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The Pillars of Your Content Marketing Plan

At the beginning of any content marketing plan meeting, there’s usually a sharp writer with some great ideas about what whitepaper or case study should be used as the first big piece of content to be run up the flagpole. Usually, they’re right. Still, it’s called a plan for a reason, and a single piece of content is unlikely to generate the long-lasting lead generation and nurturing we’re going for.
If you’ve been paying attention to this space, you’re probably thinking here’s where I wax philosophical on brand, and you’d be one-third correct. During a proper brand audit, we learn both the style and distinction of who we are and what we’re doing, and those qualities will become the cornerstones for everything we do moving forward.
Still, there are two other components that need to be fully fleshed out prior to putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard in a content marketing plan, and these are the issues of buyer personas and sales cycle.
Most companies readily acknowledge that for all intents and purposes, our customers can often be lumped together in categories. Whether it be the products they buy from you, or the verticals these customers come from, the fact is that commonalities exist. The creation of buyer personas allows your content marketing to speak directly to these commonalities.
Many of our clients do business in both the b-to-b and b-to-c space and there’s no greater distinction than how we buy products as consumers compared to how we make purchases for our business. Your content marketing needs to reflect that, so that the tone and components of the content line up with what those particular buyers are seeking. And depending on your business, you may have different verticals underneath those rather general categories. Point being, that great case study you thought up might need four slightly different variations depending on the audience and could be entirely irrelevant to certain segments of your customers.
With your personas in place, however, it’s also vital to look at sales cycle. We want to make certain of two things; first, that you have enough content to support your consumer through the evaluation phase and secondly, that the content can work to speed up the sales cycle.
When we ask about sales cycle, the vast majority of our customers say that it ranges from one day to more than a year. While there are always outliers, those types of numbers don’t help in this process, which is why we prefer to go with CRM data. When you look at the data, you’ll likely find that eighty percent or more of your customers go through a relatively predictable evaluation phase. Once you know the length of this phase, you can prepare a content marketing plan that supports sales throughout the evaluation process.
Armed with your buyer personas and knowledge of how much content you’ll need to create, now it’s time to pull out the keyboard and get writing.

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