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Crossing the Content Chasm

There’s a new buzz phrase that’s gaining popularity as content marketing is embraced by both marketers and consumers: the “Content Chasm.”  In fact, Mac McIntosh recently wrote about the Content Chasm as it relates to B2B marketing automation and lead generation.  The term refers to the gap between where most marketers are with their inventory of content and where they need to be.

The Content Chasm is actually comprised of several types of gaps, each needing specific strategies and actions for resolution.

The capacity chasm

At its most basic, there is a lack of enough fresh, quality content. In order to generate leads and nurture them properly, new (or repurposed or curated) content must be continuously developed to attract and retain prospects’ attention.

The customization chasm

What’s useful and relevant (and, therefore, likely to be consumed) by one person, may be irrelevant and useless to another. So content must be customized to the target consumer group (or persona).
In B2B, this means that different versions of content must be developed for consumers who have different business roles and titles. For example, a CFO and a VP of Sales each have different questions that need to be answered and objections that need to be overcome, so the content you deliver should speak to them individually.

Also, someone making or influencing a buying decision for a complex, high-ticket B2B product or service will need different information throughout the different phases of the buying cycle. At the beginning of the cycle, they may be interested in company reputation and basic product functionality. As they get ready to make their buying decision, they might be more interested in integration issues and contract terms.

It’s helpful to develop a message map to identify what information each persona needs based on what  stage of the buying cycle they’re in. This post from Barbra Gago will give you step-by-step templates to map your B2B content.

The consumption chasm

As your prospects’ content habits evolve, you need to keep pace with how they want to consume your content. It’s typically the case that as new media formats become commonplace, traditional media and formats remain. Even as we add new media such as video podcasts and high-tech devices such as tablets, people still read books and listen to the radio. New media doesn’t replace old media – it extends the available options.

So what’s a marketer to do? Obviously you can’t and shouldn’t reformat every piece of content to fit every type of media and device, but you can make informed choices by studying your message maps and considering which formats best fit a specific piece of content. For example, video works well for telling success stories, while technical specs aimed at engineers may work best via text-based media.

The major trend, however, for content delivery is toward multimedia. Fat fiber optic pipes capable of transporting torrents of digitized audio, images, video, etc., are becoming the norm. And our devices are becoming more proficient at processing and displaying sights and sounds. Delivery concerns that once surrounded multimedia are fading away.

At the same time, busy executives (personas who most likely have the authority to make a buy decision) expect to be educated about complex products and services online. They no longer have the time or patience to read a 12-page white paper, so choosing to deliver multimedia experiences can help you package your information and marketing messages for quick, convenient consumption.

I think we’re going to be hearing much more about the Content Chasm over the next several months. Meanwhile, review your marketing content development and delivery processes by answering the following questions:

  • Do you have resources in place to develop a steady stream of fresh, relevant and useful content?
  • Are you creating, repurposing and curating content customized for the different personas who influence your buy decision and for the different stages of your buy cycle?
  • Are you researching, testing and developing multimedia capabilities so that you can deliver persuasive content in a format that your prospects prefer?

How about you? What kind of Content Chasms are you experiencing? And how are you meeting the challenges?