In my previous article for CareerWise, I talked about making your customer the protagonist of your brand’s story to position you as a mentor or a guide. We start down this path by identifying and talking about what your customers want using their language, not yours.
Once you know what your customers want, the next step in creating a story-based message is to identify the obstacles that get in the way.
There are always obstacles in our path
To identify the obstacles or problems your customers struggle with, it helps to think of an obstacle course. Customers want to get to the finish line, but there are obstacles they must overcome to get there.
Your clients’ journey with you is no different. A resume is an obstacle on the obstacle course. When they reach this obstacle, your message serves as a way to show them you are the person who can help them get over the hurdle. You are the coach, trainer, mentor or guide who will help them make it to the finish line.
The two types of obstacles our customers face
Your customer faces two types of obstacles when trying to get what they want. The first is a physical obstacle like you would encounter in an obstacle course. Physical obstacles are visible and known to your customer. They can see them as you can see an obstacle on a course.
Physical obstacles include things such as:
- A lack of knowledge
- A lack of skills
- A goal set for themselves or one established by others
- A resume that will not get past the ATS
These physical obstacles get in the way and surpassing them usually requires a skill your customers don’t have. If they did, they would merely overcome these obstacles themselves.
Potential customers also face emotional obstacles. Emotional obstacles exist in our mind. They are the manifestation of physical barriers.
Examples of emotional obstacles include feeling:
- Overwhelmed – Where do I start?
- Frustrated – Why is writing my resume so challenging?
- Self-doubt – I’m not sure I’m doing this right?
It is essential to understand the emotions of your clients because emotions drive our buying decisions.
Our obstacles work together
As a career practitioner working in private practice or non-profits, to capture your customer’s attention you must talk about the obstacles they face in your copywriting and articles. When you stop talking about obstacles, customers stop listening.
This includes physical and emotional obstacles. If you only talk about the physical obstacles in your customer’s way, you miss out on the opportunity to connect with them on an emotional level; if you only discuss emotions, your message could be taken out of context.
- Obstacle only: Your resume is not getting past the ATS (applicant tracking system).
- Emotion only: You are frustrated because your resume continues getting rejected by companies.
- Combined: It appears your resume is not getting past the ATS and into the hands of the hiring manager, which is frustrating because this leads to rejections by companies.
Individually, each obstacle will be interpreted based on individual experiences. However, when you put the two together, you get much closer to the viewpoint of your customer.
The start of a story-based message
Read the next few sentences as if you were a potential customer for your business:
“Many of my clients are looking for a new job. Some want a promotion. Others want to get away from a bad boss. Unfortunately, their resume is not getting past the Applicant Tracking System, which is frustrating because this leads to unnecessary rejections by companies.”
When your copy or articles discuss what your customers want, the obstacles in their way and the emotions they experience, as this example does, you have the start of your new story-based message.
In next month’s article, I’ll discuss how to use this new message to position yourself as THE person or business who can help your customers overcome their obstacles and achieve their goals.