Your potential customers want access to content that helps educate them, improves their decision-making capabilities, and increases their confidence level in their final purchase decision. According to the GlobalSpec Industrial Buy Cycle Survey, 83% of buyers review up to three pieces of content before making a decision on purchases under $1,000, while 70% of buyers review four or more pieces of content on purchases greater than $10,000.
This data suggests you need a library of content including brochures, specification sheets, Webinars, e-newsletters, white papers, application notes and more to help make your case. But the content shouldn’t be sales-oriented; it should be education-oriented, helping prospective buyers do their jobs better. Providing good content to prospective buyers helps you gain an advantage over competitors.
Providing useful content requires you to have a strategy for developing and publishing content that your potential customers will consume with great enthusiasm—to their benefit in terms of making informed purchase decisions, and to your benefit in terms of earning new sales.
Make sure someone is in charge of developing and managing content in your company, then follow these five steps to develop a strong content strategy:
1. Analyze your audience
There are generally three different types of decision makers involved in the buying process, and you should have content to meet each of their needs:
- The economic buyer is concerned about return on investment in the products and services their company purchases
- The analytical buyer is concerned whether or not the product under consideration can solve the problem at hand
- The technical buyer is concerned about how well the product works or fits within their current technical environment
2. Conduct an audit of existing content
The good news is that you already have content! Compile and organize content such as Web pages, brochures, presentations, data sheets and videos in one place. Map your content to the types of buyers you have: economic, analytical, technical. Conduct a gap analysis to determine what’s missing from your existing library. Add in new products/initiatives coming to market in the next year. You’ll likely end up with a long list of content needs. Don’t despair.
3. Prioritize needs and develop new content
You know your audience needs, you know what you do and don’t have. Now decide what your most pressing content needs are and put together a schedule for developing it. You want to prioritize content development because you won’t be able to do everything at once.
Maybe you’re short on content aimed at the economic buyer. In that case, create an ROI calculator. Maybe analytical buyers don’t understand your novel approach to solving a problem. That might call for a white paper. You need more visibility and authority in the market: start a blog. Also, consider re-purposing existing content or creating new content for use in multiple media. The white paper that becomes a Webinar that becomes a video, for example. The technical article that becomes a presentation at a conference that becomes a series of blog entries.
Developing new content is the one step where you likely need additional resources, either other contributors from your company, or outside writers. Line them up and plug them into your content schedule.
4. Publish new content
The vast majority of industrial buyers are looking for content online, and that’s where you should focus your publishing efforts. Get everything up on your Web site. Publish articles and videos on industrial sites such as GlobalSpec. Promote your Webinars and white papers through advertisements in industry-focused e-newsletters. Give presentations at online events.
Publishing content where you audience is looking is reason enough for concentrating your efforts on online channels, yet online offers another advantage: you can track the success of your content. Page views, click-throughs, downloads, time spent online, and video viewings all can be tracked. You can see what content is most popular (i.e. relevant and useful to your audience)—and what content is a dud.
5. Update and archive
Your audience has an almost insatiable appetite for useful information. Which means you must keep developing fresh content and updating old content. This puts you back in the audit phase, where you catalog and keep track of all your content. Content that is no longer topical or relevant should be archived somewhere—don’t purge anything permanently; you never know when you’ll be looking for that old white paper or article. The important point here is to have a system to track the lifecycle of your content and to keep the fresh content published for your audience while taking what’s old down from the shelves.