Put the power of questions to work for you

It’s a concept so simple most marketers and companies don’t even think about it. When humans want to know something, we ask questions. Paying attention to common questions and sharing the answers is a remarkably powerful form of communication.

The FAQ (frequently asked questions) document or web page is one of the most important messaging tools available today. You may have thought of it as a “throwaway” you tacked on after the “real” messaging was done. But that throwaway has the potential to strengthen sales efforts, overcome resistance, minimize misunderstandings, and boost customer satisfaction. Even better? You already know everything you need to develop your own FAQ.

An FAQ is a list of questions frequently asked by stakeholders such as prospects and customers, as well as the answers to those questions. This powerful tool works as well as it does because it creates a conversation with those stakeholders.

We think of websites, blogs, brochures, and other communications tools as one-way messages. You take something you your audience needs to know, and you present it to them. Most often, your information is promotional and concentrates on what you see as the most important points.

When your stakeholders read through your information, but it fails to tell them everything they want to know, or they’re confused about a key point, what happens? They could contact you, but that takes additional time and effort. More likely, they’ll just decide to do business with your competitor — or they may just forget all about it.

A well-crafted, thorough FAQ page or document fills the gap. By anticipating your prospect’s questions, and providing a confident response, you take the conversation with that individual to the next step.

Your prospect is 95 percent of the way sold, but there’s one thing they’re just not sure about, and that’s keeping them from saying yes. But wait – you have an FAQ page, and sure enough, you have an answer for the very question they had. Not only have you instantly addressed and removed their hesitancy, you’ve turned a browser into a buyer.

How does someone come up with a list of questions for an FAQ? The best way is the easiest – just pay attention. Listen to the questions you’ve heard from prospects or customers, especially those coming to your customer support line. I’m willing to wager there’s a handful of questions that get asked again and again. And again.

The questions you’re tired of hearing and could answer in your sleep? They’re the ones that should be in your FAQ. And maybe you should think about spending more time explaining them, since it’s clear people don’t get them on their own. As new questions become the annoying ones, you can add them to the FAQ, so it becomes even more effective.

It’s pretty easy to assemble an FAQ page, but there’s one mistake you absolutely cannot afford to make. Your FAQ will not strengthen your sales efforts, overcome resistance, minimize misunderstandings, or boost customer satisfaction unless it’s completely candid and honest. It’s not a place for advertising-speak or weasel wording that satisfies lawyers and no one else. If people reading your FAQ sense you’re not being completely forthcoming, they won’t trust anything you have to say. Candid FAQ answers instantly build confidence and trust in the reader’s mind.

Imagine this question on competing manufacturers’ FAQ pages: “How hard is it to assemble your veeblefetzer?”

The first company takes a typical response using ad-speak: “It’s amazingly easy to put your veeblefetzer together with common tools you have around the shop. Before you know it, you’ll be coring radishes faster than ever!”

The second shoots for a different approach: “Most buyers says it takes between 90 minutes and two hours to assemble their veeblefetzers, slightly more for people who aren’t used to mechanical projects. You’ll need a hammer, a #2 Phillips screwdriver, a pair of small needle-nose pliers, and a 3/8-inch socket wrench. A bench vise or bar clamp may make assembly easier. Just be sure to read the instructions completely, because buyers who encounter problems typically confess that they missed a step.”

Which company’s FAQ would you trust? And whose veeblefetzer would you buy?