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Five Steps for Developing Your Content Marketing Plan
How expert are your customers at buying your type of product? And what are you doing to educate them? A consistent educational content marketing strategy is the best approach to differentiate your company as a trusted advisor and ultimately increase revenue.
Over the next few minutes, we'll develop a planning matrix to help you develop your content marketing plan with these five steps:
First, define your customer lifecycle stages
At the highest level, every company has two customer lifecycle stages: Customer acquisition, and customer growth. In the customer acquisition phase of the lifecycle, educational content builds rapport and trust. It creates interest and sets buying criteria. The result is a shorter sales cycle, higher revenue growth, and lower cost-of-sales.
In the Customer growth phase, educational content builds value and loyalty. It reinforces best practices and accelerates customer adoption. The result is higher customer retention, cross-sell / up-sell revenue growth, and higher margins.
Your company has its own unique way of breaking down these lifecycle stages further. For illustration purposes, here is an example for our planning matrix:
Awareness -- In the awareness stage, buyers are beginning to recognize pain points affecting their business. They build a business case for removing the pain.
Evaluation -- In the evaluation stage, buyers are researching possible types of solutions, establishing buying criteria, and evaluating specific solutions.
Selection -- In the selection stage, buyers are performing due diligence on the preferred solution, and making the purchase.
Adoption -- In the adoption stage, the new customer is implementing the solution, training staff, and begins seeing a positive return on their investment.
Growth -- In the growth stage, customers are expanding the use of the solution, purchasing add-ons, and renewing or repurchasing.
The second step is to identify your buyers' key information needs in each stage
Buyers have different information needs in each stage of the customer lifecycle. Your challenge is to map these information needs accordingly. For each of your company's lifecycle stages, list the questions, comments, and concerns that you hear most frequently. Listen closely to your sales team. They're on the front lines every day.
Next, categorize the answers by topic area
You will find that the answers coalesce around several topic areas. For example, you may find that a number of responses relate to the trends occurring in your market, or maybe to "proof points." The former could become the topic of an e-book and webinar series that address the trends in their industry. The latter might be addressed by a series of video customer success stories or industry analyst reviews.
The fourth step is to audit your current information assets
Your current assets might include blog posts, white papers, and other information. Map each of these to your topic areas. Some will address more than one customer lifecycle stage. Now you can see the gaps you need to fill with new content. How do your buyers prefer to consume content at each stage? Depending on your market, you may also need to engage buyers with multiple media, such as an e-book, podcast, video, webcast, virtual event, etc.
Finally, create and execute your content editorial calendar
For many organizations, creating the content editorial calendar is the critical bottleneck: There are more content requirements than there are people available. In many cases, executive management can establish priorities to ensure the right people are assigned and accountable. In other cases, the content development calendar must be achieved through outside resources.
There is an adage that says 97% of potential buyers are not in the market to buy immediately. An educational content marketing program walks those buyers into and through the buying process. It is the best way to educate, inform, and motivate your future buyers.
The bottom line: If you don't educate buyers, your competitors will. A consistent educational content marketing strategy is the best approach to differentiate your company as a trusted advisor and ultimately increase revenue.
Marcom Productions (http://www.marcomproductions.com) helps technology companies turbocharge their marketing performance. Point of View is a presentation of Marcom Productions.