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Where pleasure meets pain (it’s not what you think) (Rise #6)

where pleasure meets pain (rise #6)

Pain is at the heart of good content. No, it’s not because we’re masochists — it’s because we understand that humans are programmed to avoid or resolve pain as fast as possible.

Think about the pain of moldy closets or the stress of rising living costs. You would pay good money to figure out how to avoid that pain in the future.

That’s why helpful content is so important: it offers value.

Who do you write for?

As content marketers, we’re constantly putting ourselves in the shoes of our clients and our clients’ clients. We try to understand their pain points and what makes them tick. And I’ll tell you, sometimes it ain’t easy.

Some client solutions’ target market is high-level executives in niche technology companies. How can I — a mere mortal — put myself in the shoes of a board director?

It’s simple, really: just remember they’re human.

This is something that I try to keep in mind whenever I’m faced with a highly technical and niche product, which is almost always the case in B2B marketing.

No matter how intimidating or complex their industry might be, our target market is fueled by the same human instincts as us, whether those be a need for love and acceptance or success and survival.

Let’s say I need to promote a governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) solution that helps boards stay out of trouble with various governing bodies. The first step (after identifying your content’s goals) is usually to learn more about the people you’re writing for.

  • Who are they?
  • What topics interest them?
  • What are their biggest pain points?

There are tons of interviews, sentiment reports, and surveys online that can help paint a clearer picture of the target market. Interviews with sales and product teams or social listening through LinkedIn or other social media platforms are also useful.

The 5 Whys

A helpful framework to get to the core of their problems is the 5 Whys method, which helps you delve deeper into their issues by continuously asking why. For example:

Why do board directors need a GRC solution?
Because one of their primary roles is to manage risk.

Why is managing risk so difficult?
Because risks and regulations are always changing.

Why does this matter?
Because boards are under pressure to manage different priorities that are difficult to align.

And so on.

You don’t have to hit or stop at 5 whys. You just need to go deep enough to understand your target audience better.

Then, the pain comes in.

Understanding pain

For content to be valuable, you need to identify the varying levels of pain your target audience experiences. There are three levels:

  • Issues. Surface-level problems you can easily identify because they are obvious or occur frequently.
  • Impact. Consequential effects of surface-level problems that threaten business success.
  • Implications. Adverse personal implications that may threaten your status quo or cause you to lose something precious.

Still using the GRC solution as an example, the three levels of pain for board directors could be:

  • Surface issue. Difficulty complying with constantly changing regulations.

  • Negative business impact. Penalties for non-compliance, which could affect business success.
  • Adverse personal implication. Reputational damage, which may threaten their position on the board and make them lose face.

When doing these exercises, it’s important to understand the contextual constraints of your audience. How might they resist the solution?

For example, they could be more resistant to adopting new technologies. Or perhaps they have a corporate culture that lacks transparency.

From there, you can come up with several interesting (at least, to your target audience) topics.

Let’s raise the bar of content marketing in Southeast Asia

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Thanks for reading!


with help from Katrina

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Nikki Natividad

Nikki has been writing professionally for over 6 years. Starting off doing event coverages and lifestyle PRs, she’s somehow found herself penning fintech and cryptocurrency pieces along the way. Now she’s doing all that as the content strategist for With Content.