By Darryl Praill published August 23, 2011

5 Tips for Creating Content that Matters

Recently my firm had the opportunity to do a joint webinar with Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute and Big Blue Moose on how to make marketing content that matters — that is, content that provides value to consumers beyond simple awareness. We had an engaging discussion about how to create purposeful content that:

  • Meets the needs of sales and marketing
  • Is compelling
  • Can be created quickly
  • Can be created cost-effectively
  • Supports the sales cycle

We covered a lot of ground in our discussion (which you can listen to or view in its entirety). But I’ve put together some of the main tips and takeaways here as a summary.

Understand your audience

Whether you create content to raise awareness of your products and services, establish thought leadership, increase your search rankings, feed your social media engine, or nurture your leads, remember that your ultimate goal is to generate sales leads. It’s a point many marketers lose sight of.

TO DO: Start by analyzing your sales funnel:

  • What sales objections and questions do you typically encounter for each stage of the sales funnel?  
  • Who are you speaking to if you had to categorize them by persona?
  • Do you have content that addresses their objections or their questions for every stage?

A big portion of the content will be used by the sales reps and not just for your marketing efforts. So the key steps here are:

  1. Determine your personas.
  2. Understand your buying cycles.
  3. Map your content to your funnel.
  4. Fill any gaps you find with new and relevant content.

Create alignment with sales

Marketing and sales may not qualify leads the same way. You need to have a handle on the differences so you can create content that addresses the needs of both marketing and sales.

TO DO:

  1. Sit down with your senior sales leadership and perhaps a top individual performer to discuss what signs they look for in a lead at every stage of the sales cycle. Obvious signs may be job title or company size, but there may also be smaller signs — like specific customer pain points — that would equally qualify them.
  2. Assign weighted values to each qualifier. You’ll soon learn what is important to the sales cycle, and you can then create content as well as calls to action that will help you determine if a prospect qualifies as a lead.

These factors should influence your content development and promotion efforts and will quickly get sales to buy in to your efforts.

Be prepared to repurpose your content

You need to balance the demands of your tight budget and the buyers’ needs to consume content in their own preferred channels and format.  Make your life easier and minimize the impact on your budge  by repurposing some of the content that you create to fit other platforms.

TO DO: Plan to repurpose key content. For instance, if you host a webinar and record it you can:

  • Reproduce it as a podcast.
  • Transcribe that podcast into a pseudo-white paper.
  • Take some of the key points in the white paper and turn them into a blog post.
  • Leverage some of your sound-bite worthy quotes from any of these assets for social media traffic generation.

Now you have at least four pieces of content from the one piece you spent time and money on to create. With all of the content you’ve just created, your website looks more impressive and credible, and your prospects have more options for consuming your content through their preferred channels.

Cross-promote whenever possible

In any business field, there is only so much that is new and content creation-worthy at a given time. Even the best writers can get writer’s block and find it hard to create new materials. You can overcome these issues by using content created by others to inspire your own content development efforts.

TO DO: Share content you find with others by using your own words and points of view to create more robust and interactive conversations with your audience. Some ideas:

  • If you see a great video or read a great white paper, create a blog post that highlights what you learned from those materials or record a podcast that reviews key lessons from your own perspective. Always be sure to attribute the content to the original author or provide a link, if possible.
  • Check out the associated discussion forums (including those on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) and comment on relevant articles and share your perspective, making sure to refer back to any supporting content you’ve created that can add value to the discussion.

Use technology to create efficiencies

There are many ways you can use technology to make your job easier and scale your time more efficiently. This is especially true when creating and promoting your content.

TO DO:

  • If you have a Mac computer, you can use some of its free programs like iMovie, or GarageBand to create videos or podcasts  or to turn a video into a podcast and vice-versa.
  • If you’re a PC user, free, open-source programs like Audacity work very well for creating podcasts.
  • Don’t be afraid to use your webcam to generate YouTube quality content videos (just be sure to use good lighting and incorporate your points concisely).
  • Rather than being a slave to your social media networks, tools like HootSuite can help you distribute your content-based promotions across multiple social platforms at all times of the day using its scheduling capabilities.

While these points summarize what Rob and I discussed, I want to add one more key point for consideration: Create a content calendar. For such a complex and important discipline as content marketing, it can be overwhelming to tackle the whole job in one piece. So after you have completed an analysis of your content needs, schedule each action you need to complete to reach your goal. You’ll find the process to be far less daunting and more affordable once you understand it doesn’t need to be done overnight.

Author: Darryl Praill

Darryl Praill is a new breed of marketer, recognizing the fusion of strategy, behavioral science, social networking, traditional outreach and guerrilla tactics. Having raised over $70 million in funding, been voted a Forty Under 40 recipient, taken companies through mergers, acquisitions, and public offerings, Darryl understands the challenges marketers face. He is the chief protagonist at My Lead Agency. Follow him on Twitter @myleadagency.

Other posts by Darryl Praill

  • http://twitter.com/lisagerber Lisa Gerber

    Hi Darryl, This is a great list. 
    I like the idea of converting a video into a podcast. We might have to test that out! 
    When sitting down with sales leadership and talking about customer pain points, also ask what questions they get from their customers. Marcus Sheridan shared this with us in a webinar we hosted; every customer question provides a content idea. 

    • Darryl Praill

      You’re spot on Lisa. That’s actually the very first bullet I address in the Understanding Your Audience section – ask what questions you get from your customers for each stage of the sales funnel. The more you can allow your prospect to self-serve and self-qualify, the more your sales reps can focus on closing and less on educating. With this approach, a lean organization could potentially reduce their sales staff because they can have a more productive, and a more efficient, sales organization.  If you add in some Inbound Marketing or Marketing Automation, the sales staff also get the added benefit of understanding what the prospect consumed, how long they consumed it, who they shared it with, etc, hence they can start the discovery and qualification process with the prospect from a position of strength, thereby reducing the typical sales duration. All of this is done by creating content that anticipates their questions and objections.  Best of all, as a marketer, not only do you have content that Sales will actually use, but you also have content that you can promote via social channels and you can have confidence in knowing your audience will consume it.  Thanks for the comment.

  • http://twitter.com/brencournoyer Brendan Cournoyer

    “Remember that your ultimate goal is to generate sales leads. It’s a point many marketers lose sight of.”

    Great point. Funny enough, this is the same business goal as many traditional publications have (to generate content that advertisers can sponsor, and provide them with quality leads in return). The difference, of course, is that editors and journalists rarely — if ever — think about that side of the coin when they are creating content. Marketers, however, have the freedom to focus directly on their target segments and really hammer the right messages home with the content they create. It’s amazing how many still view content as simply “brand marketing”, when the tangible value is right there in front of them.

    • Darryl Praill

      Brilliant comment Brendan. It is a shame that many people forget this side of the coin, yet it seems so obvious when you think about it.  Bottom line – if Sales is successful, and you’ve helped Sales achieve their goal, then you’ll be deemed successful and rewarded accordingly.  At a time when so many marketers are frustrated by trying to prove their value and contribution, this approach can quickly overcome this challenge.  Thanks for commenting.