The goal of content marketing is to create more leads, yet a lot of B2B marketing teams aren’t getting the conversions they would like. Why?
Because a lot of marketing content is created without being aligned to product. I’m not suggesting that marketing content should be product-centric, but you should be coordinating and aligning your customer-centric content with product themes, promotions and messaging.
Coordinating and aligning your marketing content with product themes, promotions and messaging achieves three main purposes.
If your content addresses a problem that your product solves then it should:
● Attract and retain people trying to solve that problem
● Describe your position to the problem in a customer-centric way
● Provide an opportunity to place a call to action and convert leads
Attract leads to solve a specific problem
Whether you are producing a blog post or writing a white paper, your end goal should be to attract people who are trying to solve a problem that your product addresses You may have other supporting goals like getting on the first page of a keyword or improving social engagement, but in the end those should lead to attracting more people that are trying to solve a problem that your product solves.
I recently wrote a blog post for a client who wanted to promote a new feature of their product. They sell a SAAS Agile project management tool and had created a feature that allowed users to run a Monte Carlo Simulation, providing the probabilities for when a project would be completed. The initial request was to just write a blog post about the new feature. I suggested that we instead write a post about the problem that the feature addresses and then offer a call to action to learn about software that provides the capability discussed in the post.
At first it seemed difficult to imagine how you could write a post about such a technical feature without addressing the product. To uncover the customer-centric topic we:
1) Determined who our target audience was
At the onset we agreed that our target audience was IT executives who were managing programs.
2) Defined what the feature does
We first explored what the feature did, running a Monte Carlo Simulation to provide the probabilities for when a project would be completed.
3) Defined the value of the feature
We then explored why this would be of value: it allowed executives to better predict the risk of missing their deadlines and to do something to avoid that risk earlier.
4) Defined the problem
Finally, we determined that the problem was that IT executives were managing too much risk. They didn’t have accurate insight into the status of their projects, although they have to make commitments to their superiors.
That led to a post about how to reduce Agile risk. The post described how the traditional method of estimating project deadlines was flawed and how running Monte Carlo Simulations provided executives with more safety in their estimations. Keep in mind that the product feature wasn’t running Monte Carlo Simulations but the capability to run them, so we were able to keep the post problem-centric and it ended up being a very popular post.
The article never mentioned our product or its feature, but we provided people a solution to their problem. There are ways to run Monte Carlo Simulations in Excel, so the reader didn’t need our tool to run them, although the tool does make it much simpler.
Describe your position to the problem in a customer-centric way
Another client uses monthly content themes described in a previous post, Title. They align their themes to their webinars. They have to book their webinar speakers out in advance so they choose their quarterly theme, book the speakers that are available and then align their content plan to that month’s webinar topic.
Recently they needed a guide/eBook that aligned to a webinar about Workforce Optimization in call centers. It was a requirement that the guide be about Workforce Optimization. Workforce Optimization is a new trend call centers are using that optimizes and automates when call center agents are taking calls, getting training and doing off-phone work. Basically it is about using technology to deliver training and off-phone work to agents when call volume is low and then place the agents back on the phone when call volumes are high. You can imagine the cost and revenue benefits of such a technology.
My client sells a SAAS solution to call centers that provides these capabilities. The webinar was going to be very technology focused, but it was being given by an industry analyst who people wanted to hear from. Our guides, on the other hand, were always very how-to oriented and problem-centric. It was a challenge to take such a technical topic that aligned so closely to our product messaging and turn it into a how-to guide.
We went through the four steps to determine an interesting problem topic, but this time we looked at the webinar as the product. We asked ourselves why someone would want to learn about workforce optimization.
1) Determined who our target audience was
Our ideal prospect was a VP of Operations of a Fortune 1000 company, with responsibility for call center operations, who wants to implement workforce optimization.
2) Defined what the workforce optimization webinar does
We explored what this workforce optimization webinar does; it provides guidance on workforce optimization best practices from an industry analyst.
3) Defined what the value of the feature is
We then explored why this would be of value, provided executives in charge of workforce optimization projects the most up-to-date information so that their projects would have the best chance of success.
4) Defined the problem
Executives needed to implement workforce optimization for the first time and didn’t necessarily and specifically know what steps needed to be taken.
This led us to the topic How to Build an Executive Roadmap for Workforce Optimization. The idea was that we would write a guide about the non-technical aspects of implementing workforce optimization. There was a lot of information available about the technology, but there wasn’t much information about the other aspects: people, process and change management.
Not by accident, the process we described in the guide closely aligned to the process customers used to implement our SAAS solution. We provided readers value; the guide covered how to prepare your organization for optimizing the workforce, regardless of the technology a company ended up using. But we were also, under the surface, explaining our position on how to best optimize workforces. If a reader became a lead, this early marketing content would align to the later sales messaging.
Provide an opportunity to place a call to action and convert leads
Aligning your content to your product makes it easier to create a funnel that steps ideal prospects from a problem-centric, top-of-funnel content piece to a Sales Accepted Lead. It ensures that your messaging is consistent whether a potential prospect is reading a blog post or a Sales Accepted Lead is viewing a sales presentation. Take the client that sells a SAAS solution to call centers. One of their monthly themes was agent attrition. You can imagine how high the turnover is in call centers, so this is a very hot topic. Call centers are very cost conscious and reducing turnover is a great way to decrease costs.
As before, we created a guide to reducing attrition and ran a webinar with an expert speaker. We also got a series of blogs by the guest speaker that were posted prior to the webinar. We placed the ad you see below at the bottom of each post and got a 12% conversion of blog readers that registered for the webinar.
The blog post was 100% problem-centric, attracting potential prospects who might be trying to solve that problem. The ad prompted them to join a webinar that went deeper into how to solve the problem. Then our inside team followed up to better understand the problem the prospect was trying to solve and, if it made sense, to discuss how we could possibly help them.
I hope this has inspired you to take a look at how closely aligned your top-of-funnel marketing content is to your product themes, promotions and messaging. At first it may seem that it takes a lot of planning to align your different marketing and sales content, but I think you’ll discover that it really just takes a little pre-thought about the intention of the content piece.
What other aspects of your marketing content are important to align?