By: Joe The first thing you learn as a writer or any kind of storyteller is that an attention span is a sensitive thing. The most important aspect of a sentence or shot is the next one. Few storytellers have mastered this concept like Orson Welles. Recently, Vox detailed the danger of “and then” when telling a story, highlighting Welles’ gifts. His art never led viewers in a straight line. Instead of what came next, he turned to “but,” “therefore” and “meanwhile” to advance the narrative. Content marketing to support sales needs to follow these same principles. Every prospect is either a “but,” “therefore” or a “meanwhile,” and content strategy needs to include elements designed to keep each kind of prospect in the funnel. But – The prospect who thinks you’re not the right fit “But” introduces opposition into content strategy. When some prospects land on your website, there’s a chance they’ll dismiss what they read or be skeptical. For example, a chief information officer (CIO) needs some help turning all of his data into analytics. He knows he needs relevant insights for his company, but that’s it. Your product is exactly what he needs, but he’s convinced otherwise. Address the “but” by directing him to an e-book or analyst report that highlights a different way your company can help and shows off your chops. You need to educate “but” prospects to keep them in the funnel and gradually erode their opposition. Therefore – The prospect who likes what he hears The dream prospects for any company are the ones who like what they hear and want to see what’s next. These are the “therefore” buyers, and they’re ready for progression. The content they first engaged with piqued their interest, and they’re ready to jump further into the funnel. However they landed on your site, you need a quick method of moving them forward. The content they’re encouraged to click next must promote your differentiators and offer a direct path to conversion, such as a free download or a solution checklist that expands on their existing knowledge and increases their interest. Their next step, however, can’t just be about the conversion. The option needs to be there, but it must also come with relevant information and engaging content. “And then” bores a film viewer because there’s no conflict. It turns an excited prospect off, because it takes his attention – and his business – for granted. Meanwhile – The prospect who likes what he hears but needs more time If “but” is addressed by driving awareness and education and “therefore” by directing a prospect to a decision, “meanwhile” is about providing more depth. Content marketing strategies need to include some pieces that dig a little deeper and integrate other marketing channels. The “meanwhile” content has to answer as many questions as possible. These prospects are interested in your offerings, even though they’re not ready to convert. They’re not exactly skeptical, like the first category of visitors. They’re taking their time, though. White papers, detailed video content and e-books related to your company are good examples of the content these prospects need to see. The in-depth content needs to discuss how you do it and address common questions. There are no “and thens” in sales and marketing. Conversion paths take a number of twists and turns until they reach their destination, just like a great film drags you around until it hits you with a compelling conclusion. B2B buying decisions often include a number of people. Instead of developing content marketing for just one kind of buyer or creating a linear conversion funnel, think about every kind of prospect you want to reach. Each knows what’s at the end of the funnel. They won’t get there, though, unless you tell them the right story. The Metis Approach is about finding creative ways to achieve your company’s goal. Check us out.
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