Actionable information has replaced sales calls
Content or inbound marketing is all the rage these days- and for good reason. With incredibly expanded access to information a prospective buyer doesn’t need a sales call until they have qualified themselves. Nor do they want a sales call. What they want is actionable information. But everyone has different ways of finding, ingesting and evaluating information. Some like things concise and want the top-level view. Others dig into the details, while a visually oriented prospect may want infographics or video.
This is why consumer sites like Amazon provide extremely varied forms of product information on their product pages. But this approach is not limited to consumer or B2C content. B2B (business) content also requires providing access to a wide variety of content. The best way to accomplish this is to develop a content library strategy, one that considers all these different ways of consuming information. A content library consists of content that can be consumed in a variety of ways and media including long and short form text content, mobile content, content provided via an app experience, video across many platforms, slide decks, documentation, testimonials and reviews…this staggering variety of content channels and types is why a library strategy is so important. But what does a content library look like?
Multimedia, concise, in-depth, visual, auditory, wonky, top-level: The two uses of your content
Let’s look at a typical B2B content library for an enterprise, big ticket product or service. This kind of content set requires content that fulfills two basic but quite different requirements:
- Research content. Research content is the information required by a person or team who has been tasked with making a recommendation. It is used to build a comparison matrix of product options with pros and cons. In typical enterprise purchasing cycle, this information is used to choose the likely final contenders. Only after this content is assessed and finalists chosen, is a sales process initiated. The sales contact at this point is needed to fill in any gaps in knowledge and to assess what the seller will be like to work with over time.
- Decision-making content. Decision-makers are presented with finalists and summaries of why these choices are being recommended. A case or or against each is examined and there are likely trials, training, face to face meetings, and negotiation involved. The outcome is content used to determine a buying decision: pricing, terms, implementation and training issues, customer support, and any other information required to make an informed decision to buy.
This content strategy weaves together a variety of content types:
- Website content. Structuring this properly for the way users consume information online is critical. Read my Best Practices brief for details.
- Blog content. A catchall category that offers buyers and search engines a view into many aspects of the subject matter, buyer experiences, war stories, etc., all interlinked with the other forms of content listed here.
- White Papers. These get routed up to decision-makers if they are done well. Consider them research reports designed as buying decision ‘ammunition’.
- Case Studies. Critical to credibility, reputation, and as examples of how others have benefited from using your products or services. They are far more effective if created in partnership with an actual customer, rather than an example or an anonymized study.
- Press Releases. These must contain newsworthy stories to be most effective. Sounds obvious but the vast majority are not newsworthy. Press announcements of events or promotions, unless they materially affect the business and its customers, are not valuable press release material.
- Newsletters. Generally these compile the most recent month’s online content.
- Webinars. There is a formula for success with these denser information sessions. They can be presented as live events, adding urgency, then offered as recorded versions for consumption later. The compelling reason for attending a live webinar is the ability to participate in real time.
- Podcasts. Audio-only presentations and stories, interviews, and subject matter overviews, designed to be consumed while doing other work.
- SlideShare. This is a LinkedIn company where you can share decks on any topic. It is a remarkably effective way to get many views of your message from people looking for a solution, if done correctly. Unfortunately too many marketers simply post decks intended to go with a spoken presentation that don’t make sense on a standalone basis.
- Explainer Video scripts and animation production. As a rule these are under two minutes and stick to a specific message. They can be extremely effective because they are easy to digest, share, and appeal to those who prefer viewing to reading.
- Cornerstone Content. Once you’ve built a content library, you can create cornerstone content pieces designed to weave together related content that is more specific. Cornerstone content focuses to top level search phrases, then zeros into longer tail keyphrases. For a deeper look into cornerstone content see my article on its creation and deployment.
Multiple Publishing and Delivery Formats: Interlinking
As you build this library, working with writers, designers, video producers, and others, it is necessary to use an editorial calendar to determine when and where this content will be published. As each piece is created it is linked to others, both internal and external links, and, where applicable, it is offered to other media as guest content or authoritative articles, op-ed pieces, etc. This interlinking offers paths from one piece of information to others in context, paths that both buyer researchers and search algorithms can follow.
Because this interlinking and multi-media publishing is so critical, it is a key component of a content library strategy. Interlinking multiples the reach and power of each content piece as they appear across places like social media and search engine results, and as the linking helps build a stronger case for their message.
I offer B2B content writing in all these formats and can help you develop and utilize your content library strategy. Feel free to reach out with any questions. You can also see my portfolio of content library work and hire me through Clearvoice at https://clearvoice.com/cv/MartinEdic
Wondering how much effective content costs? Here’s a view into how professionals price their work. You get what you pay for!