No brand strategy is complete, or effective, without customer-centric content. Why? Because buyers have changed and moved online. Most of you have heard that 70% of buying decisions begin with prospects researching solutions well before engaging in a sales process. Your prospects are searching for alternatives, educating themselves, and identifying a shortlist of solutions worthy of a closer look.
Getting on that shortlist is key. According to McKinsey, prospects are 3X more likely to purchase from brands/companies in their initial consideration list than purchase solutions discovered later in their buying cycle. As this list is typically narrowed before there is any human-to-human engagement with your company, your content needs to do a lot of hard work: attract interest, visualize success, instill confidence, and compel them to get you on that list.
Today’s content is digital and needs to be as helpful and personalized as the 1:1 pitch from a sales rep. It’s no longer a brochure on what your company does. It is a direct and authentic channel to inform how your solution can solve what is important to them. The best content helps buyers visualize a before and after picture. It compels them to then inquire how you do it.
Authentic channels content buyers favor early are: search results, social media posts, thought leadership, or advice from trusted peers. Then progressing through: your website, product or business reviews, blogs, podcasts, infographics, case studies, or white papers. These channels and content all need to inform, drive interest, and support your brand to your target audience.
Today’s growing companies understand the value of content. Not just to get on the list, but to build the foundation for the personal buying process and ultimately to customer advocacy. Brand and content go hand in hand in aligning expectations with actual customer experience.
The post-purchase user experience and the various materials they receive (i.e. training and user info, updates) are key to building brand loyalty, support recommendations to peers, and influence future buying decisions.
Back to content and its relationship to branding. The questions Shane raised in his brand strategy article also apply. And like your brand, it’s all about your audience.
- What is important to your intended audience? Your content needs to resonate with both your ability to provide a solution and the buyer’s broader context. How will purchasing your solution impact their role, their career, how their peers perceive them? Your content conveys confidence and pride as an advocate for your solution.
- How are you defining and communicating your brand’s purpose and promise? Remember the Six C’s: Your content in its various forms must tell a clear, consistent, compelling, and confident story of how you enable your customers’ success. Avoid making your prospects work hard to put your company on the top of their consideration list, or turn them off with chest-thumping and self-congratulation. Be all about them, their needs, and how you value them.
- Is your content focused on your value, differentiators, and expertise? Help your prospects advocate for purchasing your solution, and arm them with everything they need to confidently progress through their buying process.
- Are your customers supporting your brand? Do they play an active role in telling your story? Word-of-mouth is compelling, especially coming from a respected peer. Written “word-of-mouth” from a respected professional or social influencer can be nearly as good as an endorsement conveyed over a beer after work. Include them strategically in your content, and position them as the heroes they are.
- Is your content interesting and informative? Don’t make it painful to learn about you. Companies, like people, have a voice and personality. Make yours fit your prospects’ expectations, and your brand: fun/lively/effective; serious/professional/expert; creative/colorful/out-of-the-box. You get the idea. Be human.
From a sales performance perspective, your content’s role in its various forms is to attract, acquire, engage, and support a clearly defined and understood audience—to ultimately drive profitable customer interactions and build brand loyalty.
At Altus, we truly believe in the importance of the relationship between content and brand in driving sales performance. The Altus 21 High-Performance Revenue™ framework highlights both of these elements as core to a truly scalable and optimized revenue growth engine.