OK we admit, as a London agency we are not baseball experts, but we have a bit of experience creating content across customer journeys. In this article Ian Truscott outlines the five kinds of content needed to support a B2B buyer…
As marketers, we love a plan (or at least I hope so) and during our planning we love to create a matrix. However there is a risk of getting a bit lost as we create dimensions around buyer personas, journey stages, vertical, content types, channels, influencers.. etc.
Meanwhile in this digital and social media age, the buyers and influencers that make up a B2B procurement team pay no attention to buyer journey models, they will choose their own path and it’s often hard to address someone online with any confidence of knowing where they are in your funnel.
The world does not pause and wait for the perfect content plan and sometimes we need to just get moving.
Be agile, start simply..
The solution that will get you moving and ensure you address all the stages of the buyer’s journey, is to be agile, to start simply and create a solid content foundation.
This foundation should broadly cover the buyers journey and enable them to find the content they need, that you can then iterate on, build campaigns and then finesse the definition, delivery and execution.
Five kinds of content
In my experience you can boil this content foundation down to having five kinds of content; Energize, Enlighten, Educate, Evidence and Engage:
Should the buyer do something?
In order to stimulate the buyer to act, you need to be a bit of marketing of the problem you solve. This content highlights the challenges in your target industry, often short form blog posts, articles or infographics that are light, thought leadership in style.
This content is all about the buyer’s problem and not about you!
Is your brand, product or service relevant to the topic?
This content is longer form and explores the problem your company or product solves in more detail, connecting your brand and product with thought leadership around the high-level challenge.
The focus is still on the buyer and their problem, useful content that educates them on the trends and challenges. Examples would include sponsored research, whitepapers and longer blog posts.
How do you help the buyer with the problem?
This is where your company and product take centre stage and you are educating the buyer on how you solve the problem.
This content is intended for buyers who are now researching how to solve their problem, this is less flowery thought leadership and more facts about project delivery, product functionality and the experience of solving the buyer’s issue. At this point the buyer could be comparing solutions, it’s important to make differentiation clear.
Have you done this before?
Yep, you guessed it, case studies, video testimonials and references.
Don’t have those? Then anonymized case studies and customer stories will bring the story to life. You need to build trust and reassure that you know what you were talking about in the “Enlighten” content and delivered what you said you would in the “Educate” content.
What are the next steps?
This isn’t really a type of content, but a call to action (CTA).
When planning all of this, you need to have a clear goal of where we are leading this buyer and how they, now fully engaged and believing you have the answer to their problem, get in touch with you.
Where this interfaces with the content plan is in considering which CTA will work with which content. If you are talking about a product, then the appropriate CTA might be a registration for a demo or free trail. If it’s a thought leadership piece talking about a topic, then “contact us to learn more” would be appropriate, the important thing is that this is in the plan.
Using the model
To resonate, the story you are telling needs to sit coherently and consistently across these content types, having random acts of content in each of these boxes is not the objective, but there should be a theme running through.
This is also a really good opportunity to better leverage the content you already have, repurpose it across each of these types.
One approach, could be to start with Enlighten content, this is the hero “outside-in” content, that you’ve probably invested some time or budget in and then work outwards and develop Energize content that brings the buyer toward this content and then guides them to your CTA.
Energize << Enlighten >> Educate >> Evidence >> Engage
For example you have a fantastic branded white paper that talks about how to solve a specific business challenge.
From this you develop 10 Energize pieces; short form posts, statistics and infographics that highlight the business problem.
You then move downstream and connect this research to the relevant Educate content, the product information that shows how to do this and then the Evidence, the case studies and testimonials that shows that you can.
Using this model, not only can put your good content to work, you can quickly start to audit your existing content for relevancy, get a feeling of where you have weaknesses in your content plan and focus your budget and resources on the gaps.