In my fantasy meeting, I lean in toward my client and ask, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to make money?” Of course, I’m also having a really good hair day in this fantasy, and there is no lipstick on my teeth, but in real life I still think I’m onto something with this question.
At SUBTXT, we think that if you can’t easily translate a business goal into a user goal, it probably doesn’t belong on your website. Apparently we’re in good company. Erin Kissane, in The Elements of Content Strategy, says, “Fundamentally…’right for the business’ and ‘right for the user’ are the same thing. Without readers, viewers, and listeners, all content is meaningless…” (emphasis ours)
Why Business Goals Must Be User Goals
SUBTXT once had a client who said we needed to arrive at a balance between business goals and user goals. Really? Why? What about arriving at the understanding that your business goals need to be rephrased as user goals or they need to be seriously reconsidered? In fact, doesn’t a business goal require user participation in order for it to be successful?
For example, your business goal could be to “promote the automatic savings program,” but if you just do that, most of your users won’t care, unless they are specifically looking for an automatic account. However, if you rephrase that goal to, “help our clients automatically save money,” you have a business goal that aligns perfectly with the common user goal to “find easy ways to save more money.”
User Goals Inspire Creation
This frame of mind helps your company view yourselves as partners and advisors to your clients, instead of salespeople. Continuing in this mindset, this business goal might inspire you to create an educational series, such as case studies or testimonials that align with this goal. On the other hand, if you stick with the goal of “promoting the automatic savings program,” the mindset is not helpful to users, so it likely won’t inspire the same type of new content.
At SUBTXT, we’re aware that a business can have goals that the customer may not be aware are theirs as well. For example, I didn’t go to the Apple store online looking for Father’s Day gifts, but when I saw their Father’s Day Gift Guide, I wasn’t surprised that it featured some cool options that I happened to be interested in. I was receptive because I know that Apple doesn’t abuse my trust or my time. Also, Apple’s long-standing commitment to clean, quiet, informative design and their technological leadership give them credibility:
Here are three ways to move your digital marketing team from business goals to user goals:
1) Rephrase your goals so they begin with the words, “Find an easy way to…” and end with a real-life task your customers want to—and can—accomplish from your website. For example, “Increase weekly craft project email signups,” becomes, “Find an easy way to learn about new craft ideas that make me a better artist.“
2) When a new business goal is handed to your digital marketing team, ask yourself “Why?” until the word “customer” is the main subject of the answer. So, if your business goal is “Promote the weekly craft project email,” start by asking “Why promote this weekly email?” If the answer is “Because it’s a marketing priority,” keep going. And don’t stop until it sounds like, “So customers can become better artists and think of our company as the place where that happens.”
3) Think of your digital marketing team as a matchmaker. Your company wants something, and your customers do too, so you’re in charge of creating opportunities for those desires to intersect. For example, your company wants to increase email signups and customers want to be better artists. It’s time for you to get creative and think of all the ways your website can make this match.
We aren’t saying that businesses shouldn’t have business goals. Business goals are necessary for motivating teams, engaging shareholders, and measuring performance. What we’re saying is that most business goals just need a mental shift to become user goals. However, if you’ve gone through the above exercises, and your business goals still don’t, can’t, or won’t align with what your customers are looking for (whether they know it or not), they just don’t have a place on your website.