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Great Content Starts with Great Questions: Tips for Asking the Right Ones

Over the years, I’ve had many B2B manufacturing clients want to include what I refer to as “so what?” information on their Websites, blog posts and press releases. This “so what?” information includes seemingly useless facts such as the square footage of the manufacturing plant or that the company has purchased new equipment.

When I get these types of requests, I’ve learned to ask, “Why is this important?” As a content creator, my job is to think like a reporter. The fact that a company spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase new equipment is important – my job is to find out why.

When I take the time to sniff out a story, I’m usually rewarded with lots of insight into the company and its values that I wouldn’t otherwise get – making it much easier to tell its story.

Case in point: MacroAir Technologies (a CMI consulting client) is a family-owned small business in San Bernardino, CA that manufacturers High Volume, Low Speed (HVLS) commercial ceiling fans. Recently, a person from the marketing team asked me to write a blog post about their newly “wrapped” 18-wheel truck (i.e. the truck was covered in MacroAir’s logos, verbiage, etc.).

When I read the email, I almost dismissed it because at first glance there’s no story in a wrapped truck – other than the fact that it looks pretty cool.

Instead, I shot back an email simply to ask why the company had purchased the truck in the first place. The answer? MacroAir purchased it for installing its six-blade HVLS fans for customers who upgraded on their Warranty and Installation package.

Nice, but again, not really that newsworthy.

So I dug a little deeper and asked more questions and hit the jackpot when Jaylin Krell, MacroAir’s Marketing Coordinator, sent me back a detailed reply – most of which you can find in this blog post, “Customer Service: Actions Speak Louder than Words.”

When purchasing MacroAir’s HVLS fans in the past, customers were responsible for installation. Even though MacroAir gave detailed instructions and simplified the process, people still made mistakes. And, if you ordered multiple fans for your warehouse or manufacturing plant, installation translated into huge downtime as well as expense: you have shut off the electricity, hire a forklift, take someone off the job to do the installation, etc.

To solve these problems, MacroAir purchased the truck. Now, someone from the company travels across the country installing fans for customers. The truck is large enough to hold customers’ fan orders, extra fan blades – and even a forklift! Now is that cool or what? (These kinds of stories always get me excited!)

Key takeaways

The mistake many companies make is to post photos or company news without explaining the story. By themselves, the photos of the MacroAir truck have no meaning. Because the photos illustrate the story, however, they now have meaning. If you’re a MacroAir customer, for example, you might read the blog post and think, “Wow! What a great company! They’re making my life easy by coming to my business and installing my fans for me.”

As a content creator, it’s your responsibility to find the news in what is seemingly boring or useless information. To do so, take a few steps back and ask yourself why this information is important – from your customers’ perspective. What do you want them to know about your values? How will that new plant equipment, for example, benefit your customers? Does it allow you to better control quality? Provide faster ship times?

Dig a little deeper for the real news – and then communicate it with a story that will resonate with your customers. You’ll find over time that you’ll naturally attract people who agree with your values and who will want to do business with you.