B2B buyers are people with dreams and aspirations. Hit on those aspirations in your content to … [+]
It’s Monday afternoon. Dana, the CEO of a small but growing consultancy, is settling in for a time-blocked session to figure out which social media management tool to choose. She’s just hired a social media intern and wants to set him up for success.
Dana has already completed her preliminary research and narrowed her focus to Buffer, Hootsuite, and SocialPilot. She visits each site in turn.
Hootsuite’s home page copy speaks of ease, growth, and one-tab convenience: Social media management, but make it easy. Watch your social media stats skyrocket without breaking a sweat. Hootsuite brings scheduling, engagement, planning, and analytics to one tab.
Buffer’s home page leans on audience growth. It also speaks of values and sneaks in the characterizing keyword “ambitious,” which helps people relate and think, “Yes, that’s me:” Grow your audience on social and beyond. Buffer helps you build an audience organically. We’re a values-driven company that provides affordable, intuitive marketing tools for ambitious people and teams.
SocialPilot’s page talks about hitting goals and feature completeness: Everything you need to hit your Social Media Marketing Goals. Powerful Publishing. Seamless Collaboration. Insightful Analytics. Smart AI Assistant.
All else being equal — including price, flexibility, product quality, and ease of use — which would you choose? Which vendor most resonates with you?
Buffer’s copy draws me in most. It shies away from features and functions and focuses on what I want — growth. It also tugs at a need within me that says, “Yes, I want to consider myself an ambitious person” or “Yes, I am ambitious.”
Buffer’s method is what this article is about — aspirational content.
Use aspirational content to differentiate your brand in a sea of sameness.
Much content marketing, especially in B2B, emphasizes problem-solving and pain points. This approach leans on the logic that businesses want solutions to specific problems, and content that addresses those problems can engage potential customers.
But if your content focuses solely on pain points, you may overlook a crucial side of the customer journey — the aspirational side. Aspirational content aligns with the buyer’s vision of success, progress, and the ideal state they want after overcoming challenges. This type of content can be potent because it goes beyond the buyer’s immediate problems to their long-term goals and ambitions.
Aspirational content also aligns with Bain & Company’s B2B Elements of Value. Bain research turned up 40 elements of value for B2B buyers and placed those elements in a hierarchy. Not surprisingly, aspects like pricing, specifications, and features — what marketers tend to focus on in their content — sit at the bottom of the pyramid.
Bain & Company discovered that features, funtions, and price sit at the bottom of a buyer’s … [+]
Used with permission from Bain & Company
But look at what’s on top: Personal touchpoints, like the ability to expand a network, boost a reputation, and vision and hope.
In my mind, hope is a lesser version of aspiration. Hope is a more general desire for something to happen or be true. It’s often based on external circumstances and can be passive. For example, you might hope for good weather or to win the lottery. Hope is a sense of optimism or a wish for a positive outcome, regardless of your efforts to make it happen.
Aspiration is more specific and active. It involves a strong desire to achieve personal goals or ambitions. Aspirations link to efforts and actions, for example, aspiring to be a successful author or running a marathon. It implies a set of steps or plans to achieve a specific goal.
Hopes are often nebulous things we want to happen TO us. Aspirations are things we take steps … [+]
In the sense of B2B content, aspiration is a better word. Business owners and marketers don’t “hope” to solve business problems. If all they did was hope, they might be out of a job. Instead, they aspire, and their aspirations sit on the other side of the sale — on the other side of the pain.
This gap between pain and pleasure is an opportunity for you. Adding more aspirational content into your mix allows you to differentiate yourself and paint a more holistic vision in the buyer’s mind. Aspirational content inspires and motivates, giving buyers a vision of what’s possible.
Your observation aligns with the evolving landscape of content marketing, where there’s a shift towards more balanced and comprehensive approaches that cater to the full spectrum of the buyer’s journey, from recognizing a problem to envisioning a better future.
Being a curious person and word nerd, I looked up the definition of the verb aspire. It comes from the Latin ad spirare, which means to breathe.
What do your buyers aspire to? What do they long for? What do they metaphorically pant after?
Notice how one of its meanings is to pant. I would go further and say to pant after.
So when your prospects aspire to be, have, or do something, you might say they energetically pant after it.
I love little word treasures like that.
In this article, I’ll share a few examples of aspirational content and three ways you can tap into your prospects’ aspirations.
Ready? Let’s go.
To illustrate how you can use aspirational content, let’s look at three examples. These cases show how different brands tap into customer aspirations, creating a powerful connection beyond resolving immediate pains.
Verizon’s Small Business Digital Ready home page is an excellent example of aspirational content.
In partnership with Next Street and Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready program gives under-resourced small businesses the tools they need to grow and thrive in the digital economy. Small business owners who register on the platform get free, personalized access to online courses, mentorship opportunities with industry experts, peer networking events, 1:1 expert coaching, and incentives, such as grant funding opportunities.
The text on the program’s home page illustrates that Verizon sees who its prospects are and what they aspire to be, do, and have — not just to sell phone services.
Look at the heading – that’s what Verizon is “selling.”
The home page of Verizon’s Small Business Digital Ready program leads with an aspiration: Big … [+]
Used with permission from Verizon
They’re selling “big opportunities.”
Are you looking for big opportunities?
Many years ago, I discovered a fabulous example of aspirational copy on the home page of a private school. The page at the time had a photo of a smiling, young child and three words only:
Number cruncher. Diplomat. Explorer.
As a parent, that copy spoke to me hard, as it was supposed to do.
The marketer who chose those words understood my aspirations for my children.
I wanted them to succeed, whether as an accountant, a diplomat, or an explorer.
Sadly, the page now says, “Discover brilliance.” For this article, I looked at the home pages of at least 20 private and public schools, hoping to find a recent example of aspirational copy to share with you, but I could not find one.
If you market for schools, take note.
Marketing for a school? Try aspirational copy to differentiate yourself and attract prospective … [+]
PictoClub sells bespoke and original artwork to the trades and to “unconventional collectors.” You can find and commission paintings, photographs, sculptures, and even books on its website.
There’s nothing like being out in the open about what you’re after.
Now, let’s look at three ways you can tap into the aspirations of your prospects in your content.
One fundamental way to tap into your prospects’ aspirations is to ask what stories they tell themselves.
Understand the story that’s going on in their minds right now, and then reflect what you see back to them.
What or how do they think of themselves? How do your prospects want the world to see them?
Me, I like to think I’m a rebel. So when I discovered a company called Big Ass Fans, I fell in love.
A Big Ass Fans’ Powerfoil X4 ceiling fan displayed at the Heat Solution Expo in Tokyo, Japan, on … [+]
© 2023 Bloomberg Finance LP
It’s a name that likely turns a lot of people off. But me? I love it. It’s a bit irreverent but honest and authentic. They sell big ass fans.
I’m a fan of Big Ass Fans, and I’ve never even purchased one. But I love the idea and want to buy from them someday.
I also tell people about the company even though I haven’t yet purchased from them — just as I’m telling you right now.
Another company that connects with the rebel in me is Velocity Partners, a content marketing agency out of London.
I love how their ebooks break the rules of ebook design, for example, with this struck-through heading.
Who strikes through a heading? A bold content marketing agency that creates ebooks the way I aspire … [+]
And the cuss words.
Using a cuss word attracts people who like to think of themselves as rebels.
Elements like those are why I like the brand. I aspire to be like them. I like the things they think and share.
Another way to think about the aspirations of your perfect potential customer is to ask yourself what change you seek to help them make.
What do you want customers to say about themselves before and after purchasing? Work through the before and after for beliefs, states of being, statuses, feelings, and mindsets.
Here’s a handy chart that explains better than words.
One way to unlock the aspirations of your customers is to ask yourself where they were before they … [+]
Here’s an example using different before and after states.
This chart shows customer aspirations in the “to what” column. Where were your customers before they … [+]
Another way to tap into aspirations is to highlight real-life examples of customers who’ve achieved their aspirations thanks to your product or service. This approach validates that your offerings work and inspires your audience.
When writing the story, do so in a way that lets the customer’s transformation unfold.
What’s the customer’s before state? Open with a story of the customer’s day in the life before you came along. What was life like before they searched for a solution? Be detailed. Select just a few specific moments. Include quotes so the customer can speak for themself.
What ultimately triggered the search for help? What were their aspirations? Where did the customer look for help? Why did they choose you over others? Include quotes.
How did the help unfold? Was there an implementation process or a discovery workshop? What was it like for the customer? Include quotes.
What’s the customer’s life like now? Finally, finish by painting a picture of a day in the customer’s life afterward. Be detailed. Use quotes. Most importantly, show how your company helped the customer achieve their aspirations.
Paint possibilities for your prospects to align with and tap into their aspirations
Remember Dana, our CEO from the opening story? If I were Dana, and each social media management tool had the same features, functions, and pricing, I’d have been won over by how the tool helped me see my future success. And that’s the essence of aspirational content — painting possibilities.
As you craft your next piece of content, ask yourself: Does it help my audience envision a brighter future? Does it speak to their deeper desires and ambitions? If the answer is yes, congratulations. You’ve moved beyond selling a product or service to selling a dream — which is what your prospect is really buying.
As Threads continues to gain momentum, with the platform now up to 130 million active users, more brands are also testing the waters, and seeing what sort of engagement they can drive in the new app. Which, honestly, is probably not a lot for most businesses as yet. The Threads community still feels pretty sparse,...
Traffic is great, but it’s optimizing your conversion rate that’ll grow your business. This list of conversion rate optimization statistics will help you benchmark your current results and give you data-backed strategies to get more conversions from every campaign. Table of contents What is conversion rate optimization? Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a data-driven approach...