From The Editor | November 28, 2018

Content To The Beat Of A Different Drum

By Bill King

Content To The Beat Of A Different Drum

These is a lot of content being produced about well … content … these days.

Here on, we’re by no means the first and will undoubtedly not be the last to beat the content drum. But sometimes that’s what all this focus on content sounds like. A drum beat. Steady. Methodical. Constant.

Duh. Duh. Duh.

Content. Content. Content.

That consistency is one of the things that your content marketing strategy should prioritize. As supported by Jim Collins’ series of books, in particular Good To Great, a disciplined approach over time builds an evergreen portfolio of lasting content that expands your foundation of knowledge and thought leadership to make your market position impenetrable by others.

But where most of this literature falls short is in explaining the angle that each piece of content should take.  Too often the writer encourages you to keep the beat up and produce more and more content without teaching you who each beat is for.

The savvier advisor is recognizing that different content is required to entice buyers at different stages of the sales cycle. This is often referred to as the Buyer’s Journey. Most literature suggests that there are three to five stages in the cycle. HubSpot focuses on Awareness, Evaluation and Purchase linking those neatly to Top of Funnel, Middle of Funnel and Bottom of Funnel respectively.

Others divide the journey into four stages, generally grouped around the concepts of Awareness, Consideration, Decision (or Purchase) and Loyalty. In a more intricate model, Uhuru Network have extended the buyer’s journey stages to six, cycling through Awareness, Interest, and Consideration down to Purchase, Post-Purchase and Re-Purchase.

We have identified eight stages in the B2B buyer’s journey, with additional stages required after the initial Awareness stage before B2B buyer’s move into Evaluation. We define our stages as:

  1. Understand Issues
  2. Establish Objectives
  3. Set Strategy
  4. Explore Options
  5. Set Vendor Criteria
  6. Examine Alternatives
  7. Sign Contract and Plan Implementation
  8. Measure Results

In defining these stages, we focused heavily on the roles played by the different professionals who get involved in making complex purchasing decisions and the timing of when they get involved. Think about the water and wastewater market and it’s easy to see just how convoluted the sales cycle gets, with multiple players engaging at different times. Only by mirroring this complexity have we been able to help our clients arrive at appropriate story angles for each persona and at each stage in the journey.

What we’ve found is that most companies don’t struggle with the later stages in the journey where product-related content is required to help the contractor or end-user understand the specifications and applications of a manufacturer’s product. But companies are woefully short of content informing their potential customers on the issues that concern them and helping these entities establish and prioritize objectives accordingly.

As you plan for 2019, make sure you take a minute to evaluate your content portfolio. Think about the type of buyer who sets the strategy for your customer’s organization. Ponder what types of challenges she is up against. Or what are the workplace issues he is likely to face within the next 5 years. Then see how much of your content has been crafted to address those. 

If you’re not finding much, it’s time to dance to a different beat. Not a drum beat. A journalistic one. 

Image credit: "Old Wooden Djembe," Dejan Krsmanovic © 2018, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license: