Close the Dreaded Content Marketing Gap

content marketing gapYou might have great content coverage in the awareness stage, good coverage in the purchasing stage; and zilch at the interest stage. This is not good.

Find out what content you already own, then leverage it and create new content to fill that content marketing gap.

The Audit: Know What You’ve Got

You can hire a company to do a great big content analysis for you, or you can do it yourself. Do a simple gap analysis by sales cycle, which will tell you what pieces you need to fill in.

Once you’re completed your audit and know what you’ve got, you ready to roll.

It’s Miller Time: Filling Those Gaps

Now it’s time to analyze what you have from your content library and match it to your sales cycles and sales goals. Draw your conclusions based on what you know about your own sales cycle and customers, and on your competitors’ resources.

Know your customers’ pain points, where your offerings intersect to solve them, and your market differentiators. Write it all down and match customer needs and sales cycle location to the most relevant content.

Now you can plan your content creation. For existing pieces, you will need to decide to keep it as is, to update it, or to retire it. Also decide if the piece can be leveraged into different pieces. It’s entirely possible that a white paper was great in its time but has aged. You might still be able to leverage parts of the white paper to build new resources.

For example, it’s a pretty good bet that the IT guy who is actively looking to purchase backup software doesn’t need a colorful infographic. He does need case studies, product briefs, and data sheets. But that cool infographic will exactly suit prospects who are early in the awareness stage, because it attracts positive attention. And that business-of-technology white paper suits the interest stage very well, especially since you can gate it for customer contact information. Or if you’re light on the awareness stage, consider creating a SlideShare presentation or a thought leadership article in an industry trade journal.

Give Your Customers the Content They Care About

If you publish content that your customers don’t want, what good does that do anyone?

It’s tough breaking through a lot of content noise, and you’re never going to get 100% buy-in from everyone who gives you a view. But if you’re consistently writing marketing content that your customers don’t care about, you’re not going to get very far.

1. Know your audience. I know, everyone talks about the importance of this and they’re right. But even though you know your audience backwards and forwards, does your marketing writer? Do a creative brief with your employee or contractor and make sure they know who they’re writing to, and what the pain points are.

2. Match content to sales stages. Writing light technology to a technical audience at the purchase stage isn’t going to convince them to make the jump. Either is writing heavy technology to business executives at the interest stage. The former problem occurs with marketing writers that don’t have technology chops; the latter with engineers tasked with writing early stage content. Match tone and content to the audience and to their stage.

3. Use a voice that the customer wants to hear. Believe me, I can be an offender – my favorite thing to read has a lot of practical information delivered in a breezy voice with some humor. When I’m writing for my clients, they rarely want that because their customers don’t. Not their problem, mine; so I adapted to writing in various voices.

4. Let’s get real: you’re trying to sell something here. Ultimately content is about sales, and you need promotional content at the purchase and serious interest stages. Selling without being promotional is trickier at the awareness and early interest stages. These stages need content that clearly defines their pain points, and the solutions they should be looking for. If you’re good and they’re ready, they’ll sign on to your mailing list… and eventually, you will share with them that, miraculously enough, your solution clearly meets the customer’s pain points.

5. Appropriate catchy headlines. Yes, they’re important; headlines are the hook that draws readers in. A lot of the online advice out there is for very marketing-intensive emails, not technology B2B. For example, “9 Simple Ways You Can Absolutely Own Your Backup Appliance” seriously isn’t going to fly. But “Simple Tweaks Increase Backup Appliance Performance 10X” will.

6. Provide transcripts with your word-heavy videos and podcasts. Not exactly a critical tip, more a preference that might impact your response rate. Some audiophiles are great with video/audio only and no text, but visual learners like me (and there are a lot of us) don’t want to listen past a minute or less. We want to read. It’s not a big extra step to transcribe, and adds so much to your longer videos and podcasts.

Want more practical advice on creating content that sells? My pleasure.

Content for the Whole Sales Stage

Name/brand recognition is a Really Good Thing and you want that. However, I see a number of B2B tech companies who concentrate on getting initial recognition with slick online content. And they succeed — but fail to push the prospect into the purchasing stage, because the company lacks end-stage (end-game?) marketing content.

End-stage content isn’t very sexy. It’s white papers, technical briefs, case studies. But you need it, because your prospects want it. Don’t short your content on this sales stage.

Ransomware in the Ring

Great timely cartoon by John Klossner

IT: Boss, I have good news and bad news.
CTO: Give me the good news.
IT: We put in network intrusion detection, updated our anti-virus, deployed a strong new firewall, hired security consultants, and finished end-user security training.
CTO: Sounds good. What’s the bad news?
IT: The COO opened an attachment.