The most critical success element in demand generation is your list. If you don’t reach the right person, nothing else matters. However, a close second is the offer – what you serve up to get a response. But developing that content can be the hardest part of a marketer’s job – it’s time consuming, hard to know where to start and often resources just aren’t available. Here are some tips:
- If your company hasn’t outlined the prospect journey and a story arc, complete one now. It’s not as complicated as you might think. Look at your objectives (meetings, sales, etc.) and then starting from the first communication until closed/won, think through what a prospect needs to hear from day one until they sign the deal. What are the pain points and what questions or objections consistently come up? Often a brainstorming session between marketing and sales will get an outline pretty quickly. You could even ask a customer or two. Don’t try for perfection – even a general outline is very helpful.
- Once the story arc is complete, note down what topic or title would address each pain point and use that to develop a rough content matrix. Don’t overthink it – just title and maybe 2 or 3 “what you will learn” bullets to for each piece.
- Stumped? Visit your competitors’ sites for inspiration. You can’t copy their content and you won’t be able to pull metrics on what works, but feel free to get inspired. Also, check out industry and tradeshow sites. What’s the keynote this year? What themes do in the breakout sections? Use those ideas too.
- Skip sales sheets, product sheets and collateral. While sales definitely needs and uses them, they are not demand gen offers.
- For top of funnel prospects, you want educational content. Later, once the prospect understands the benefits, it’s how to get started and tips on picking the best solution. Later when they’re ready to buy, case studies or how to get executive buy in. Here’s my usual list of content:
- 2 minute Video – a quick intro into what problems your company solves. This is particularly useful on your website and in your intro email
- Introduction to X – a guide on the pain point is your product addresses and the impact on companies like your prospects
- Dollars and Sense – an asset that covers the cost of the problem your product addresses and the ROI is of solving it
- A Definitive Guide – a full explanation of the problems your product addresses and best practices to solve those problems. (Bonus – this later can be broken into one topic cheat sheets and blogs.)
- Selling to the C-Suite – an asset that tells how to make the business case for your product
- Case Studies – videos, PDFs or blogs on how your customers are using your product and the return they are getting
- Pilot Guide or Implementation Checklist – If implementing your product can be intimidating, a guide can show customers how to prepare and why it’s easier than they think
- Work smart – not hard. You have titles, now look for the easiest way to develop them. Has someone at your company done a presentation that fits? Recycle it into a webinar. Then a blog. Then an infographic. Then use it as a chapter in an eBook. Have a blog that’s dead on? Make it a cheatsheet or infographic. Also, maximize the shelf life of what you develop. Don’t reference current events, sports or holidays.
- How much content do you need? If your sales cycle is short or your product can be bought with a click, you may need only 3 or 4 assets. If what you’re selling has a long decision process, you’ll need enough content for 6 months or more. For cross sell, upsell or retention, you might need even more. And it depends on your audience, but assume you need to reach out every two weeks to keep up momentum.
- If you don’t have the resources to write content, get outside help. My process is to write the promotional copy first – the “what you will learn”. Once it’s approved, I’ll outline the asset, then use a combination of interviews and research to get something editable to share with my clients. It’s not usually perfect, but by providing a document to edit, it gets completed pretty quickly.
- And once you have your content, don’t forget to track how it’s working. Analytics help you determine which assets are getting attention (and should be expanded) and which you should retire.
Need help with your content map? Let me know!