Surprising as it may seem, there are still countless B2B companies that are skeptical of the impact of content marketing.
In some cases, it’s because they have posted a few blogs, they’ve written white papers, they may even have tried their hand at video – and they aren’t seeing meaningful results.
This may be because their content is lousy, but let’s say for the sake of argument that it’s solid.
Quite possibly, their content hasn’t been thoughtfully mapped to their sales cycle, which means that targets aren’t seeing the right content at the right time.
In fact, we see this all the time.
We work with our clients to create a strategic editorial calendar that addresses their target customer’s needs across the spectrum of the sales cycle, taking into consideration the unique messaging that each stage requires.
And guess what…?
You’re in luck, because I’m going to share some of those strategies today.
Early stage leads – impression is everything
At this stage of the game, your prospective customers are really just searching for information.
Some research suggests that more than 75% of all B2B buyers have conducted comprehensive online research before a vendor is even approached.
So don’t kid yourself – the decision makers are scouring Google, searching for information, reading up about your competition and deciding what brand resonates best. And if you want to be on your target’s radar, you better make sure that you have an optimized, dynamic and meaningful online presence.
So, this early stage is all about search. And to optimize your search, you want to be feeding your website and social media channels with meaningful, dynamic and engaging content that addresses your target customer’s pain points.
Show them how you can solve their problems and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry with:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Press releases
- Your website
Mid stage leads – prove your capabilities
At this stage, you’ve already been discovered. You’re on the radar. Your blog posts have been read.
But now your prospective client is looking for some confirmation of your capabilities – some proof that there will be a return on their investment.
This is when you want to share content in the form of:
- Client success stories or case studies
- Customer testimonials (in video format…even better!)
- Data sheets that detail the impact of your products and services
These materials demonstrate your track record and reassure the prospective customer that you can deliver!
Late stage leads – seal the deal
You’re almost at the finish line, but not quite.
The customer may have narrowed down the vendor selection to you and possibly one or two other candidates.
So you want to leverage your content, at this stage, to really underscore your value proposition and your differentiating features.
You probably want to address the competition’s shortcomings and limitations (compared to your offering) and highlight these messages through:
- Customized and targeted email campaigns
- Comparison sheets
You have the content…what now?
Half the battle in a content marketing campaign is understanding how to push out your ‘gold’ through the appropriate channels.
Understanding the sales cycle is critical, but then you need to push that message to your targets at the right time.
So when you create your editorial calendar, make sure you consider:
- The static content on your site (and that it is optimized for search)
- Opt in opportunities (for white papers and data sheets)
- Your email distribution channels
- The content on your social media platforms
- Conferences and face-to-face engagements
- Print distribution channels
- Video messaging
- Traditional PR resources
- Scheduled webinars, training programs and presentations
All of these opportunities can be coordinated with your content marketing efforts to ensure that you approach your sales cycle thoughtfully and strategically.
So, do you map your content marketing efforts to your sales cycle? Do you have materials that address your target customers’ needs at all stages? Do you disagree with this approach?
Share your thoughts and reactions in the comment section below, and if you found this post useful, we’d be every so grateful if you’d share it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. .