A few months ago, I came across this article on MarketingProfs, “Which Comes First: Content or Marketing Automation Software?” that discussed how you know when you have enough content to merit investing in marketing automation software. The article laid out a plan to map content to your audience segments and the buying cycle, and then looked at the missing parts to determine when you have enough content to fully utilize marketing automation to deliver said content. But where do we start?
We’ve all heard that the key to producing great content for your audience is to segment. However, as Andrew wrote about in his post on “dinosaur data“, segmenting B2B lists so that you can deliver relevant content by using “old school” segmentation techniques like SIC codes, industries, and job titles can easily turn into infinite permutations … and that’s when content creation becomes an overwhelming and unbearable task. If you segment by industry, AND by job title, AND by company size, AND by geographical region, etc. etc., you see how quickly your content to-do list starts to grow. It’s in these situations many B2B marketers simply decide to quit segmenting and revert back to the batch and blast style communications that we know aren’t effective.
But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
The key to managing your content marketing endeavors is to start by creating personas based on a common “why” — as in, why certain groups of prospects would be interested in receiving the same content because they have similar challenges, pain points, and interests. We’ve put together a helpful ebook that provides a step-by-step guide on “Creating Personas for B2B Marketing” that you can download here.
Your B2B Content Plan in One Simple Chart
Once you’ve identified the common “whys” for your segments, it’s helpful to map out how much content you need to produce for each segment based on its place in the funnel. Here’s an example of what this could look like:
Top Of The Funnel (TOFU) Content
In this stage of the funnel, you’ll want to create several pieces of various types of content, such as blog posts, videos, webinars, infographics, podcasts, eBooks, etc. TOFU content should educate prospects and generate awareness…and by using different formats (like a webinar versus an infographic) to present your material, you’ll appeal to a broader spectrum of folks. Regardless of what form the content takes, TOFU content should speak to your prospects’ pain points or interests and exhibit your thought leadership on these topics to the point where they’re ready to actually consider a solution to their problem (i.e., your product or service).
Middle Of The Funnel (MOFU) Content
For middle of the funnel prospects, you’ll need content such as case studies, datasheets, analyst papers, buying guides, and free trials. These types of content answer the questions “Why should you buy?” and “Why should you buy now?” In the TOFU stage you’re igniting a fire in your prospects by stimulating interest and demand, but in this stage, your content should be about stoking the fire and creating a sense of urgency to purchase.
Bottom Of The Funnel (BOFU) Content
Once prospects are at the bottom of the funnel, your sales reps are likely deep in communication with them through emails, phone calls, and other methods of dialogue. But content marketers can support sales reps’ claims with content they can use as backup evidence and to build credibility…with content such as testimonials, ROI calculators, and third party PR coverage and reviews.
In addition to the “creating personas” ebook that I mentioned above, there are a bunch of great resources that can help you build out your content marketing strategy, such as these resources from the Content Marketing Institute.
What other tips and best practices do you have to help you develop an awesome content marketing plan?