As BtoB marketers are tasked with making messaging more relevant at every phase of the buying cycle, content marketing has emerged as a key component of the sales and marketing process.
In a webinar last week titled, “Content Mapping: Where to Start, What You Need and How it Works,” a panel of industry experts offered strategies to effectively leverage a content mapping strategy as a supplemental approach to BtoB marketing.
“Influences are now throughout the Internet and our prospects are engaging with them and not necessarily with your messaging, which is where content marketing comes into pay,” said Scott Mersy, VP Marketing, Genius.com.
While sales and marketing teams typically used to dictate the messaging and content as part of the buying process, prospects are now calling the shots, and it’s imperative to appeal to their needs, wants and preferences. It’s up to marketers to connect with prospects outside the traditional sales funnel to build and ongoing dialogue.
Based on recent research conducted by Genius in conjunction with DemandGen Report, 50% of marketers say they map content to the buying process. “None of us are doing that perfectly,” said Craig Rosenberg, VP Products & Services, Focus and webinar presenter. “We’re all ‘getting there’ and the reality is that we could do a lot more to do it better.”
In a webinar poll, 38% of attendees said that they want to use content marketing but are overwhelmed on where to start, while 27% said they have started with content marketing but need guidance. The solution, according to Rosenberg, is to create a consistent repeatable program that moves away from the stress of one-off campaigns.
Where to Start: Inventory Your Existing Content Assets
While many marketers may take a “start-from-scratch” approach, content marketing strategist and author Ardath Albee encouraged marketers to think of ways to leverage existing content. “Do it in a way that helps you get closer to where you need to be,” she said, cautioning marketers that content created to speak to everybody is not an effective approach.
On her Marketing Interactions blog Albee promotes a seven-stage approach, starting with the status quo. “A lot of marketers will say to me, ‘we don’t have to do that because a lot of [prospects] already know they have a problem,” she said. “My response is ‘great, who started the conversation?’ If you’re not getting in that status quo conversation, you’re behind. Albee said marketers need to encourage prospects to ask questions like “Why should I change?” “What could happen if I do nothing?”
In the “priority stage,” marketers need to address how common pain points and technologies are impacting their prospects’ industry, to establish understanding. “You have to know your prospects well enough to know what their specific situations are,” Albee said, taking a cue from the “persona-driven approach”
Once marketers can prove that they are a credible source of information (by using research and case study-relevant tactics), prospects move to the “options” stage,” analyzing the options and solutions that best suit their needs. Albee advised marketers to demonstrate the value of a partnership to prove why an organization should be on prospects’ short list.
“We need to start producing content that shows the differences between solutions,” Albee said. “…Case studies, analyst reports…Focus on showing them what kind of partnership you’re going to develop for them. What extra expertise are you going to bring to the table that they can’t get from someone else?”
What Marketers Need to Proceed
The webinar offered 4 tools every marketer should have in his or her toolkit to optimize buyer personas and profiles.
- Problem-to-Solution Scenarios- Building on the “step back” concept, marketers need to be equipped with solutions to nurture prospects’ needs and concerns.
- Content Consumption Preferences- Marketers need a deep understanding of what buyers want to consume, to learn more about what buyers want and respond. “Every piece of data that you can get is going to help you and make you better,” Albee said. “Online consumption changes the way buyers want content.”
- Value- Meaningful messaging fosters credibility, and Rosenberg pointed to “branding in the new age.” If prospects trust content now, they’ll trust it going forward.
- Efficiency- Marketers must ensure that content is packaged for simplicity. “One of the things we forget about as marketers is that, just because prospects have some sort of problem they have to solve, they still have a job,” Albee said. “Their pate is probably already full.”
“Content marketing itself needs to be thought of as more than the provision of information designed to interest a specific person, Albee said. “Content mapping for marketing needs to be designed to actually create some sort of momentum and get them to do something (click on a related article for more info). Think about getting more time as more mindshare. The more time they spend with you, [the more opportunity to] extend what kind of engagement you ask for.”
For more content mapping strategies, view the archived webinar here.