Content Management

The Customer Journey: Does Your Content Match Up?

Content, content, content. If you have any responsibility for the marketing function in your organization, you're well aware of the steady shift to Inbound from Outbound Marketing. You're also no doubt being badgered by every blog, article, and webinar about the need to continually feed the content monster. More content. Relevant content. More frequent content.

All that pestering is valid. For your Inbound Marketing program to be successful, you need to be providing content on a regular basis so your prospects can find you and eventually become customers. But it's more than just pouring content into the top of the funnel and waiting for the revenue to flow out of the spout. To be really effective, you need to be providing the right content at the right time.

You know by now that prospects don't want to be sold. But they do want help to buy. The information they need differs at each stage in the buying cycle. That's the key point. A successful Content Marketing plan matches the appropriate content to the needs of the prospect at each step of the Customer Journey.

From your prospect's perspective, the Customer Journey can be separated into three steps: Discovery, Research, Purchase. From your point of view, the corresponding stages are: Awareness, Credibility, Sale. To get to the final stage and close the deal, you need to be aligned with your prospect by providing compelling content at every step.

Here's how to approach each phase from a content perspective.

1. Discovery/Awareness

Your prospects have a need to be fulfilled. At the beginning of the journey, they're casting a wide net looking for possible solutions. Your goal at this stage is to provide content that makes you part of the catch. Introduce yourself to prospects in order to advance to the next stage.

There are numerous ways to present your organization to potential customers. Blogs promoted on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube), infographics, and video are among the most effective content pieces to help you get noticed. Your website, logo, and ad campaigns all contribute to your visibility. plan a route . You have to be out there with content that people can find and share so when they have that need, they think of you.

2. Research/Credibility

Once you make the cut and become a potential source to fulfill the prospects' requirement, the validation stage begins. Prospects will be conducting more in depth research at this point to determine who is best suited to meet their need. You must prove that you can provide a credible solution. You can best do this by providing content that illustrates your knowledge, expertise, and ability to help them. Content pieces that establish your credibility include ebooks, white papers, articles, and webinars.

3. Purchase/Sale

If you've done a good job establishing your viability, you'll hopefully get a chance to close the deal. The prospect has invested a lot of time and energy getting to the final candidates. Your goal now is to differentiate yourself from the other contenders. Why should the prospect choose you? What makes you the best solution to solve their problem? Content that can nail down the sale includes vendor comparisons, case studies, company presentations, and proposals.

Don't cut corners when it comes to the final proposal. If you've been fortunate enough to be selected as a finalist, your last chance to seal the deal is with your proposal. Take advantage and make sure you use this final opportunity to convince your prospect that you can provide the best solution for their need.

Yes content is crucial. Your content plan is much more effective, however, when you have a strategy that puts the right content in front of your prospect at the time it will do the most good.

Do you have a comprehensive content strategy? If not, why not?



Photo Credit: Edgar Barany via Compfight cc

Your Content Game Plan: Content Strategy, Content Marketing, Content Management

You can't get more than a sentence or two into a post or article on marketing without colliding into one of these terms: Content Strategy, Content Marketing, Content Management. Within a paragraph or so, you'll likely encounter them all. Those of us in the content creation world are familiar with all three, but that might not be the case for everyone. So today I thought I'd go to the experts and provide some basic definitions of these three critical concepts that make up your overall Content Game Plan.

Content Strategy

Michael Brenner (@brennermichael), Senior Director of #Marketing and Content Strategy for SAP defines it as "the mindset, culture and approach to delivering your customers' information needs in all places they are searching for it, across each stage of the buying process."

Mark O'Brien (@newfangledmark), CEO of Newfangled Web Developers, defines it as "a plan for regularly adding unique, expert, and indexable content to your site."

Kristina Halvorson (@halvorson), Content Strategist, Founder and President of Brain Traffic  says that "Content Strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content. " She says the Content Strategist must define why we're publishing it in the first place.

In a word: Content Strategy is the why of content.

Content Marketing

Joe Pulizzi (@juntajoe), Founder of the Content Marketing Institute says that the formal definition of Content Marketing is "creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action."

Robert Rose (@robert_rose), Strategist @CMI/Analyst at Digital Clarity Group says that "traditional marketing and adverting is telling the world you're a rockstar. Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one."

Jason Falls (@jasonfalls), founder of Social Media Explorer defines it as "using any type of content (newsletters, blog posts, white papers, video, tweets, podcasts, wall posts) to attract an audience you wish to market to."

In a word: Content Marketing is the what of content.

Content Management

Kevin P. Nichols (@kpnichols), Director and Practice Lead for Content Strategy, Sapient Nitro, says it "designs the processes and structures as well as implements technologies to manage content from acquisition and publication to storage."

Laurence Hart (@piewords), Information Professional, CIO for AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) calls it "the coordinated management of all content throughout an organization, allowing for people and systems to find and use content from within any business context."

Bernard Kohan, Co-Founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Comentum Corporation defines it as "an application that provides capabilities for multiple users with different permission levels to manage content, data, or information of a website project or internet/intranet application."

In a word, Content Management is the how of content.

There you have it. The Why, What and How of Content.

How does your Content Game Plan shape up? Is it a winner?