Before you begin to scope out your content marketing plan or even define your goals, you must spend some time exploring and documenting the business challenges that you plan to address with your program.
These challenges should be the driving force behind your content themes. They will also give you a variety of pathways and ideas for developing content.
Content marketing is excellent for educating your audience and building brand awareness. At a high level, this allows you to demonstrate value and build a relationship with your target audience.
Done well, your content can also help your audience overcome their fears, misperceptions, and objections around topics or even specific products and services. This is an extremely important component and not to be underestimated.
A great approach for determining the challenges you are likely to face is to use the framework developed by Oratium (www.oratium.com), called “Know-Believe-Do.”
This is a waterfall process developed by their CEO, Tim Pollard, that you can work through to build the base of information you need. It can be helpful to begin with the end in mind and work backwards.
First, you identify the action that you wish your target audience to take – the do. This could be as big as a purchase decision or as small as a click on a “download now” button.
Next, you’ll consider what your audience must believe in order to take that action. For example, if they choose to purchase your offering, they must be confident that it will solve their problem. They may also need to believe that other alternatives will not solve their problem as well, as fast, or as cost-effectively. Or perhaps establishing beliefs around the reliability of your offering and your staff are key elements.
Once you know what they must believe, you can then determine what pieces of information they must know in order to develop those beliefs. This could come in the form of expert advice, customer testimonials, third-party data, product specifications and so on.
As you work through this exercise, list as many challenges as you can think of. You’ll probably see that many of them will relate to each other in some way. From there, you can begin to group them under larger headings, the goal being to define a few major areas of concern that you need to address. Each sub-challenge can then be addressed in different aspects of your content marketing program.
Before you move forward with the planning process, share these challenges with other key stakeholders within your organization. Ensure that you are all aligned around the challenges you face and agree on which ones must be addressed and in which priority if possible.
Consider these questions as you work through the Know-Believe-Do framework:
• Are my target customers familiar with my firm? My offering?
• What problems are my potential customers trying to solve?
• What are some of the knowledge gaps that exist in the market?
• Are there perceptions or misperceptions that should be addressed about my organization, my offering, or in the market generally?
• Are there different types of personas I need to reach? What will each persona need to know?
• What objections or concerns might my target audience have regarding my product or service?
• What will my prospects need to know to move from the status quo?
• What will my prospects need to know to change from a competitive offering to mine?
• Who do my customers trust?
• What types of proof do they consider valuable and valid?
Answering these questions can take time and some soul searching. In my experience, far too many organizations undertake marketing activities without an appreciation for the business challenges they are truly facing and the kinds of topics they need to address which will ultimately move the needle for them.
This post is adapted from an excerpt of The Content Driven Product Launch