One of your goals as an industrial marketer is to provide prospects with useful, relevant 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 content is usually educational rather than sales-oriented in nature, fits different types of prospect needs at various points in their buying cycle, and can take many forms: white papers, data sheets, videos, Webinars/Webcasts, case studies, ROI calculators, and more. To provide this level of depth and relevancy, your company should have a content strategy. Developing a content strategy requires a continuum of steps that includes analyzing your audience, determining content gaps, creating content, delivering content, and ongoing content management. Let’s look at each step.
Analyze your audience
Planning your content needs starts with analyzing your audience. You should understand who your customers are, how they make buying decisions, and what type of information they need.
Even if your company sells only a few types of products, your customers’ buying behavior can vary widely. Typically, there are three different types of buyers, all of whom might be involved in the purchase decision. You will likely need content to meet the information needs of each of these buyers:
• Analytic buyers are concerned about whether the product being considered can solve the problem they face.
• Technical buyers care about how well a product works or fits within their company’s technology environment.
• Economic buyers are focused on achieving a return on investment for their purchase.
Determine gaps in content
Once you understand your audience, it’s time to assess your existing library of content and how it matches up to your audience’s needs. You probably already have a lot of content: Web pages, PDFs, white papers, presentations, case studies, perhaps some videos and Webcasts and blog entries.
Compile and organize all of your content and map it your analytic, technical, and economic buyers. What’s missing? It could be a lot. Plus, you may have new initiatives on the horizon and new products coming out. You’ll need to develop content for those as well. This is also a good time to archive any content that is out of date or no longer relevant in terms of messaging or positioning.
Create new content
You may have a long list of content you need to create. The good news is you don’t have to tackle it all at once. Prioritize the most important pieces that need to be created. There’s a good chance you can re-use or re-purpose some existing content. For example, maybe you can re-purpose a technical white paper into a best-practices brief or a series of blog entries for an analytic buyer.
Here’s another example: if you’re short on content for the economic buyer, consider creating an ROI calculator or customer case studies or video testimonials that talk about financial benefits. For analytical buyers, try a white paper that explains your company’s innovative approach to solving a customer problem.
You may need to harness additional resources to create content. Either recruit some team members or hire freelancers who have expertise in your subject matter.
Deliver content to your audience
Here’s where your marketing acumen comes into play. You probably already know that the vast majority of industrial buyers go online to find content, and that’s where you should focus your publishing efforts:
• Post all content on your Web site
• Place articles, white papers, and videos on industrial sites such as GlobalSpec
• Promote your Webinars and white papers through advertisements in industry-focused e-newsletters and to your own in-house e-mail lists
• Give presentations at online events
Manage content moving forward
One advantage of publishing content online is that you can see how popular it is with your audience by tracking page views, click-throughs, downloads, and time spent viewing videos. Create more content like the most popular content; archive the duds.
You’ll also want to come up with a simple system such as a spreadsheet to track all of your content. Add fields to your spreadsheet for audience, format (white paper, video, etc.), publication date, metrics on popularity, expiration date (if there is one), and anything else that would be useful to know. Place content that becomes out of date or is no longer relevant to an archive—you might be able to re-purpose or use some of it later in new materials you create. Then, at least once a year, start over with an analysis of your audience and continue through the content strategy steps.