Written by Ariad Communications on November 14, 2012
in Content Strategy

Can you suggest any good places to eat?

Of course you can. But you don’t know whether I’m asking for a special occasion, if I’m looking for somewhere quick and cheap to go with the kids, whether I want something formal or more relaxed, or even what kind of food I prefer.

The point is, it’s tough to give me a helpful restaurant recommendation — your content — unless you understand what I want out of my dining experience. The more useful your recommendations are to me, the more I will respect your advice and opinion, and the more likely I am to ask you in future when once again I’m stuck for somewhere to take my wife for her birthday.

Utility may not be the most exciting of the three elements that make up valuable content — quality, format and utility — but it is the element that is most critical to customer engagement.

The kind of utility your content needs will depend on where and when it is being delivered. When your customer needs to transact, for example, utility means functionality: it’s important that forms are clear and work. But earlier in the customer’s journey, when he or she is exploring, considering, learning, utility may be all about education and entertainment.

But, as we’ve described in Content Changes Everything, despite its importance, utility is the element brands seem to struggle with most — creating content customers can actually use.

How can we do that? By remembering how to give a great restaurant recommendation. You first need to find out that the occasion is my wife’s birthday, and we prefer somewhere downtown that’s casual and not too expensive. In other words, you first have to understand what kind of experience I’m trying to achieve.

As marketers, we have to understand what our customers are trying to do, not just the tasks our brand needs them to complete. It is only then that we can set about creating and crafting an experience with content that supports and enables our customers to meet those goals, and that ultimately delivers for our brands.

 

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