Content marketing has become a vital component of the overall marketing mix; in fact, up to 33% of marketing budgets are now being spent on content. On top of this, conversions are dropping – according to ComScore, “clickers” represented only 16% of Web users in 2009, compared to 32% in 2007.
So if everyone is offering content, and there are fewer buyers, then clearly content on its own is not enough to differentiate you. You can produce all the content in the world, but if it’s not relevant to your prospects and customers, it’s just noise.
But when you fully engage with prospects, and take the time to understand their mission, goals, and values, then the content you deliver will ultimately be that much stronger. Your ability to align your marketing expertise with the customer’s needs becomes your key differentiator.
Some prospects might have a very clear vision of what they want; in that case, lucky you, they just made your job easier. But more often than not, it’ll be up to you to help customers streamline their content goals. They may not always be able to sum it up in one tidy sentence; it requires personal interaction on your part, to understand their priorities, what they want, and what they need. This interaction can and should occur across multiple channels – phone calls, e-mails, Web sites, sales.
Of course, these efforts might require more commitment during the early part of the sales cycle than you’re used to. It might seem like a lot of effort, without any guarantee of a close. But in making that commitment, you’re showing the prospect that you’re not just shoving them into a queue and creating some generic marketing fluff – you’re demonstrating your commitment to providing the best content for them.
It might take longer to close the sale, but an engaged prospect – one who is confident that you can deliver content that speaks directly to what he or she needs – becomes that much more likely to sign on the dotted line.And the more qualified, more sales-ready leads you can deliver to your sales force, the better.
eDynamic has identified four steps to successfully engaging clients in order to deliver content that meets and exceeds expectations:
- Employ a closed-loop engagement cycle: Build a profile of the prospect; analyze it; and respond to the prospect in their language.
- Characterize prospect: Properties include buying cycle state and segmentation parameters.
- Develop content to align with the prospect expectations: Content that speaks directly to the prospect profile, with a consistent message.
- Automate the closed-loop prospect engagement: Use a content management system and marketing automation platforms to automate the engagement cycle, creating an effective process for engaging all future prospects.
Know your Prospect, Deliver Value
Without intelligence – learning about the customer, establishing a high level understanding of what their digital footprint is and should be – you’ll deliver one of two things: Either typical, unoriginal content; or content with a piecemeal, fractured, inconsistent message. But when you’ve put the time and effort into engaging and understanding your clients, you’ll deliver original content, uniquely suited to that customer’s needs and priorities, which will help you stand out in a crowded marketplace.