A planned programme of compelling content allows you influence buyers at every step of the sales process. You just need the right message ready for each touch point. Follow these six steps to create must-have content and plan your publishing schedule.
1. Get under the skin of your audience
You have to truly understand your prospects and markets in order to produce content that presses their buttons.
Create buyers personas for each distinct decision-maker so you have a written-down description in front of you. This is the single most useful thing you can do to aid your content process. You need to consider:
- What makes this prospect tick?
- What are the key problems they need to solve?
- What pain points block their success?
- What motivates them professionally?
- Where do they seek guidance and confirmation for buying decisions?
2. Map content to the buying cycle
Create a ‘content grid’ for each buyer persona. List the stages of the sales cycle along the top axis. For each segment of the grid, plot a single key message. Produce a variety of content around each message for each buyer persona.
Don’t write something general. ONLY produce content that is really important and helpful one buyer persona at a time.
This is a great way focus the mind! Put yourself in the shoes of your prospects. The objective is to anticipate and answer the questions that arise as prospects evaluate your service.
You’ve probably already got some content resources to plunder. Presentations, newsletters, FAQs, notes of all kinds — review and refresh what you’ve got. Filling in the gaps on your content matrix is do-able by referring back to buyer personas you created in Step 1. Map that ‘missing’ content to each step in the sales cycle.
3. Question, answer, offer
It’s OK to give away some expertise — indeed you have to in order to prove that you are a credible expert. Each answer you provide is a calling card, salesman and a deposit in the ‘Influence Bank’.
Check and re-check that the content you are producing is genuinely valuable to your buyer personas. If it is, then there is every chance people will share it with others (see Step 6).
“Investing in quality content proves to the world that you're the go-to firm in your niche.”
4. Squeeze out every last drop of value
Quality content is a ‘gift that keeps on giving.’ Unlike campaign-based outbound marketing such as advertising, inbound marketing based on valuable content it is an investment that you can leverage again and again.
Consider how you can re-purpose the content you produce:
- Can a video interview be edited down to a mini-series?
- Perhaps the transcript can be turned into a Question and Answer article.
- And did the interview justify a blog post?
- Re-framing or re-working content to fit another format is a classic publishers’ trick and one that allows you to multiply the value of your expertise.
“Do the work once and re-publish many times. ”
5. Share it and make it shareable
Don’t hide your precious content on your blog. Make it work for you. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, forums... you can engage across all relevant discussion and link to your content.
For instance, integrating a blog into your LinkedIn profile takes three clicks and 10 seconds. Your new blog posts now show up on your LinkedIn profile.
6. Measure, adjust, re-apply
You’ll want to know which of your content is popular (gets shared) so that you can produce more of it and reach even more relevant prospects and partners.
There are lots of ways to track your content marketing progress:
- Use free third party tools to plot and graph your Twitter activity
- Measure how people reach and interact with your blog using Google Analytics
- Understand how people engage with your Facebook Page with Insights