Chris Fell, Managing Director of g2m Solutions, writes…
In the course of building your content marketing strategy, you will build a powerful, meaningful relationship with your target audience; one that is built on mutual respect and understanding.
So what is content marketing? It means building valuable content that you give willingly to your contacts, leads, qualified prospects and customers in order to:
- Expand their understanding of the issues they face;
- assist them to clarify what’s wrong; and
- help them understand how best to fix their problems at a time and in a format that suits them best.
In short, it’s about stimulating the minds of your target market to such a point, and in such a way, that they take action. Without creating action, marketing is a pointless exercise.
But here’s the rub. It means you have to stop shouting at your audience and do something useful; put your own agenda to one side; stop talking about yourself and the wonders of version 2.7.3 of you latest software or wonderful widget. Nobody, except you, and possibly your competition, cares. You have to earn the right with your prospects to talk to them about how you can help them. How? By showing them you understand their problems and issues.
Is this revolutionary thinking? Hardly. These have been essential truths for many years. But the environment is rapidly changing and the stakes are getting A LOT higher.
The web has fundamentally changed the way we research topics we are interested in and how we solve problems and gaps in our knowledge. Your target audience is engaging with you directly much later in the sales cycle. You must seek to influence their understanding via content marketing.
Succesful Content marketing requires a selling organisation to:
- Know its buyers, understand their problems, their pain and the gap between where they are now and where they want to be;
- Understand that a buyer goes through a journey;
- Know when a buyer gets to the tipping point of action and moves from one stage in their buying journey to the next;
- Understand that the content needs to change to suit the different stages of the journey and that they must produce content that reflects the stage of the journey that the prospect has reached;
- Have a multi-element campaign that builds your prospect’s knowledge, stage by stage;
- Have an automated system that effectively and affordably offers that content to the buyer at the right time;
- Know when the buyer is ready and happy to engage with a member of your sales team;
- Creates content that supports the entire funnel including the sales team in the lower funnel;
- Is able to gather database information from that prospect at different stages of the buyer’s journey and hand over all the information gathered at certain points to a sales person; and
- Readily accepts a prospect that has leaked from the sales funnel and continues to nurture that lead until they are ready to engage once more.
So, how does your organisation stack up against these ten ‘must haves’? And what are the key steps to create a succesful content marketing strategy?
- Assign one member for your team with the additional responsibility of being your “content editor”. They should have overall project management responsibility;
- Conduct a content audit; what have you already got to start with?;
- Create a content map that aligns your buyer’s knowledge and information requirements to the stages of the buyer’s journey;
- Develop content to fill any gaps;
- Install a marketing automation platform to perform the ‘heavy lifting’ of running the content campaign;
- Configure the platform to distribute content in a ‘logical campaign’;
- Use lead-scoring to determine where leads have reached in their buyers journey and the point where they become sales-ready;
- Ensure you have a recycling tactic in place to deal with those leads who are not ready to buy yet.
Content marketing is the manifestation of the marketing revolution that is sweeping the B2B world, inbound marketing. It is in direct contrast to traditional, interruption-based marketing, and builds a true and meaningful dialog with prospects. Many firms build content themselves with the help of the many experts and thought leaders in they employ. However, the key challenge for most firms is how to string the content story together and deliver it in a way that consistently supports and nurtures their relationship with their prospects. For that, many firms – small, medium and large, are turning to inbound and content marketing agencies for help.
Chris Fell is the Managing Director of g2m Solutions, and an accredited align.me Funnel Coach. To read more of his insights, go to the g2M Solutions blog.