Most communications and marketing consists of statements. So how can content marketers add questions to improve buyers’ understanding of content?
Open-ended, thought-provoking questions make a buyer wonder. As copywriters know, great questions intrigue buyers, trigger their imaginations and pull them towards your viewpoint.
Helping customers imagine a different future – rather than the status quo – is one key to making the challenger sale. The right questions transform audiences from passive listeners into active participants, who lean forward for more.
Why use questions online?
Create online content marketing that’s question-driven, with real questions that real customers are asking, to boost your website’s search-engine results. Research questions people are asking now on Google, where customers’ questions reveal a lot about how they think.
Use questions to intrigue your audience. For example, a white paper titled “[Insert Name of Your New Technology Here]: The What, Why and When” draws readers naturally, especially early on, when they’re just learning about a new technology.
When your audience discovers new information through an interactive experience (such as a Q&A or a web search), the exact same information has much greater emotional impact.
Discovered information is likelier to be recalled. And it’s much likelier to be acted upon. With questions, you can unlock the power of customers discovering information on their own.
What happens when you start with a question?
When you give a speech or presentation, open with a thought-provoking question. Listen closely for audience responses, either by a show of hands or by letting several people address the question before you start to present.
As soon as you ask a question, notice: your audience starts to lean forward. Their involvement grows. To make the most out of your question, reflect their answers back to them – and weave their responses into your message.
Why use rhetorical questions?
The great rhetorical question trumps any statement. In their only Presidential debate, Ronald Reagan challenged President Jimmy Carter and voters with his rhetorical questions:
“Are you better off than you were four years ago? … Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago?”
No one recalls what Carter said that night. But Reagan’s questions resonated with voters, a week before the 1980 election. They made people wonder, and helped him win.
Reagan’s questions were one key to his reputation as a great communicator. Presidential candidates still use his questions, decades later.
Questions – whether designed to elicit a response or to be rhetorical – draw your audience closer to your content marketing. Questions invite the audience to actively fill in the blanks with their own pictures, words and stories. That’s how content marketers can use customer questions to make content even more believable.
Here’s my short video on content marketing for the Business Marketing Association of Chicago.