First, let’s agree on what we mean by content. Content is often taken to mean something that can be distributed electronically: web copy, emails, articles, white papers, videos, infographics. A more expansive definition (and I think more appropriate) adds all forms of marketing communication e.g. print, ads.

conversation
Content Is Conversations

Either definition - while descriptive - inhibits the production of great content strategy.  I prefer to think in terms of conversations. I find that it is easier to generate effective content when I picture myself actually talking to a real person.  I believe this simple step is more than semantics because it moves the focus from what needs to be produced to what a particular person wants to listen to or read, or watch. It changes the perspective from impersonal to personal and that is what makes for effective content…  I mean conversations.

1.     What conversations do we need to have? This tells us what topics we need to address.

2.     When does each conversation naturally occur? This tells us the timing or the stage when we deliver our content?

3.     How do we deliver it? This tells us at what location (web site, social media) and in what form (infographic, video) we deliver our content and provide our part of the conversation.

Why have a content strategy?

Let’s start by stating the obvious, but easily forgotten purpose, of content strategy: to encourage them to move through their buying process with you. Therefore each piece of content you produce should be part of a conversation that encourages the prospect to the next step. The purpose is the same for new prospects, past customers, upselling or cross-selling.

Forget this goal, and you will waste a lot of time struggling with what to create and justifying your ROI on the effort.

Zero to content strategy—fast!

zero to sixty
Zero to 
content strategy
Fast

The place to start is by looking at the conversations your company has every day.

I like to start by working backward from the typical conversation where the prospect makes the decision to buy. If, for example, prospects require a meeting before they buy, examine the conversation that gets them to participate in the meeting? In reality this conversation may occur over one or more interactions on your web site or it may be the result of a special report you provide them or any number of interactions.

What conversation do you have with your prospects where you naturally ask them for a meeting? Answer by considering the questions, concerns and fears that need to be addressed in order for them to want to participate in a meeting—this is the content you need to develop for that step.

Now knowing what you want to say, it is easier to answer question 3, how and where to say it. Consider delivering the same content in different formats. For example, reformatting content from a successful speaking engagement into a web download (or a sequence of emails) may deliver prospect meetings through both formats.

Repeat the process for each conversation preceding the last one. If you get stuck jump to the front with the first conversation; the first bit of content that the prospect consumes from you. What topics are interesting to your target prospects? How can you start a conversation? With the conversation started what’s the next logical conversation after that?

soldRepeat the process until you have a complete path from lead to prospect to customer. 

Other points to consider

·       Each piece of content should not ask for an order but if it doesn’t you should be very clear as to why and how it fits into the prospects process. Ignore this and you will end up with wasting your time producing ineffective content that never sells a dimes worth of your products.

·       Buying is a process, it occurs in predictable stages. Your content should address the conversations prospects want to have at each stage.

·       It’s not uncommon for a prospect to pause in their buying process. They may be waiting for budget approval for example. During that time, develop content that allows you to stay in touch with the prospect until they are ready to move forward.

·       Answer the questions from the context in which the conversation happens. Am I the first person they have spoken with about the subject so they are early in their buying stage? Are they close to making a decision so they are anxious about the consequences of making a bad choice? Have they made a decision to buy and now they are just comparing vendors?

Contact us, if you would like help creating a content strategy for your business. Using our content marketing process (CTA mapping) we are able to go from zero to content stratgegy in two meetings.