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Take Content Beyond the Buyer’s Journey by Playing Nice [11 Expert Tips]

A content marketing strategy based on the buyer’s journey isn’t enough.

Why? First, prospects often encounter content from your brand that the content marketing team didn’t create. Second, the journey shouldn’t end when they become customers.

Buyer engagement today requires a circular approach to content as your journey with the audience isn’t linear and shouldn’t end with the purchase. And that holistic view requires companies to better organize their content operations.

Buyer engagement today requires a circular approach to #content. Your journey with the audience isn’t linear and shouldn’t end with the purchase, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

The marketing department often owns content operations within a company. But success requires close collaboration with other internal teams (such as sales and customer service) and a willingness to extend content beyond the marketing and sales cycle.

It takes work –and teamwork.

But how do you get everyone (content, marketing, sales, customer support, and more) working together to give audience members, prospects, buyers, and customers the content they need? We asked experts presenting at the upcoming ContentTECH Summit for advice. Here’s what they suggest.

1. Reflect and collaborate

Listen to the other teams’ needs and concerns. Get familiar with the content and its purpose. Recognize that other teams come from a different tradition and way of thinking about content. Then look for the commonalities. Everyone wants accurate, quality, useful content. They want users to find, understand, and use the content. Work toward this shared goal. – Regina Lynn Preciado, senior content strategist, Content Rules

Other teams come from a different way of thinking about #Content, but they want buyers to find, understand, and use it, too, says @contentrulesinc via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

2. Stay humble

Respect is earned, not given. If you want sales and customer service to follow marketing’s lead, recommendations, ideas, etc., listen before speaking. Approach every discussion from a mental place of, “Hey, I might be wrong.” Stay humble – humble people hear more than proud people. And often, what they hear is the difference between the other party wanting to follow them or fighting them each step of the way. – Tom Martin, president, Converse Digital

If you want your sales team to follow your lead on #Content, stay humble. Humble people hear more, making others want to follow – not fight, says @TomMartin via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

3. Stop trying to win

Don’t go in looking for a turf battle. Instead, aim to align around the big picture: If content marketing is successful, buyers should be more qualified, and customer service should be less pressed by basic questions. Ask: What are the factors that would make their jobs easier? What questions can content address and explain to improve their work? – Zontee Hou, director of strategy, Convince & Convert

Align around the goal: Successful #ContentMarketing means more qualified buyers and fewer basic questions for customer service, says @ZonteeHou via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

4. Work transparently

Seek feedback from others before making any grand pronouncements. At least appear as a collaborator before deciding what other teams must or should do. Add transparency to any decisions that affect others, so they understand the whys without begrudging the hows. – Gavin Austin, principal technical writer, Salesforce

Be transparent about #Content decisions that affect other teams, so they understand the why without begrudging the how, says @GavinAustinSays via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

5. Understand multiple roles, but don’t take on everything yourself

To be a great marketer, you must understand what it takes to be a great salesperson or a great designer. You don’t need to take on these roles yourself, but it’s important to respect the process of these roles, understand the roadblocks folks in these roles might face, and respect the time it can take to deliver success in these positions. Mutual respect goes a very long way in earning the trust of your colleagues, but it will also help you set stakeholder expectations and inspire your teammates to deliver success. – Amy Balliett, senior fellow of visual strategy, Material

Great marketers understand what it takes to be a great salesperson or a great designer. You don’t have to do the work yourself – just respect your colleagues, says @AmyBalliett via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

6. Create a shared vision

If marketing is to lead content operations, they need to create a shared context for other internal teams like sales and customer service. Each has its targets, but you can translate them into a common vision. – Tim Hanse, principal consultant, Crossphase

To lead #ContentOps, create a shared vision with sales and customer service teams, says #TimHanse via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

7. Ask, then produce for the entire journey

[Create]  a simple but scalable way to get feedback. We should be creating content that works across the entire customer journey, from awareness to expansion and advocacy. Nothing frustrates a customer service rep more than seeing just top-of-funnel content being produced. We need to know the most crucial steps in the customer journey to plan and map our content strategy properly. – Randy Frisch, president and co-founder, Uberflip

Create #Content that works across the entire customer journey. Nothing frustrates customer service teams more than seeing only top-of-funnel content, says @randyfrisch via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

8. Unite on the goals

The best way to collaborate with other internal teams is to identify common goals everyone can work toward. Of course, there may be some specific goals unique to each department. But having that shared vision is crucial to enabling cooperation. – Jeff Coyle, co-founder and chief strategy officer, MarketMuse

A shared vision is crucial to enabling cooperation, says @jeffrey_coyle via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

9. Develop familiarity and knowledge

There are several things you can do to gain respect – the most important is regular and collaborative communication. Socialize your success around the business. Use your content expertise to develop personas for each of your internal stakeholder groups and address their pain points in your content strategy.

Show them the questions your audience is searching for, where your company’s answers are falling short, how you can fix it, and the specific benefits of doing that. Run an analysis of your content inventory’s performance highlighting where competitors are pulling ahead (a little bit of rivalry can go a long way). Set up content attribution modeling showing the single customer view, where your eventual purchaser has interacted with your content on the path to purchase. Keep internal teams in the loop with monthly reporting on content performance specific to their pain points. Give tangible examples of how content is supporting their goals. – Karen Hesse, founder and CEO, 256

Keep internal teams in the loop with monthly reporting on #Content performance. Give examples of how content supports their goals, says @256media via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

10. Invite other teams into your content

You can partner with internal teams. For example, in the case of podcasting, bring in members of the other teams as regular guests, so they feel a partial ownership of the podcast. Look at the eBay for Business Podcast, for which we are a partner, as a good example of this. – Rob Walch, vice president of Libsyn enterprise and platform partnerships, Libsyn

Bring members of other teams into your #Content, so they feel ownership, says @podcast411 via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

11. Keep an eye on customer happiness

Marketing is about keeping customers happy during the entire cycle of the customer journey – from the moment a lead approaches the company, to making a purchase decision, to resolving issues and conflicts after the deal is closed. This requires tight interaction and integration between all teams, including marketing, sales, development, customer service, and so on. To make sure that the customer has a unified experience at each stage of the customer journey, all the teams need to exchange and share knowledge about the customer’s needs.

If the customer is provided with a fantastically convenient way to make a purchase, but the delivery team messes things up by shipping the product to the wrong address and customer service demonstrates indifference to the problem, the overall customer experience can hardly be called successful. By providing insights into customers’ goals and behavior at all stages of the customer’s journey, suggesting ways to tailor the company’s offerings to customer’s context, and gathering analytics, marketing teams can become the secret ingredient that bridges all other teams, from development to after-sale support. – Alex Masycheff, CEO, Intuillion

#Marketing can become the secret ingredient that brings other teams together to create an optimal customer experience, says @DITAToo1 via @CMIContent. #ContentTECH Share on X

Be the secret ingredient

Will your content team seize the opportunity to unite the company’s content and create happy customers all along the lifecycle?

Extending content’s impact beyond the sales funnel demands leaders who can make all the cogs in the wheels fit together so the prospect-turned-buyer-turned-customer moves along smoothly.

Missed ContentTECH Summit live but still want to learn how to manage, and scale great content experiences across all your platforms and channels? Register today to watch it on demand (it’s free).

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute