Understanding your customer's pain points is the cornerstone of a good content strategy.
All web content should be useful to someone, and content can’t be useful unless it addresses a genuine need for a specific audience. In B2B, that generally takes the form of a business problem that has to be addressed: That is, a customer pain point.
Buyers express their pain points in terms of the search queries they type in.
Make no mistake about it, a Google search is a cry for relief. It usually means someone has just become aware of a problem – or a problem they’ve known about has just blown up into something that needs to be dealt with urgently.
Either way, something has usually been bubbling beneath the surface before that first search.
Business buyers are perennially aware of certain pain points, and they’re usually open to the possibility that a new solution will help them achieve better results. When pain points burst into their awareness as pressing problems, however, a major threshold has been crossed.
These are the buyers most likely to become avid, invested leads.
The question is: How do you know your customer pain points in advance?
Let’s look at the best ways to track, monitor, and learn customer pain points.
5 Ways to Find (and Really Understand) Customer Pain Points
1. Start With What You Know
If you’ve been working in an industry for a while, pain points aren’t a complete mystery.
Marketing teams should always start with what they already know – and codify that knowledge in the form of buyer personas. Buyer personas, also called customer avatars, are used by your team to consolidate information about a certain kind of ideal buyer for your product.
A basic buyer persona needs three key pieces of information:
- Who your buyer is (industry, job title, location, interests, the works!).
- What kind of problems you already know your prospective buyer has.
- How, exactly, your buyer will use your products to solve the problems.
A buyer persona won’t help you find new customer pain points, but it equips you to validate assumptions over time. It’ll also be easier to notice shifts in purchasing patterns that suggest new pain points are coming to the fore. That’ll help you direct your research in the future.
2. Ask Your Customers (Yes, Ask!)
Most marketers would probably put this at the end. And, yes, you need paying customers before you can ask them what they need from you. But it’s important not to forget the power of asking.
In general, you can’t get what you want from people unless you make your needs clear. And that goes double for your customers, who usually need a clear CTA to motivate them to take action.
Yes, it’s not always easy to get your customers to respond to a conventional survey. But there’s a flip side: The better you understand them, the easier it is to incentivize them to give you answers.
In part, this is a function of how your brand communicates with your customers. The more they feel that you’re actually out to help them, the more likely they are to engage with your surveys.
3. Ask Your Sales Team
Your sales team has more crystallized knowledge about customer pain points than anyone else in your organization. That’s because they’re out there on the front lines every day – whenever your customers have new problems to deal with, sales reps get to hear about them first.
With that in mind, it’s important to have open channels of communication with sales.
Trends in customer thinking tend to develop slowly, then burst on the scene all of a sudden with a spate of comments that all point in the same direction. Knowing the pattern, it’s a great idea to stoke the fires of cooperation with a scheduled monthly meeting to discuss new observations.
4. Check Out Social Media and Groups
B2B decision makers are usually senior enough that they’ve started using social media as a tool to cultivate a certain reputation. That means they’re probably involved in some type of outreach and attempts to build thought leadership street cred. You can use their behavior in your research.
Of course, you can connect with a lead on an open platform like Twitter to find out about their needs, and this can be a step in warm prospecting. In general, though, existing customers are your goldmine of info.
And the best place to meet them? None other than LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Groups are terrific for learning how qualified buyers for your offerings think:
- You can get a pretty good sense if someone is an ideal buyer by their profile information.
- Comment threads contain a lot of unguarded chatter you can mine for valuable insights.
- Group memberships give you clues about users’ interests and product research methods.
The fun thing about LinkedIn goes back, again, to the power of asking.
In general, you can simply ask people what their biggest problems are – or how they deal with current business issues – and they’ll be more than happy to tell you. That lets you brush up on the latest customer perspectives and keep those buyer personas up to date.
5. Attend Industry Conferences
For your customers’ industry, that is, not just your own!
Sure, established B2B brands often have representatives at customer-focused events. As a vendor, you can prospect to your heart’s content in a situation where thousands of eager buyers may be packing the convention floor. Still, this is only part of your mission.
Whenever possible, you should also spend time at the breakout sessions.
Just like you, your customers are out there looking to their peers for motivation and inspiration. A conference provides a critical mass of professionals who all want to take things to the next level. Nobody knows better just what pain points are becoming more relevant.
It’s easy to lose focus and think ahead to the meet and greet. To get the full experience:
- Take any literature and get attuned to links, videos, and other content from experts.
- Listen carefully to questions and take notes or, if allowed, record sessions you attend.
- If you have pertinent questions, speak up; save scintillating insights for 1-on-1 chats.
The key is to deep dive for information without singling yourself out as a vendor “operative.” If you participate in a respectful, active way but wait until designated networking time to mention your own offerings, you’ll be perceived as one of the group (instead of an outsider to be wary of).
Don’t Let Finding Customer Pain Points Become One of Your Unresolved Pain Points
When it comes to content, everything starts with customer pain points.
Some pain points last for years – or never go out of fashion. Some, including those that have to do with technology, go out of date relatively fast. New standards in tools, tech, or regulations may bring relief to these issues only to create their own new problems.
Whatever the case may be, opportunities are always shifting for those who keep an eye out.
Integrate these simple techniques into your content research and you’ll be a step ahead.
Just don’t forget to share your results with your whole content team!