In today’s online world, 57% of a purchasing decision is made before a buyer contacts a seller. Content is the vehicle that provides the education, industry trends, product comparisons and other valuable information that a sales rep provided in the past. It ensures that prospects are learning about your services even if they aren’t speaking with you directly.
There's no substitute for effective sales reps in a direct selling organization and well done content can make them even better. Convincing content marketing nurtures a prospect through the purchasing phases similar to an effective sales rep. When a rep first engages a prospect, the goal is to uncover problems, the needs or gaps in a current process vs. the ideal state. Initial meetings identify challenges. Subsequent meetings provide educational opportunities and bring clarity to potential solutions, ultimately paving the way for next steps. Content marketing fills a similar role allowing you to communicate with your customers and prospects without selling.
How To Develop Content Marketing That Connects
The first step in developing an effective content marketing program is to define your objective. If you are training for a marathon, swimming isn’t your primary training option. Instead, you lay out a plan that includes long runs, slow runs, races and cross training. Similarly, content should align to your overall business strategy. If your target audience values in-depth white papers and case studies, frequent 140 character posts on Twitter will give your thumbs a workout but not benefit the audience you are trying to attract.
When developing your objective, think about the mission you expect your content to serve. For example:
- What is your primary target audience?
- What will you deliver to your audience?
- What is the desired outcome?
Quantifying your objective is the first step and will open your eyes to topics that are meaningful to your audience.
Make It Personal
Although we work in a business to business industry, the most effective contacts are always person to person. A helpful way to make your content personal is to develop personas of your current audience and the ones you’d like to attract. A persona will clearly illustrate who your buyers are so you can develop content that is relevant to their needs. It will also guide where you publish that information to ensure it is in a form that they typically consume.
A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your target buyer including details about their:
- Job Type
- Pain Points
- What Is Important To Them
- Goals And Objectives
- Information Sources
You have multiple audience segments that you sell to today. Take the time to define the details of each one. Then, routinely add to that data to learn how to target your content in the most effective manner.
Quantify Your Plan
After you’ve defined your objective and developed personas, the next step is to quantify your plan. A new content program requires, content. That may be obvious but if you don’t have someone responsible for that function today, then you need to determine how you will generate it moving forward. Do you have an internal source? Will a freelance or agency better serve your needs? How often do you plan on publishing new content? Are you focused on web pages, blog posts or is video the best option? Although your personas will guide the type of content you produce, the resources required hinge completely on the amount you are generating. Define your content source before you move forward.
Allocate The Resources
If you are publishing effective content, it will result in new leads. Who responds to those requests? If you get negative feedback, how do you handle it? Do you have one person that reviews and publishes all content? What happens if that person is out? Not accounting for these time demands in advance often leads to a conflict in priorities. Programs fail when resources are diverted.
Ensure Long Term Success
A successful content program requires commitment. A commitment to the time, resources and unwavering support to make it successful. Nothing destroys the momentum of a content marketing program like taking your staff away from their content responsibilities. Daily execution over the long haul works. Seven in eight business-to-business blogs fail. Don’t start a content program unless you are willing to prioritize the necessary resources.
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