How to Build Content for the Sales Funnel

In 2015, roughly two million blogs were posted each day. Today, it’s well over three million. Despite the steady uptick in content marketing, 70% of published B2B content isn’t applied by the customer; which means it is failing to ultimately drive sales . Statistics like that make it difficult to convince channel partners, or anyone else, to invest in content. But when executed well, content absolutely drives sales.

Every buyer’s journey is unique

Buyers typically begin by searching for potential solutions to their specific problem online. They consume blogs, e-books, and other content to self-educate. They also ask friends and colleagues for their opinions, compare solution attributes, and seek social proof. Even after the buying decision is made, buyers continue to consume content as they work to narrow the list of potential suppliers. Near the end of the journey, the hope is they contact your business to answer questions and further analyze your organization and solutions before purchasing.

Buyer personas are important

Personas are fictional characters comprised of known attributes of your buyers. Here’s an article on how to define, create and use personas and how doing so will make all your marketing efforts easier.

Drive content topics with pain points

The trick to publishing content that drives demand is to discover the bigger business issues that your personas are most concerned about, and then reframe them in a way that cleverly integrates your products and offerings to solve the problem. Here’s a closer look using the K-12 market as an example:

Immediate vs. overarching concerns – what your persona thinks

Every buyer has immediate concerns that overlay their overarching bigger business concerns. For K-12 print decision makers, the over-arching bigger business concerns might look like:

  • Dropout vs. graduation rates
  • Maintaining safety of school facilities
  • Improving standardized test scores

If all you were doing was selling a printer, the customer’s immediate concerns typically include:

  • Total cost of ownership
  • Basic functionality and reliability
  • Economical price and ease of use

The immediate concerns are obvious choices for content topics and at first glance it makes sense to address them. However, mapping content that way doesn’t tell buyers anything new. A better approach is to educate your audience by addressing ongoing, chronic, overarching concerns within the context of print and copy solutions.

Identifying key differentiatorsthe value of Xerox in K-12

Cost is an obvious immediate concern so it might be tempting to lead with a cost based differentiator such as how cartridge free technology produces 90% less waste. But other non-cost related differentiators lead to the unique content that solves a bigger customer issue about how can student learning be improved with color documents. This content tactic will set your business apart.

It’s time to brainstorm

Remember, the more input from your team, the better the content will be. Ask them to help and use questions like these to develop topics:

  1. What impact do we have on overarching concerns that we have not yet realized?
  2. What do we know about this topic that prospects are overlooking?
  3. How is the market evolving in ways prospects aren’t aware of?
  4. What recommendations would [in this example, students, teachers, parents] make?

Cultivating content for demand generation

In our K-12 example, decision makers are concerned with costs, but overall they are primarily focused on improving standardized test scores. Their current mental model about  improving standardized test scores may well be focused onsolving this problem by purchasing interactive education tools, not printers.

You can reframe the conversation by reminding the customer of the importance of color, touching on statistics which show that information delivered in black and white actually decreases student’s attention spans, while color improves learning retention and recognition Until you educate them, customers will be unaware that color printing is an important classroom tool for improving student scores.

Content and funnel alignment

Aligning content to overarching concerns, educating buyers along their journey and creating content across all stages of the funnel ensures prospects have the type of information they need when they need it. Sales funnels can be divided into three parts:

  1. Top of the funnel – awareness

The Awareness stage is geared at educating prospects who find your website and seek answers, resources, data, research, opinions and insights regarding a print related pain point they’re experiencing.

Awareness content examples:

  • Blogs with the intention of educating
  • E-books, white papers, and reports
  • Videos, webinars, podcasts
  • Social media
  1. Middle of the funnel – consideration

Consideration happens when buyers understand that finding a solution to their print related pain is the only answer. Their preferred content at this stage is used for evaluating options and establishing trust in you and your solutions.

Consideration content examples:

  • Expert guides
  • Thought leadership blogs
  • Lead nurturing emails
  • Webinars and live interactions
  • Whitepapers and comparison charts
  1. Bottom of the funnel – purchase

Here, the buyer has decided to purchase and is collecting referrals from friends and colleagues, researching suppliers, and seeking social proof.

Purchase content examples:

  • Trial offers
  • Case studies
  • Demos
  • Product literature

Content creation and distribution is critical to demand generation online. In addition, understanding how to create topics that best serve your buyer and mapping it to the three funnel stages ensures your content is not going to waste and puts you in a better position than 70% of the B2B content marketer out there today.

For more information on content development join our Xerox channel partner LinkedIn group.

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