Content CreationDigital MarketingFeatured

Are you putting the right stuff out there?

By May 1, 2016 No Comments

To be successful, a content marketing strategy for any business – large or small – needs to take an integrated view. Have yourself the question: ‘Have I looked at my customer/prospect journey holistically?’.

It is becoming increasingly more important to identify an approach and a purpose for ‘content’. Your target audience has access to a wealth of information, so without a content marketing strategy, you may run the risk of focusing on content itself too much and losing sight of what you actually want to achieve in your overall goals. In essence, creating ‘stuff’ for the sake of having it – which won’t help you that much in converting prospect into customers. One size does NOT fit all!

So what are the aims of content marketing?

Content marketing is an umbrella term for marketing material that can be used in a variety of things:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Engagement
  • Sales
  • Lead nurturing
  • Customer retention and loyalty
  • Customer evangelism/referral/word-of-mouth
  • Up-selling and cross-selling

But it’s through a strategy that you can create targeted materials that actually make a difference.

Forming a strategy – what you need to understand:

There are some key things that will help you in creating a content strategy. It’s essential that you put in the legwork to understand who you’re speaking to before you put pen to paper – or indeed mouse to computer (design-wise). Creating messaging that will make a difference comes through truly understanding who you’re speaking to. We don’t just mean sectors and job titles, we’re talking in-depth.

Step One – Understanding buying personas

Do you understand the buyer personas of the people you are targeting? Do you know what their content needs and preferences are? Not only do these define appropriate interaction tone/method/platform, but also ‘qualify out’ so that you don’t waste your time.

If you have a consumer product/service, seek to familiarise yourself with your buyer/end user profiles, like age, gender, profession, financial situation, purpose, education, free time, status in the buying decision, shopping habits.

If you target the commercial sector, understand their sector purpose and priorities, and broken further down into their role, get under the skin of their profession, purpose and level of authority.

Step Two – Understanding buying cycles

The buying cycle will differ depending on your personas. Most people have a series of stages they will go through before they sign on the dotted line and spend their hard earned cash.

For consumers, they will most likely follow:

Having an awareness of their needs

  • Researching their considerations
  • Analysing what they have found and making comparisons
  • Making the purchase
  • Being loyal to the brand they have chosen

The B2B cycle is likely to be more in-depth as they have to make more justifications:

  • Discovering their needs through investigation and prioritisation of issues
  • Committing to making a change (operationally and financially)
  • Researching their considerations
  • Seeking validation through references and endorsements
  • Justifying the potential solution
  • Making a decision – choosing the right product/service and gaining buy-in
  • Making the purchase
  • Being loyal to the brand they have chosen

Step Three – Aligning the personas to the buying cycle in terms of touchpoints

By now, you will have a wealth of information that will allow you to overlay personas and the buying cycle to the various touchpoints they will encounter on their journey towards you. By way of example, think of the last time you made a big purchase. It’s entirely likely that this was a mix of media – from Word of Mouth, to print advertising, to online reviews… Just because someone starts their buying journey online and finished it online, it doesn’t mean they won’t have some offline elements that persuaded them to come up with the cash!

A good way to do this step, is to map various customer journeys by profile. The visual element will make it easier to understand for you and your colleagues.

Align personas to touchpoints, taking all of the ways you interact physically, verbally and indirectly with your target customers. Look at the type of information different ‘archetypes’ of buyers seek during their buying journey and maps the customer touch-points, preferred communication channels, and content formats.

After these 3 critical steps, you will be in a good position to start creating your TARGETED content, giving the right messages to the right people, in the right format, at the right time. Remember to build your objectives in to every step:

1.     Awareness Build awareness and curiosity in your brand
2.     Research Create strong, search-friendly product or service-related content to build your audience trust and raise your visibility throughout the buying cycle.
3.     Options Create content tailored around their needs, pain points, and questions, demonstrating why your company is the best choice.
4.     Promotion Generate promotional content that motivates your prospects to look deeper into the buying cycle. Blend it with content that targets each buyer persona.
5.     Step backs Build trust at the very beginning of the buying cycle with content that addresses potential risks clearly – without creating any fear. Be seen as the expert through demonstration of credibility.
6.     Validation Testimonials are a key factor in converting customers. Substantiate what your audience already knows about you and your business.
7.     Purchase Provide proof points, such as trials, or demonstrations to close the deal.
8.     Evaluation Cultivate interest and build trust through in-depth content such as trend reports, training opportunities, case studies, events, and social media interaction.
9.     Status Quo Continually serve up relevant, interesting content like newsletters to keep your customers and put them back into the buying cycle. Combat your competitors – don’t let them get a look in!

Even if your product or service is the best thing out there, people will only know about it if you tell them. It’s not enough to hope that you’ll cross their paths eventually with density of content. Taking a targeted approach through a content strategy simply means you’re more likely to be on the same road to meet up with them sooner.

Good luck out there!

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