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Excerpted from our newest publication, The Definitive Guide to Accelerating the SMB Buyer’s Journey. Download it here.
It’s an inconvenient truth, but most marketers approach content reactively. When someone from sales says, “We need content,” marketing rushes to fulfill that request. Even if it is a nice piece of content, it’s sitting out there like an island, as opposed to being part of a comprehensive program or platform. At RSL Media, we advise our clients to think like publishers. That’s because publishers (or media companies) are service providers. People turn to publishers for information, in much the same way as you should want your SMB customers to turn to you for ideas and solutions to their business challenges.
Publishers are experts when it comes to engagement. They understand their audience’s needs, and they are able to produce content people seek out when they visit a site, buy a magazine, or turn to a channel. One of the reasons they can do this successfully is that they are guided by a mission, which is the purpose they serve for their readers. They want their target audiences to know what type of information to expect. It’s the same with content marketing.
DEFINE YOUR CONTENT MISSION
Just like the audience of a media property, your audience should know what to expect from your content initiatives. As you’re coming up with a mission for your content, answer the following questions:
- Who is your target?
- What do your customers need most?
- How do you define your target audience using both demographics and psychographics?
- What are you helping your customers do?
- What is the scope of the content?
Then, express your answers in a statement that acts as roadmap for your content creators to follow. Here are a couple great examples of what I mean. Read the mission statements below, then click on the links and look carefully at their execution.
American Express OPEN Forum: “OPEN Forum is an online community to exchange insights, get advice from experts and build connections to help you power your small business success.”
The Hartford’s SMALL BIZ AHEAD: “Visit Small Biz Ahead, powered by The Hartford, for the latest insights and advice to help you manage and grow your small business more effectively.”
Here are some examples of content that serves the reader and can align to particular B2B services:
|INDUSTRY||CONTENT TO HELP THE SMB…|
|Banking||Go from cash flow to cash flourish|
|Commercial Liability Insurance||Find the risks worth taking|
|Telecom||Leverage technology to create a competitive advantage|
|Travel and Hospitality||Hit the road, shake hands and win business|
On the other hand, you might decide to widen your focus, like American Express did with OPEN Forum, which covers virtually all SMB-related topics. Some of our clients have opted for this route, which makes more sense when your audience is comprised of several types of SMB executives and decision makers. It also works well when covering a wide range of topics is consistent with your editorial mission and goals.
We typically counsel our clients to “stick to their knitting,” meaning the topics should be related to the benefits of their products. A good example is QuickBooks Small Business Center, where the topics include accounting, taxes, cash flow and finance.
IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
The next step in setting a content strategy is to identify your goals. Some of the most common goals include:
- Prospect nurturing
- Sales enablement
- Brand awareness
- Widening the consideration factor
- Lead generation and acquisition
- Customer retention
- Partner communications
- Thought leadership
- Brand realignment
Your strategy may need to satisfy more than one of these goals, and your goals may change over time. Some may be primary and others secondary. For example, if you have content to nurture prospects, a secondary goal could be to use the content to upsell and cross-sell to existing customers. Your goals should also be qualitative, as well as quantitative.
During this phase of your content initiative, you should also determine what key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll be tracking. The Content Marketing Institute has a good discussion of appropriate KPIs for a variety of goals.
When content development is guided by a mission, content assets and marketing messages can reinforce one another to create increased value for both the brand and the customer. The whole of your content marketing program can become greater than the sum of its parts.
This article was excerpted from our newest publication, The Definitive Guide to Accelerating the SMB Buyer’s Journey. Download it here for more on how to develop a coherent, comprehensive SMB content strategy.
Does your internal content team need guidance on understanding SMBs or ensuring that the content they are producing will accelerate the buyer’s journey? RSL Media editor-in-chief services can give you the peace of mind and results you need. To discuss, set up a call by contacting Jessica Benavides.