Calling all content marketers!
This article is designed to help guide you in your approach to planning and delivering impactful content.
Let's begin by addressing the conflict of interest that manifests itself through the need to deliver great content, quickly, in response to business needs and market changes, whilst addressing that voice within that cries "why are we doing what we are doing, and how can we best plan our approach to content creation and delivery to maximize its effect?"
Take this example.
You've received the content brief from your business or client. It states what they want, for example, a sales brochure that talks about industry news and 'sells in' their product or service.
That's fine for a top level project outline and is often all you're likely to get.
The problem is, when it comes to content, one size rarely fits all. To ensure that you produce effective content that generates sales, you need to deliver the right content to the right people in the right place at the right time.
Content mapping will help us achieve this.
There are two fundamental constituents to consider in your approach to content mapping:
1. Who are we talking to
For example: key characteristics, demographics, their likes and dislikes, as well as where and how the target audience is likely to consume content.
There's no point in creating great content that the target wont read because you've created a print brochure and your audience is only interested in (or likely to read) online content.
Similarly, there's not much value to be had in writing a professional and complex whitepaper for a target group that would typically only skim read short, snappy content; in which case, something like an infographic could be best.
2. Stage in the relationship life cycle
At what stage of the buying cycle would we position our target audience? How close are they to making a purchase?
The answer to these questions will determine our approach to delivering content.
We can break down the core life cycle stages as follows:
- Awareness: the target has identified a need or want that we can fulfill. They might be aware of your company but they are in the investigative phase where they value information to help inform their decision.
- Interest: although still evaluating their options, the target has recognized the benefits your product/service can offer and expressed an interest. They are likely to be in the shopping around phase whilst they consider if they are truly interested in making a purchase.
- Desire and decision: the target had identified a need for the product or service so it is just a matter of choosing a provider. This is where the competition hot's up!
So how do we approach these different audiences?
It's essential that as content marketers, we have access to a segmented database.
Yes, we can produce content that is generic and applies to all, but we want to help our company or client be successful, and selfishly, we want our content to do really well. We want to get the telephones ringing, web traffic soaring and ensure customers are banging your door down, not those of your competitors.
How will we approach each stage in the life cycle?
- Awareness: subtlety is important. You don't want to throw sales content at your audience. Think about the purpose of your content and how it can help the audience become more informed about the product/service and its benefits. The purpose is not to convert the prospect into a customer; it's to position yourself as a thought leader and hope that we can move them into the 'Interest' category.
- Interest: at this stage you can mention how your specific product or service could help your audience to solve a problem. Remember you are still trying to impress with your knowledge of the industry so be careful not to turn content into a self-promotional sales pitch.
- Desire and decision: its time to show off. Promote your offering and back it up with testimonials and case studies. If you can tell the audience how great you are through other people and include recommendations, your pitch will be all the more powerful.
Its easy to create a really powerful content marketing plan when you've taken the time to create a really detailed road map.
The journey becomes far more efficient and enjoyable if you've thought about how you are going to get there, doesn't it.
Hubspot has created a fantastic, free downloadable content mapping template to get you started.
Picture your target audience, segment your data dependent on life cycle stage, and write interesting, informative content delivered in a suitable way and your competition wont stand a chance.