Five Steps To Implementing A Content Strategy

Your potential BTB 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 a recent survey GlobalSpec conducted on the "industrial buy cycle," 83% of buyers review up to three pieces of content before making decisions on purchases under $1,000, while 70% review four or more pieces of information on purchases greater than $10,000.

This data suggests you need a library of 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 educational, helping prospective buyers do their jobs better. Offering good content to your prospects helps you gain an advantage over competitors.

To provide useful content, you need 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 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 of the products and services his company purchases.
  • The analytical buyer wants to know if the product under consideration can solve the problem at hand.
  • The technical buyer is interested in how well the product works or fits within his or her technical environment.

2. Conduct an audit of existing content. The good news is that you already have content. Compile and organize information 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 the needs of your audience, and you know what materials you have -- and what you don't. Now decide what your most pressing content needs are and put together a development schedule. This is important to prioritize, since you won't be able to do everything at once.

Maybe you're short on information aimed at economic buyers. If so, create an ROI calculator. Maybe analytical buyers don't understand your novel approach to problem solving. 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 something new for use in multiple media: a white paper that becomes a Webinar that becomes a video, for example. Or a technical article repurposed for a conference presentation that also morphs into a series of blog entries.

You're likely to need additional resources, either company contributors or outside writers. Line them up and plug them into your content schedule.

4. Publish new information. The vast majority of industrial buyers are looking for online knowledge, and that's where you should focus your publishing efforts. Get everything up on your Web site. Publish articles and videos on targeted sites such as GlobalSpec. Promote your Webinars and white papers through advertisements in industry-focused e-newsletters. Give presentations at online events.

Publishing content on sites your audience visits is reason enough to focus on online channels, but there is another advantage: you can measure and track your success. Page views, click-throughs, downloads, time spent online, and video viewings all can be measured. You can see what content is most popular (that is, 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. That means you must continually develop fresh content and update older information. This puts you back in the audit phase, where you catalog and keep track of online materials. Archive items that are no longer topical or relevant. Don't purge anything; you never know when you'll need an old white paper or article. The important point here is to have a system to track the lifecycle of your content. Keep publishing fresh material while taking what's old down from the shelves.

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