Content Delivery Planning Overview
Imagine you’re given the task of promoting your product to a random person. Just someone who happens to be passing by on the street. You don’t know him. Nor do you know anything about him. Maybe he knows of your products. Maybe he doesn’t. Perhaps he’s not interested in what you’re selling.
You would probably strike up a conversation to fill in some of your knowledge gaps. Introduce yourself. Ask for his name. Find out where he’s going. In the course of the conversation, you’ll get a chance to work in the information about your products and sell him on them.
But what if you could answer some key questions first? Suppose, for example, he already knows about your product line. Perhaps he expressed interest in it before. Or maybe he doesn’t know yours, but he uses similar products on a regular basis.
You would approach each scenario differently in sales. So why not do the same in your content marketing? Technology today gives us hundreds of ways to collect and use data. So why not use it to enhance your content strategy?
The last two pieces of your content strategy will address this approach. And the first part of the answer is the when.
When to Introduce Part 1: Discovery
First, we have to establish a few phases that most customers will go through in their buying process. These same phases take place in most relationships and can be viewed in similar terms. I prefer to call these phases Discovery, Exploration, and Commitment.
In an ideal romantic relationship, the phases would look something like this:
- Discovery – Jeff meets Sarah. Jeff hits it off with Sarah. They exchange phone numbers and agree to meet again.
- Exploration – Jeff and Sarah begin going on dates. They start talking about things they’re interested in and things that drive them. They learn about each others’ personalities.
- Commitment – Jeff and Sarah realize they have enough in common and like each other enough to take the next step and get married.
However, the discovery phase often works a little differently and tells a story. Using Jeff and Sarah again, let’s talk a little more in depth about the relationship process, starting with discovery.
Jeff enjoys going to the gym to work out and shows up religiously at 6:30, after his dinner’s had a bit of time to set in. One day, a girl comes into the gym he hasn’t seen before. She’s fairly attractive and seems cheerful and upbeat.
Jeff doesn’t talk to her at first. But he notices her several more times as she continues to come to the gym. After a while, Jeff works up the courage to talk to her. The conversation goes well but doesn’t go further than that.
Over the next couple of months, Jeff and Sarah have several brief conversations at the gym. They begin to discover they have many similar interests in addition to their regular workout routines. They exchange phone numbers and begin to be present in each others’ social circles.
Of course, the phases also apply to any relationship. Every day you meet potential friends. If you meet somebody and decide to talk to them, you’ve taken step 1 in the process. It’s important to remember that discovery can, and often does, take more than a single meeting.
Prepared for Discovery
Now, we can honestly say that both of these discovery processes are real-life scenarios. In some cases, a relationship could start as quickly as hitting it off at a party. In many other cases, the discovery process involves several meetings before any serious conversation and relational development occurs.
Your content strategy, though, focuses on the second scenario. You expect prospective customers to take slow steps. You also plan for them to encounter your brand several times before exploring further.
Let’s look at Jeff and Sarah again. If Jeff didn’t go to the gym regularly, he never would have seen Sarah. They met when their habits brought them to the same place at the same time.
So that’s the entire purpose of your discovery content. It’s not to pull a customer in for the sale. You write discovery content to just be in the same Internet space as your prospect.
That means you have to be tied into your prospects’ interests. You must write your content to address what people are looking for. Remember, this is not a sales pitch. Content should be informative and helpful, and most importantly should answer the question the customer wants to know.
When to Introduce Part 2: Exploration
Once a prospect moves on to the next step, it’s time for you to tell him more about you. Every company has a unique personality. What’s yours? How do you approach your work? What kind of things have you done? Are you priced competitively for the value that you provide?
Imagine if Jeff and Sarah’s conversations always stayed the same. If they just talked about weights, workout routines, and techniques. And imagine if they only discussed general knowledge instead of their own personal workout routines.
Do you think their relationship would go anywhere?
Probably not. At best they would become gym buddies. But more likely than not, once they’d exhausted gym topics for the 10th time, they would get bored with each other and look for more exciting friends. And that would be it.
Now ask yourself why your customer should be any different. If he decides to take the next step and explore your company further, he’s going to want to see more than general expertise. And you need to be prepared to show him. If he takes that step and you just keep passing the same information he can get from your blog, for example, he’s not going to stick around.
So now is the time to let him know what you’re about. Give him some visibility into pricing and savings. Let him see some special offers just for people like him. Give him more information about you, and let your personality shine through.
Eventually, when he’s satisfied that you’re a good match for him, he’ll decide to commit to a transaction. And that’s where you get to phase 3.
When to Introduce Part 3: Commitment
The worst thing you can do after a customer commits to a transaction is to treat her like she’s still exploring. The way you communicate with a customer should be different than the way you communicate with a prospective customer.
Imagine if Jeff got through several dates with Sarah, and they decided to announce an engagement. But after the engagement, Jeff keeps proposing to her every date. How do you think that would go over with Sarah? She might think it was funny the first couple times, but eventually, she’d think there was something wrong with Jeff.
Although it might be less evident in a customer relationship, your customer ultimately will feel the same way. If they make a transaction, but nothing changes in your communication, they’re going to subconsciously come to the conclusion that you didn’t even notice their transaction. This will lead them to feel that they’re just another number for you. Which in turn will lead to a sense of disillusionment with your company.
There are several things you can do to change the way you communicate with a customer, but the important part is to recognize that they’ve trusted you with some of their hard-earned money. And you should show them that you’re committed to repaying their trust with the best possible service.
That wraps up the section on when to introduce content and brings us to the final point in a good content marketing strategy.
How to Deliver Content
Many people associate content marketing purely with blogging. But this is a huge mistake. Sure, blogs will be the majority of your online content over time. But while this is a big part of content marketing, it’s certainly not the entirety.
Content can be delivered over several forms of media, including, but not limited to:
- Social Media
- Video Channels
- White Papers
While the exploration and commitment phases can contain most of these content delivery methods, the discovery phase is limited to blogs, articles, podcasts, and video channels. For that reason, any of these delivery methods that are available to the public should focus more on being informative than promoting your company.
Exploration generally begins with a subscription of some sort. This could be a free member’s area that contains more specific articles, videos, etc. It could also be a white paper. Or it could be a simple e-mail subscription. Regardless of your preferred method, your exploration phase trigger should collect your prospect’s name and e-mail address.
Webinars can be a great way to deliver content to those who are exploring your brand. Not only can you deliver more valuable information to your customers, but the voice and interactive elements will make the experience more personal.
Finally, content for those who have committed to a transaction can be delivered in almost all ways. E-mail, though, should always be one of these. E-mail is still the most efficient and effective method of communicating with and marketing to customers.
Build a Good Content Strategy to Increase Organic Lead Conversions
Ultimately, the purpose of your content marketing is to take organic leads and convert them into customers. That’s why it’s important to have more than just a plan for your blog. You need to have a plan for e-mail campaigns, social media, and many other content delivery methods.
Remember, building a good content strategy takes time. But it’s essential to producing effective content. If you want to gain and convert more organic leads, have a written plan for the who, what, why, when, and how. And continually revise the plan as you learn more about yourself and your audience.