The need to produce content in marketing has grown so foundational that you can’t really get through a day without hearing about it, reading about it, and perhaps stressing out about it.
Marketers are beginning to think and act more like publishers and are producing, curating, and repurposing content like never before. Really smart marketers are snapping up journalists as key members of their marketing teams.
But, if marketing content is to become the essential element that it must become in your business, you need to view its production from a strategic point of view.
You may indeed need more content, but you certainly need content that addresses every one of your base business objectives and you need to view the editorial calendar of sorts in this strategic light.
In other words, you need content for every aspect of the customer life cycle and you need to stage that content in something I call the Marketing Hourglass™.
The hourglass acknowledges the fact that your job as a marketer is to get someone with a need to know, like, and trust you and that you then need to plan to turn that know, like, and trust into try, buy, repeat, and refer — and that each of these stages must address a prospect’s evolving relationship with your organization.
In other words, you need to plan to walk with someone that comes to know about your business all the way down the path to where they become a fan and volunteer member of your sales team.
One of the best tools in the hourglass arsenal is content.
One of the best ways to employ content in a strategic manner is to match different kinds of content with the stages of the hourglass and customer life cycle.
So, your content hourglass might look something like this:
The key element here is blog content created on a narrowly defined set of keyword phrases and topics. One of the best ways to become known is through organic search. This phase would also include advertising that draws awareness to other, more advanced forms of content such as eBooks and seminars.
In many businesses a referral introduction is the first exposure that someone gains to an organization. This calls for content that is geared towards this type of exposure and specifically acknowledges your referral process.
An eNewsletter can be a tremendous content tool for nurturing during the like and trust building phases as it allows you to demonstrate expertise, knowledge, resources, and experience over time.
A series of blog posts around a specific topic turned into an eBook or email series is another great content play that helps tell your story.
Once you’ve gained attention you must move towards that all-important next step. We will buy products we simply like, but we’ll rarely commit to organizations unless we trust them.
Your customer generated videos, case studies, and stories make great content here. Your SEO efforts (others trusting and linking to your content) and Social Media participation comes into play in the trust phase.