to show them that you understand them.
- Focus on the questions of what people are asking you, remember what it was like when you didn’t know what you know now.
- If you don’t get enough questions, go out to the watering holes and see what people are asking.
This is how I think about search. There are 3.5 billion searches a day.
For your corner of the world, the aggregate of questions people are asking – and every search can be framed as a question – for which you have an answer is a firehose of data about what your users are concerned with right now.
Analyzing search intent helps bring us back to that reality.
You want to help your audience transform. You seek to elevate a client’s status to the peak of their desired outcome.
But today, they are focused on reworking their twitter bio. And so they run a Google search, “how to write a twitter bio.” You see that you are getting traffic for related terms on a “best twitter bios” post.
For you, the easy thing to do is to turn your nose up at that. Go back to focusing on deep insights.
If you instead you asked: what is true about these people right now? Where is their mind? you could better bridge that divide.
The user needs help with their… twitter bio?
That agitation is like the neck pain from your hip flexors being too tight.
The underlying intent of those users is wanting to portray themselves effectively and appropriately in public.
The underlying issue? Maybe its a communication problem, a positioning problem, a confidence problem, or maybe they just want to be done with it.
Go deeper and it’s because they don’t know themselves. At least not in that context.
But you can’t write a post on how to know yourself to solve for people looking for twitter bio help.
Google won’t get it. Even if Google connects those 5 dots, the user certainly won’t get it so they aren’t clicking that result. They aren’t ready.
They just want their to do list to show
new twitter bio done for the day.