Content marketing is all the rage, but when it comes to actually putting the strategy and program into practice, many marketers still struggle to get the right mix. I can't tell you how many emails I delete in a day because they just don't help me solve my issues.
Oftentimes when you ask marketers what their goals are, many will tell you that it's about feeding the funnel by driving thought leadership, getting leads for sales and nurturing warm leads through whitepapers, webinars, content syndication, social, etc. At the end of the game, it's still a numbers game to help justify how marketing is contributing to sales. And when you're a sales-driven organization, it becomes more complicated and your message is very product or brand centric.
Marketers need to understand the multiple points of influence buyers touch before they actually make a purchasing decision, so the content has to align with the buyer's journey to influence the buyer at the right point in time. To be effective in reaching the buyer, a couple of things to consider:
Know the buyer
Understanding the persona of the buyer is crucial. First and foremost, you should have deep insight into their pain points that are impacting their strategic and tactical decisions. Then understand their budgetary constraints, commitments and buying cycle. This way, you can tailor your content and messaging so that it will resonate with the buyer. Understanding their day to day challenges and building a targeted message can help raise the signal to the buyer that you truly do understand their frustrations. Without knowing what they're faced with every day and pitching your product as the solution to help solve all their woes is simply ignorant.
Know their influencers
It's simply not enough for you to target the buyer. You need to reach their influencers – top down. But again, it comes down to understanding the challenges specific to their roles. These influencers either sign off on the projects that impact your brand or outside (industry) influencers who are educating them on what they need to do their job more effectively. These influencers can help make the brand recommendation to the actual buyer. This is a clear segmentation exercise, but it's absolutely necessary to understand how to build your content machine to drive your program and campaigns.
Know Their journey
How do they make their buying decision and at what stage? Where do they go for recommendations? Which forums or communities do they visit? Which peers do they turn to? Which publications do they read to do their discovery? Which events do they attend to get educated on the market and trends? Understanding the buyer's journey – and their multiple points of influence – will help you be where the buyers are without simply relying on your gut feel.
Align content with the journey
Now that you have a clear picture of your buyer's journey, then you can map your content strategy and program to educate, influence and convert. This takes a multi-phased approach to reaching the buyer at the right point in time. Rather than going in strong with your product, it's shifting the content to be more customer-centric.
- Educate the buyer on the critical challenges they've said they face every day. Use this opportunity to speak directly to their pain points and the obstacles that are holding them back from effectively getting the results they need to demonstrate real value.
- Influence the buyer by providing a business case for “why change”. Leverage ROI case studies that showcase how other organizations are making the change and achieving value.
- Convert the buyer by injecting how your brand has helped companies like theirs to make the leap and achieve real results.