A successful content marketing strategy is comprised of several key steps. Previously we have written about the importance of answering the right questions. And how to divide these answers into both “free” and “premium” (or “paid”) categories to get the best results.
The next step is to establish the path that a prospect should take through your content when making a purchase decision. This path is part of a “content map” that is designed to drive sales.
A Sophisticated Content Map
John J. Assalian, CEO of Viewstream once wrote a great article about creating a content map (see it here). He found this great study from IDG where “86% of people surveyed said that content affects not only how they feel about brands, but also the likelihood of taking the next step during a purchase decision.“
In his article, John’s focus was on defining content for each part of the sales cycle. He created a mapping the defines the stage of sale, the person you are targeting, the format of the content, the subject matter to be covered, and brings them all the way through to the desired outcome. This map is great, however, for some people it can be a bit overwhelming.
A Different Kind of Content Map
We have developed a different type of content map where we start with the notion of separating your “free” vs “paid” for content. Paid (or premium) content is content that you receive in exchange for something like a specific action or some new information that helps define the reader as a warm lead.
To define your map, start with these steps:
- Define the audience you are targeting
- Define the mediums to which your content will be published.
- Define the reason why someone would take a required action to read the content.
We call this bringing the prospect “inside the box”. People in the box have to do something that demonstrates real interest (e.g., provide information, share a message or schedule time for an online/offline meeting). Once a prospect is inside the box, there is a higher probability of closing the sale.
Here is our map:
Along the outside you see the mediums through which the content is published: blog, newsletter, social media and even sales people. It is important to include sales people in this map because when provided with the right content, a salesperson can more effectively communicate your core ideas (your free content) and present the opportunity to experience your “paid” content by scheduling a webinar or sending a white paper, etc.
In the map above you can see that we have placed promotions between the content and the box. Often times promotions are considered a function purely owned by direct marketers, however, a good promotion can quickly move the prospect into the box of “paid” content where they become a qualified sales lead.
In summary, when building a content map, you should consider the sales process and the audience. But more importantly, divide your content up into “free” and “paid”, then define the mediums to deliver it. If you can do this on a consistent basis, your content will start to deliver new sales opportunities.
In our next blog articles we will start to discuss the roles of content syndication and reputation management as part of your content marketing strategy.