Marketing Content on a Mission


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Last month, I led a Contagious Content pre-conference workshop at Marketing Profs B2B Forum. The marketers who attended were a great group – serious and focused on tackling best practices for content marketing to make a difference in their organizations.

At the beginning of the session, I asked them to each share what their biggest challenge was with content. Nearly 1/3 of them stated a challenge related to messaging. Some of their responses include:

  • Complexity of organization with multiple vertical messages
  • Relevance to prospect
  • Lack of simple and compelling message
  • Translation and distillation of message
  • Message is for a secondary, less important market

The marketers were targeting a variety of prospects – pretty much across the map – from engineers to educators to mid-level manufacturing managers and C-level executives. This challenge with messaging appears to be pervasive.

I’d recommend that B2B marketers stop and take a look at the mission assigned to their content as a way to identify how to shape it into something more valuable.

A content marketing mission is the responsibility your content has to achieve the goal you set for it. This mission in B2B is not generally accomplished by a Big Bang, but rather with a series of incremental, progressive steps that help a target segment get from A (status quo) to Z (purchase).

As you prepare for launch, these criteria should help you determine the likelihood that your content will complete its mission:

  • The core message is designed for a tightly defined target segment.
  • The message applies directly to priority issues identified during persona development.
  • The content delivers on the promise of the title and description used to catch attention.
  • The hook (reason for engaging) is at the beginning, immediately obvious.
  • Your products and the “leader” status of your company are not more prominent than the issue the content discusses.
  • The message intent is to answer a question the prospect might have if they were trying to solve a problem you’ve validated is a top priority.
  • The content has a call to action that makes sense to those who engage with it.
  • You can read the content out loud without running out of breath during sentences, losing interest or laughing hysterically – this is a key point.
  • Others – not involved in the message development – can do the step above.
  • The story you’re telling with the content helps the audience visualize how they can do/get something important to them.
  • The content offers opportunities for sharing it with others – and a reason to do so.
  • There are follow-on pieces that build the story you’ve started.

There are other criteria, but these should get you started. Now, let’s circle back to the core messaging. The way to tell if your content has a simple and compelling message is if you can read it and summarize it in one sentence that’s a statement of value for your audience.

Step into your audience’s shoes, read your content and then see if you can fill out this sentence:

From this content, I learned/realized/understand ______________ which will help me get closer to achieving __________.

It should be that simple.

Notice it’s nearly impossible to shove your products into those blanks. That’s intentional. The product isn’t the value – it’s what your prospect can do now that they have it that counts.

This said, marketers often think that “value” must be some big deal – like the answer to the universe. This is not the point. You won’t get enough mindshare or attention to answer “universal” questions with a content asset. Instead, think bite-sized insights. Think little flickers of AHA that build to that big deal. Each one that connects with your prospect provides value. Think snowball effect rather than avalanche.

It takes time for people to assimilate ideas related to change. It takes repetition and it takes consistency of storyline exposure that creates momentum.

We all want the sale. The way for B2B marketers to help prospects get there is to design the mission and then assemble the parts that – together – help prospects complete it.

Needless to say – if your content is on a mission that your prospects are not engaged in completing – your efforts will fail.

The mission for content must be designed to match the mission of the prospect. That’s the secret.

One persona or target segment.

One problem-to-solution journey.

One mission at a time.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and the CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create and use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Ardath is the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She's also an in-demand industry speaker.


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