There are two extremes that I’ve observed with many organizations’ inbound marketing strategies. On one end of the spectrum are organizations whose inbound marketing program is almost non-existent. They tell me they’ve been doing inbound for several years, but when I look online I don’t see any evidence of it. I don’t think you’re really doing inbound marketing if your last blog article was published in 2015 and the only call-to-action is promoting an “upcoming” webinar that was held in January.
At the other extreme are organizations that have more newly published content than the Sunday New York Times. As a staunch proponent of inbound marketing, its these examples that make me smile. But as I dig deeper, I often discover that much of the content is self-serving and probably irrelevant to most of their visitors. Do prospects really care that your firm was named one of the top family friendly businesses in Southeast Minnesota or that your employees volunteered to pick up trash in a park? That’s great stuff. I applaud you. Keep in mind, however, that those types of articles don’t do much to educate or inform your potential prospects.
Before any content is created and published, two basic questions should be asked. These questions will help determine if the content warrants the resources that are being devoted to it. They can also serve as guard rails for your content strategy and ensure that whatever is published is relevant to its intended audience.
Who is the intended target for this content?
Who are you trying to attract with this content? Who do you want to read it? Are you writing it for all your prospects or just certain ones? Most companies have multiple target personas. Which one is the content focusing on: the CEO, the middle manager end-user, the financial decision-maker?
The content and the message it conveys can be further customized for specific target markets. For example, the topics that are relevant for the financial services vertical may be very different than those written for manufacturing companies.
Where in the buying journey is your audience? Are you developing content to educate and inform prospects who are just beginning to explore potential solutions? Or are you writing to help someone who is in the final stages of decision-making.
What is the intended purpose of this content?
What is the objective of the content? Attracting new visitors to the website, educating potential prospects on your expertise, converting visitors to leads, nurturing leads, breathing life into old “dead” leads, or accelerating deals through the funnel are all valid purposes for your content. Each of these purposes, however, will require different topics, styles and formats. Some purposes can be accomplished with a 400-word blog post. Others may require a 2,000-word whitepaper or an hour-long webinar.
After the writing is completed and before you press the “publish” button, put yourselves in the shoes of your audience and ask these quick questions. So what? Who cares? Why does this matter? If you can come up with positive responses to these questions without too much effort, then your content is probably worth publishing. If not, take a step back and re-evaluate. Your resources are too valuable to waste on content that will miss the mark.