Some say content is king. They recognize the power of relevant and resonant content to attract buyers, guide them through challenging decisions and drive growth to new levels. But many other organizations seem to consider content an unruly tyrant.
One of the biggest issues is its high perceived cost — in time, energy and money — relative to perceived benefits. Such perceptions discourage executives and managers from investing in programs that promise to position them as thought leaders and trusted authorities in their fields.
Instead, they go on marketing their companies in conventional ways. They rely on product-focused brochures and presentations or dull and unrefreshed messages created deep in the past. Perhaps they merely shift responsibility for prospecting to the sales force.
My sense is that marketers fall short on the possibilities of content-rich marketing because they are not fully leveraging the assets they have developed. They treat a presentation as a mere presentation or a white paper as a mere white paper.
This is a missed opportunity. To elevate the “R” in ROI, it’s necessary to think different.
You can begin by thinking in terms of “foundational content.” By creating foundational content, you create modular material that can be used in many forms and merchandised in many channels. You make it once, present it many times.
You leverage the asset. Reuse and re-purpose it. You attract more prospects. Generate more inquiries. Produce and cultivate more leads. Support more sales conversations. Close more deals. You make more with the content you created and thereby, get lots more for your marketing dollar.
So how do you achieve this inarguably attractive outcome?
Well, here’s how we do it with our clients. We begin by initiating a thought leadership project. Together, we identify an issue on which to build a compelling perspective and establish authority. We brainstorm on the topic and outline the key factors we will address in our research.
We then kick off a series of conference calls (typically three of them lasting one hour each) with subject matter experts — sometimes including independent consultants or customers — to address an array of factors. Among them: Market Trends and Drivers; Business Problems and Challenges; Solution(s); Solution Benefits; Success Stories; Buyer Decision Criteria; Critical Success Factors; and Calls to Action.
During this process, we immerse ourselves in market research and analysis — all in an effort to gain an independent perspective on market trends while validating (or invalidating in some cases) ideas that emerge in the discussions with subject matter experts.
While such efforts might be conducted without outside assistance, much of the benefit of this process comes from having an independent expert who is skilled in seeing through the customer’s eyes and framing the message in ways that will resonate with that prospective customer. You can also benefit by having someone to hold exclusively responsible for the production and packaging of the content — accelerating its delivery in the process. (It’s amazing what you can accomplish — quickly — by withholding final payment until all deliverables are complete to your full satisfaction.)
Some people might stop at this point, produce a presentation or white paper and then, consider the project complete. But here is where leveraged value creation truly begins.
Let me suggest 7 ways you can reuse and re-purpose the content you generate through such efforts:
- White Papers. These have consistently proven to be powerful ways to generate and nurture leads. You provide valuable and compelling content in exchange for information that might signal a buyer’s interest in addressing an existing problem.
- Case Studies. One of the most valuable ways to demonstrate your company’s value and impact is through customer success stories.
- Presentations. Whether the presentation is given in person or through a webinar (again, great for lead gen), this is an invaluable way to establish your authority on a key industry issue.
- Information Graphics. One undervalued asset that promises to deliver compounding returns is an exceptional set of information graphics. Such tools can help you accelerate comprehension of a complex solution — and facilitate your efforts to win the buy-in of a distracted decision team.
- Blog Posts. While I might prefer to call them online magazines or just thought leadership sites, “blogs” (as they are better known) are a great location for pieces you pull from a white paper. You can even use them to promote the white paper and produce a lead.
- Newsletter Pieces. Without much refinement, existing content can be reproduced as a newsletter piece. (Most email communication tools even allow you to track which pieces attract the most interest — helping you refine future content investments.)
- Sales Enablement Tools. Sales people are often starving for relevant tools that will support their sales conversations and help support the buyer’s decisions. Look for opportunities to turn your content into sales “playbooks” and other actionable tools that make your sales people more successful in the field. (Just be sure to train them in how to use these tools.)
Of course, you shouldn’t forget about your promotional copy.
Your outbound messages — whether you are promoting a webinar, a white paper or some other source of content — are a critical element in creating awareness among prospects and customers. Compelling copy — inspired by your initial research — is essential to driving marketing results. And, given the growing power of “inbound marketing,” you may want to create content-rich messages that guide prospects to your content from an Internet search or a social media session (on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).
Whether you are breaking it down or bundling it up, smart content marketers know that content should be modular in its make up. It should lend itself to many forms of use and reuse. It should provide value in multiple media and in multiple channels.
By thinking in this way, you can ensure you are getting the most for your marketing investment. You can claim your keys to the kingdom and let content be its king.