In Part 1, we discussed the three decisions prospects make that convert them to customers:
In Part 2, we'll take a look at how we can create content that helps them move through the buying cycle by saying yes to each decision.
Decision #1: Is it worth meeting with you?
To move readers from our larger target market to a lead, we have to make them aware that we (a) exist and (b) that we have a solution to something they may or may not consider a problem…yet.
Joe Pulizzi, author of Epic Content Marketing, calls this brand awareness and reinforcement. “Content marketing is a great vehicle for [creating awareness of your product or service] as its organic, authentic, and a great way to…driv[e] engagement with your brand.”
Great tactics for this stage include white papers, articles, blog posts and infographics because they’re meant to educate our target market and establish us as credible, trustworthy and aligned to their priorities.
Decision #2: Is making the change worth the disruption?
This is a big one. Our leads are tired, busy, stressed, and battling near constant feelings of underachievement. When it comes to their job, they’re hardly aspirational because they’re struggling to stay functional. (That’s not a judgment—more a reality of modern life for most of us.) They’re naturally wary of any change that could add more complexity to their day-to-day or put them at risk of making a bad decision.
To convert leads to prospects, it’s our job to inspire them with visions of what they can change and achieve with our offering. But we also have to steep it in a healthy dose of reality by explaining how we make it easy—easy to implement, easy to learn, easy to use, easy to service, easy to upgrade.
(Strategic note: While it’s obligatory that your marketing strategy position your offering against competition, it’s also important to consider how to position it against the status quo. In many cases, the status quo may be your biggest competitor.)
Case studies and testimonials are a great tactic for this stage because it shows how other businesses solved this problem successfully (reducing our leads’ stress load since they no longer feel like they’re blazing a new trail). Other tactics that work here help leads get familiar with your offering. These include demos, webinars/teleseminars, online tours and free trials. Ultimately, you want content that lowers the perceived risk your lead associates with changing to your offering. Increase their comfort and confidence that making this change is the smart and best decision.
Decision #3: Are you the best fit?
This is the question that converts prospects to customers (and it’s a question most marketers are familiar with answering). At this stage prospects are aware they have a problem worth solving and that you (and a lot of other vendors) have a solution. So, what makes us their best choice?
At this stage, differentiation is key. If you don’t successfully set yourself apart, prospects will start using price to differentiate you (something to avoid unless that’s key to your positioning and even then it shouldn’t be something your prospects default to due to content shortcomings). Or they'll de-prioritize the issue to avoid making a decision because they can’t suss out a clear winner. All your content efforts up to this point will contribute to your differentiation, but here’s where you move from content to copy. Showcase—and support—your USP along with other pre- and post-sale benefits you offer like training, migration or implementation support, customer events, resource access and more.
Tactics here shift a bit from content marketing to traditional marketing to include product collateral (electronic or print), PowerPoint presentations, and microsites. This is a sales-heavy stage, so if you’re not sure where your content outages are, ask your sales team. And don’t disregard the cumulative effect your content marketing efforts have on this decision as well—consistently valuable content goes a long way to helping you stand out.