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At last week’s MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston, Michele Linn and I hosted a content marketing roundtable. One participant asked how her company can determine when it has produced enough content. The answer: when it has created content that answers prospects’ questions at each stage of the buying cycle.

Start with Buyer Personas

So how does an organization go about doing that? It starts with understanding who its ideal buyers are and what concerns and issues they’re facing. And the exercise of creating buyer personas can help get at those details. Buyer personas are often used to create an archetype of your ideal customer based on what you know of your current customer base and prospects.

You want to get inside the heads of these buyers and understand what makes them tick. To gather this information, talk to your customers and customer-facing personnel; conduct polls and surveys of your customer base; and monitor the online conversations that your prospects and customers engage in, such as on Twitter, blogs, and LinkedIn groups. In a previous post, Michele listed many of the questions that you’ll want to answer as you develop your personas. One of the critical ones is “what questions does this person have at each stage in the buying process?”

Map Content to Prospect Concerns

Now you can create a grid or spreadsheet that maps questions and concerns of each buyer, in that particular stage of the buying process, etc. Each buyer concern or question represents an opportunity for content. However you choose to define the buying cycle, make sure you have substantial, valuable content that speaks to each stage. Don’t forget to create content that helps nurture the relationship with existing customers, represented in the table below as the “Loyalty” column. Your customers have different questions and concerns than your prospects; if nothing else, they want to understand how to extract the most valuable possible from your product or service that they’re using.

content-map

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then you can start creating or finding content to fit the specific need of the buyer at that stage. You may want to conduct a content audit to see which of your current content you can use and to figure out what’s working well with it.

Remember that people have different learning styles, so consider developing content in multiple formats to address each style. Also keep in mind that your content is largely taking the place of the interactions your sales reps would normally be having with prospects. Because of that, it’s critical that each piece of content include a call to action that points buyers to the next logical piece of content. In other words, your call to action should guide the prospect further along the buying cycle.