How to Create Content for Every Stage of the Customer Lifecycle

Everyone’s talking about content as a foundational element of marketing these days. Like it or not, to successfully market your business, you’ve got to get into the content creation game, but only from a standpoint that it builds your business—get more leads and sales.

Content and Customer Lifecycle

Most content marketing research suggests that the adoption rate among marketers – both B2B and B2C – is around 90% or above. Pretty much, everyone in marketing is doing content these days… or are they? Aberdeen’s content marketing research, confirms that 92% of marketers report that creating high-quality content is either valuable or very valuable to their organizations, but only 52% of those marketers rate their execution as “effective” or “very effective.”

The problem is that businesses pump out content at such a ridiculous rate these days — and as that volume increases, more confusion about how it benefits the organization is bound to creep in.

That’s why at some point, companies must accept that they’ll need to view its production from a strategic point of view. See, the secret to getting more leads and sales with content isn’t quantity but intention. If you create content with the intention of it to address business objectives—create awareness, build trust, educate and convert—you’ll likely create an asset that provides a remarkable return.

In other words, you need content for every aspect of the customer life-cycle and the best way to employ this is to match different kinds of content with the customer life cycle.

So, your content-customer-life-cycle might look something like this:

Suspect Content – Everyone in your target market

When your target market is not aware or have top-of-mind awareness of your company, product, service or the benefit it offers, then the first objective of content is to simply build trust. Trust can be built through:

  • Blogs
  • Testimonials
  • Customer Reviews
  • Articles

At the heart of every transaction is TRUST and in general, trust is what’s in short supply. If more people trust you, everything else will fall into place.

There’s a really big gap between someone being aware of you (which is really hard) and someone trusting you, enough to invest in you or buy from you.

Prospect Content – Anyone who has taken action to solve a problem that you can assist them with

There’s an huge difference between awareness and action. Putting something in the world for awareness is useless if it doesn’t lead to taking action.

As the market begins to trust you and competition increasing in that market. Prospects will compare you on price unless you give them a differentiation….your unique process, your solution, your message and/or your approach. At this stage you need to you need to educate about that differentiation:

  • Special Reports
  • Information Packed Guide
  • Marketing Kit
  • Seminar

People want to be educated not sold. They will sell themselves if you just commit to educating.

Customer Content – A person or organization that has bought products or services from you

You’ve done all this work attracting and educating now show your customers how to get the most out of what they just bought. This builds loyalty and community.

  • How-to Information
  • New Customer Guide
  • Workshops
  • Q&A Sessions

This is were most organizations stop their content marketing but you should continue it if you want keep customers and create repeat sales.

Advocate Content – A person or organization that tells others and basically sells for you

The last stage of content that creates and keeps a customer is one that’s often overlooked. Ultimately, great content has the ability to help your raving fans spread the word, increase awareness, generate leads and convert prospects .

  • Referral certificate or coupon
  • Access to “behind the scenes” content
  • Customer appreciation events
  • Referable emails

Content creation is the hardest job these days, but when you plan your content with your customer life cycle in mind it pays off more often than not.

How to Deliver a Better Customer Experience to Your Customers

Organizing and leading a better customer experience across all touch points seems to be a mystery to many marketers. Just do a search on the topic and you’ll find little that’s helpful.

In my opinion, there are two reasons for this. One – marketers are given all the responsibility and blame but none of the authority or, Two – marketers fail to realize every possible way that their business comes into contact with a customer.

Everyone in the company (no matter the department) who comes into contact with a customer, other employees or a prospect must be performing a marketing function of generating awareness, building trust, educating, converting or they’re eroding the business.

Map ALL the Touch Points

One of the most useful and valuable tools your (or any) business can create is a Touch Point Map. The idea behind this tool is to use it to map all the ways your customers or prospects might come into contact with your brand and then go about making sure that each touch point is designed to create a better customer experience.

I’ve put together a list of seven touch points here, but it can vary a lot depending on your business.

  1. Marketing – Promote your educational articles, tip sheets, how to guides, seminars and benefits instead of products and services. Deliver flowers or cupcakes for no reason. Make asking for referrals a condition of doing business with you.
  2. Sales – Make the sales process easy and fun by choosing a relaxed environment to sign deals, educating with price guides, comparison sheets, or case studies, employing one-click buy options online or recommending similar products or services online with purchases.
  3. Service – Create policies and guarantees your customers love and want. Maybe a new customer kit detailing the who, what, when and how of your organization or a way to measure the results customers are getting.
  4. Educational Content – Why not educate your prospects and customers with videos, workshops or guides on how to better use or get more from their purchase
  5. Delivery – Create a certificate for your new business relationships. Ship your packages with partner coupons. Deliver your product on bikes or your software on usb drives.
  6. Follow-up – Have your CEO write hand-written notes of thanks or make it a point to measure the level of service every customer is getting
  7. Finance – No one likes getting the bill! Dress your receipts or invoices up with key marketing messages, new offers, and positive quotes. Add personal notes, jokes, or let a graphic designer loose to make your invoice a remarkable contact point.

All of the things mentioned above are examples of touch points that could enhance your customer experience and get people talking, but it’s the collective focus on the entire map that really creates remarkable results.

Publishing is the New Prospecting

Effective prospecting now requires that publishing content is part of the strategy conversation in almost every business.

The need to publish in marketing and selling activities has grown as today is more about being found—earning attention—and less about going out and hunting.

Prospecting has changed because buying has changed

When it comes to drumming up new business, the big challenge is always reaching the right individuals. In today’s buying environment, finding new prospects for your products and services, includes publishing content. Which maybe the most powerful  prospecting tool that can get attention, go out there and make a case for your business, offer proof that you can provide a solution, share facts and make a very specific offer or define the next steps.

The VIP Very Invisible Prospect

Today’s consumers and buyers are invisible until they’re ready to purchase. They don’t call up a company and ask for a brochure or wait for a salesperson to come calling. Today’s consumer and buyer does their homework online, asks their network for suggestions and essentially creates their own brochure.

Much of what you have to do to attract and be found by that consumer and buyer is publish educational content and it applies across the business in audience development, sales and even service.

Prospecting Through Publishing

Today’s organizations must be ready to publish and demonstrate solutions. Every organization should focus on the problems and desires of the prospect via publishing, participating in social media and conducting online and offline seminars.

When you develop a reputation for being helpful, useful and relevant through publishing, then you get invited to places where you have the opportunity to sell.

Any company that wants to get found online or offline, attract prospects and ultimately grow their business, needs to get serious and strategic about publishing the right content, in the right format, in the right place and at the right time.

Free eBook: How To Create and Keep Customers With Content

Say goodbye to content marketing jargon…and say hello to results

People always ask, “How does publishing content market and grow my business more effectively? How should we be creating content?”

How content markets your business (cover)

The answer to that question lies in all the time spent behind the scenes building a content strategy from the ground up. We realized early that on a strategic level, content must mean more than a blog post, status update or tweet. You must think about your content achieving a strategic business goal or objective. Building an asset to serve your business over time.

To share all that we’ve learned along the way, Indispensable Marketing is offering this free ebook to show you how we think and approach content marketing to generate awareness, build trust, educate and convert.

 

 

Gain exclusive knowledge from Indispensable Marketing on:

  • The true purpose of content
  • The difference between content and content marketing
  • 5 ways to use content to create and keep customers
  • Making content easier, faster and more effective

Download your free guide now and be on your way to getting more traffic, leads and sales!

 

 

Not Creating Educational Content Is Not An Option

In order for your business (especially for B2B organizations) to be successful in today’s marketing environment, you’ll need two things: a compelling product or service and a differentiated buying experience you own.

Many businesses are under the mistaken notion that if they just create a great product or service that is sufficient. It’s not.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for putting really compelling offerings out there, but here’s what every smart and profitable organization understands:

If you really want to create a better product, service or company, create a better experience and wrap it around what you actually sell.

This is where educational content lends tremendous power to any size business. You can create content that works as marketing (building know, like and trust) and that creates a better experience because you’re delivering independent value to customers with content before you attempt to make the sale.

In other words, in many cases how you sell is more important than what you sell.

An even bigger benefit is that your content differentiates you from the competition in ways that traditional features and benefits fail to in a cluttered marketplace.

Not an Option

Your web site, blog or central content hub must be full of educational content, articles and how-to information. The truth is the act of blogging itself does not matter any more, but the act of consistently creating content that educates, differentiates your buying experience and that is easy for search engines to find and index, easy to share, attracts links, creates a searchable and archivable body of work on a subject and will never be seen as inorganic or a violation by Google has never, been more important.

The Secret to Connecting with Information-Empowered Buyers

Today’s B2B and B2C buyers are invisible until they’re ready to purchase. With access to information on every topic imaginable in the palm of their hands (or behind the click of a mouse), they don’t call up a company and ask for a brochure or wait for a salesperson to come calling.

These savvy buyers do their own homework online, ask their own network for suggestions and essentially create their own brochure without ever revealing their interest and intent to sales and marketing teams.

This has become such a widespread challenge, that it has created an entirely new dynamic in which companies must “prove their value or make a business case” — not deliver a hard-sell — in order to engage with in-market consumers.

Below I share the secret to connecting with information-empowered buyers. In my opinion these have become the foundational sales and marketing tactics that will carry a company’s marketing efforts into the next decade:

Teach Over Hard Selling

You need to tell stories, share examples of other people’s success and start to paint a picture of how you can solve the customer’s problem. I feel with this approach, the trust barrier is removed. It’s a great way for information-empowered buyers to relate to you as someone who delivers value, without the exchange of money.

Some of the best ways to attract information-empowered buyers to you is to teach through workshops, seminars or articles.When you develop a reputation for being someone who can teach people, then you get invited to places where you have the opportunity to sell.

Offer Insight Over Information

You have read 300 times by now how important content marketing is.  But with all the hype and hoopla about content marketing, unfortunately it’s being interpreted as “create more content.” The information-empowered buyer doesn’t need more content, in fact they may be drowning in it. Add value by making sense of it.

Insight is more important than information. In fact, “If you have foresight, you’re blessed. If you have insight you’re blessed twice.” Tell the information-empowered buyer WHY all this information matters and WHAT information is the correct information. Add value, create clarity and the information-empowered buyer will perk up an ear.

Intense Focus Over Wandering Generality

Sales and Marketing 101 says that you focus on the problems and desires of your buyers and match those up with your content, product and service.

Simply said!!!

Takeaway

The BIG takeaway is that organizations must change the way they think and approach today’s information-empowered buyers – they must think more in terms of educating and less in terms of selling. B2B and B2C buyers are still looking for solutions, trying out new products and services, they’ve just changed how they go about doing it.

How Marketing Can Help Solve The Top Sales Challenges in 2015

The title of today’s post stimulates from a recent report “2015 Selling Challenges Study” from Richardson.  Richardson conducted a survey with field sales reps, senior sales professionals, and sales leaders to gauge what they felt would be their biggest challenges faced during 2015.

Salespeople say their top 3 challenges to closing a deal this year are:

  1. competing against a low-cost provider,
  2. creating a compelling case for change to avoid a “no decision”
  3. positioning competing value proposition.

These challenges actually reveal something greater, marketing and sales aren’t working collaboratively. These selling challenges are less of issue when there’s a culture of cooperation and integration within sales and marketing.

Sales and marketing must come together at the point where awareness and messaging connect.

Below are three marketing activities that I believe should be at the forefront of any attempt to solve the biggest challenge to closing a deal in 2015.

1. Competing Against A Low-Cost Provider

The secret here is take price out of the equation by offering a product or service with some remarkable and desirable element that can’t be compared. Until you can firmly offer a solid reason for why a prospect should buy from or hire you over the competition, you’ll compete on price.

When salespeople solution sell and respond to RFPs they basically make every business look the same and make price the primary issue.

Working your marketing team can help identify what service or product elements really nails the buyers pain-point or desire. Working together marketing and sales can communicate a unique way of doing business that will demonstrate a premium pricing value proposition.

2. Creating a Compelling Case for Change to Avoid a “No Decision”

Today you must prove your value, make a compelling case for why a prospect should change vendors or buy your offering.

Creating this compelling case may be the most significant piece for your salespeople. It can become a handy tool for cutting through the marketing hype and getting to reason why a prospect should trade their money for what your have to offer. It informs the buyer that you have a completely different way of addressing their challenge.

Your compelling case for change and to avoid a “no decision” should address the following in a seminar format, case study, marketing kit or any other marketing material:

  • A challenge, problem or desire that your customer has
  • An mental picture of what business is like when the challenge or problem is solved or desired fulfilled
  • The path that got them in this position in the first place
  • A call to action or change

3. Positioning Competing Value Proposition

One of the biggest challenges that any business faces in the area of marketing and sales is standing out from everyone else that says they do what you do or make what you make or provide what you provide.

The best way to create a competition crushing value proposition is to commit to sitting down with a handful of your best clients face to face or over the phone for about fifteen minutes and conduct an service improvement interview of sorts that may lead to some powerful propositions.

From your interviews you should have some key phrases, words, language used to describe your offering to work with to create a competition crushing value proposition.

The Number One Marketing Challenge Of Companies (No Matter The Size)

Recently, I’ve been getting asked, “what main challenge do I see companies wrestle with when it comes to marketing?”

I can say without hesitation that the number one marketing challenge of companies has to do with testing and measuring and adapting to the things that generate revenue, get sales and get cash — and making that consistent.

This is why I challenge business owners and organizations to think and approach marketing in a different way for better results, starting with discovering which segment of their customers they should really focus on to create a stronger business and then how to improve their messaging and lastly their reporting.

Shiny Object Marketing

From experience a lot of business owners and organizations get stuck in the shiny object (tactical) marketing. It’s especially hard with digital marketing. It’s not like the days of old when customers and prospects called when they wanted to buy. You just wrote it down on a note pad.

Now there are hundreds of different tools from emails, social media, websites, blogs, etc. It’s really hard for business owners and organizations to keep track of all of this. I mean every year, there’s a different tactic marketing experts say they have to add to their marketing toolkit.

So there’s a lot of shiny object distraction that keeps businesses from building a better marketing foundation for growth.

The Hidden Power of Mastering Marketing Fundamentals

From the leadership and management side of things, there needs to be a commitment back to the basic marketing principles. Too often, I’ve witness business owners and organizations quickly jump ahead to the new shiny thing, the tactical idea of the week, failing to get good enough at the important thing, first.

Even Targets new CEO Brian Cornell has publicly announced why his organization is taking a back-to-basics approach in order to ignite growth. [Video]

In my observation of the marketplace, the most successful business owners and organizations tackle this marketing challenge by spending time today learning and relearning basic marketing principles and finding ways to apply them today in the realm of a specific marketing initiatives.

 

The Ultimate Secret Of Successful Marketers That No One Talks About

Every CEO, Business Owner, VP of Marketing, Director … marketer essentially wants to know the one thing they can do to get massive results, the magic pill they can take, the one bit of advice from an expert that will turn the ship around.

Truth is, marketing is mostly a bunch of hard work, done consistently. However, there is one thing that every marketer can do that works  – the one ultimate secret to give your business a shot at success. Want to know what that is?

Develop strategic patience. Every successful marketer has this secret weapon. It takes a while for prospects to trust you, and if you change your marketing, media, and identity, you’re hard to trust. Success comes to those who begin with a plan, and have the strategic patience to move beyond the need for instant results.

The reason great marketing is so powerful in the first place is that it doesn’t manipulate, it persuades — it’s useful information, presented in an accessible, interesting way.

Discovering that takes strategic patience. More great marketing has fallen short due to impatience on the part of the marketer than for any other reason.

Your resourceful website might not do the job. Your aggressive direct mailings might not deliver as well. But your website and direct mailings, combined with your telephone follow-up, email newsletter, seminar, advertising, publicity and patience get the job done very nicely.

It’s your strategic patience that wins the award for the profits generated by your marketing.

So the secret in a nutshell is this…

It takes a special person to stay the course while marketing effort after marketing effort fails to hit home. It takes remarkable discipline to remain with the marketing program when instant results are not produced.

You must restrain from making changes in your marketing programs and develop the willingness to continue executing a marketing strategy despite the absence of quick financial strokes.

You must have more strategic patience than your competition.

Marketing continues to be a collision of business, science, art, and strategic patience. It works. But it rarely works instantly. That’s why the most crucial vehicle in that collision called marketing is your own strategic patience.

The 4 Core Elements of a Successful Lead Generation Strategy

I often get asked by business owners, organizations, franchises and associations which one or two or three marketing tactics have been the most successful for businesses or have the greatest results.

lead gen

 

Public relations, networking, referrals, and advertising are often the answers to that question, but the answers are different for each specific business and organization.

Today’s integrated lead generation program consists of always communicating, sharing information, and solving problems, all through an educational approach that blends the use of public relations, networking, referrals, and advertising.

Essentially, a lead is generated through information collection. That information collection could come as the result of a shopper sharing contact information in exchange for a coupon, or a person filling out a form to download an educational piece of content.

1. Public Relations

There are two kinds of PR: publicity (which is going to fade away) and there’s public relations which is story telling. Storytelling is going to get more and more important. A core principle of marketing is getting the word out about your business to your target market. In marketing there are many ways to do this. PR just happens to be the one that is powerful, credible and a low-cost (or no-cost) tool, but often underutilized by start-ups and organizations.

2. Networking

This is the only marketing tool you can count on in any economy. Networking with colleagues, strategic partners, vendors, reporters, customers, and local communities is a high quality way to increase revenues and share information, referrals, endorsements, and assist other people. The two cornerstones of networking you must master is the follow-up and differentiation.

3. Referrals

Generating referral can and do happen, by luck, but the more you can formalize the process or put a process in place to make them happen, the quicker you’ll realize increased sales through referrals. Generating referrals today can be easy, viral, organized, automatic and profitable.

4. Advertising

Most SMBs dislike advertising because of awful past results. Advertising works, it’s just that most of the creatives that produce or sales professionals that sell advertising don’t have a clue how to make it work. Your advertising must be highly targeted (focused on a target market), done at the right time (when ideal customers are looking for help) and in the right place (where they’ll find you). Successful advertising is goal-directed, focused on audience and message and sells not a product or service but action. Before you can begin working, you need a clear idea of the needs and attitudes of your audience and the action you want them to take.

The measure of any lead generation marketing program is the quality and volume of leads it brings in. By generating the right leads, you’ll queue up your sales efforts for success, and ultimately drive revenue for your business.

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