How many times have you heard that, in marketing, there is no one-size-fits all – or some variation of it? However it’s phrased, the idea remains the same: trying to reach everybody will result in reaching nobody. Content marketing is no different.
It started as giving out helpful, useful information to build authority and attract customers, and that’s not changing. But that information also has to be relevant to customers, depending on where they are in the funnel – and marketers are becoming aware of this. According to a recent study by web presence management firm Conductor:
- 87% are mapping content, or plan to map their content, to the buying cycle.
- 92% understand that measuring buyers’ progress through the funnel is important.
If you are not already among this majority, Conductor’s Nathan Safran has provided three key questions to help you begin shifting to a targeted content model. Let’s dig further into them.
Who is your audience?
The essential first step to any content plan is defining personas – exactly who the content will be designed to reach.
You don’t have to drill so deep that your content hits only one target, like Seth Godin wrote. But you do need to segment the audience, so you can create content specifically for the interests of certain groups. There can be more than one, especially in the B2B sphere – say, C-levels, technical decision makers, and influencers.
Nobody knows the client like the client-facing people. So work with your sales teams to get your target personas right. These four points we touched on before, plus these guidelines, might help with your segmenting.
Combine both marketing and sales perspectives to get as balanced and accurate a picture of the audience as possible.
What are the challenges/desires that motivate them to seek out your product?
Once you know who to aim at, the next step is grabbing their attention at the top of your funnel (TOFU) – the crucial point when it’s easiest to lose a prospect.
Many seek you out because they have a need to fulfill, or a problem to solve. They’re not looking to be sold to – they’re looking to help themselves. This is why your first-touch content should never be a sales pitch; on the contrary, it should be agnostic.
Focus on needs and problems instead of pushing your brand (not all that different from online dating). It may take as little as a “we are better” statement to make you look like just another self-interested seller in a prospect’s eyes. So demonstrate your expertise neutrally, the way a customer would like to receive it, and above all, help them to help themselves.
The idea behind agnostic content at the TOFU stage is twofold: to establish trust, and then lead prospects further down the funnel.
What are the unique challenges they are looking to resolve at each step of their buyer’s journey?
The typical prospect will want to know:
- At the top of the funnel – why they should do business with you, or why they even have a problem to solve. The ‘awareness’ phase.
- In the middle of the funnel – more about the solution and why it is right for them. The ‘consideration’ phase.
- At the bottom of the funnel – how they can make the solution process easier. The ‘decision’ phase.
The MOFU and BOFU stages are where the more overt parts of your pitch come in. You might have used an ‘overview’ explainer video or infographic as a first touch, to educate prospects and tease more to come. Once you have their attention and trust, you might draw on your brand’s past successes to publish a best practices e-book or whitepaper.
This in turn would convince prospects to engage with you at the bottom, where you might roll out a sales kit or timed offers (such as free trials or discount codes) to help them prepare to procure and implement your solution.
All the various content types in the marketer’s playbook work, but the trick is making them work the way you want. Mapping them to buyer personas and the individual stages of the funnel will ensure a more accurate outcome than simply distributing what seems useful.
Read more: content marketing solutions from GetIT Comms.