In response to the blog post I wrote about the Return on YES, I was asked on Twitter to give some examples of what I mean by "show your prospects the next steps."
Think for a moment about the user experience at your website. You plan for how you'll get your website visitors to click on something to learn more after they arrive - to dive deeper into your content.
You construct navigational paths designed to lead them to the information they need (at least I hope you do). This means that once they click on something and move to that web page, you provide what you promised and then offer other related choices. And on, and on.
If all you ever wanted was for them to visit your homepage, none of this would be necessary. All of us would have single-page websites that read like executive summaries. Boring, right? Helpful, not so much.
Think about your content from this perspective.
Do you only want your prospects to read that one piece of marketing content?
Of course not. In a complex sale, that won't get you very far.
Each content resource is designed to do one thing. Some examples may include:
- Educate prospects about an issue that could be an obstacle to achieving an objective.
- Offer evidence that solving the problem delivers tangible outcomes.
- Provide thought leadership about an industry trend.
The examples can go on for miles, but you get the idea. So let's take the first one and dive in.
Once your prospect has read an educational piece to learn about why they might not be achieving an objective they want, is that the end?
Nope. You've left them hanging.
If you were them, what would you want to know next?
- What are others doing about this?
- If I solve it, what will happen?
- How hard is it going to be to solve?
- What if I do nothing?
- Prove that you can fix it.
- What will I have to risk to do so?
There are a multitude of thoughts and questions that occur to people after they've learned something relevant to them. To show your prospects the next step means to answer the questions that the content they've just read may have provoked.
This is why I continuously talk about content strategy, editorial calendars, storylines, buyer personas and problem-to-solution scenarios.
Showing your prospects the next steps doesn't just happen by accident. It takes planning.
It was pointed out to me the other day that no matter how I think a prospect will work through answering all their questions, they'll do it however it works for them. This is a valid point - the way people think is not as predictable as we'd like.
The crux is that if you don't plan for and develop content to show next steps, you won't have it available for whenever the time comes to provide an answer they're seeking.
The other factor is that if you develop your content to continuously evolve the concepts and ideas you're sharing in a progressive manner, you have a better shot at keeping your prospects engaged with your story. And that level of engagement is what will eventually cause them to raise their hands and reach out to get more answers - the ones they need right now that they expect you to have.
And that's exactly what you want them to do.