The other day I spoke with a company that sounded like they really had a grasp on their content marketing programs. It appeared that they were doing everything well. They segment their lists, they provide great content their buyers will find helpful and they employ marketing automation to monitor behavior and tune their efforts.
As they were telling me about the solution they wanted to create higher adoption for in a specific industry, I asked a lot of questions and started hearing a recurrance of two issues:
- They were having a hard time creating priority recognition and opt in.
- Once they'd accomplished that, prospects moved along nicely and the handoff to sales went well — and then stalls would occur resulting in no decision to move forward.
The first issue is rather common. We don't start early enough in the buying process. We assume that our prospects know they need our solution, they just need to decide to buy it from us — instead of someone else.
This is the first bottleneck in the demand generation process. We've failed to address our prospects' status quo situation. We're already too far ahead of where they are to be relevant.
People are masters of the work-around. Most of your prospects probably have PhDs in work arounds. Making tweaks to what they have in order to continue to get the job done is the most acceptable level of change for both people and companies.
Think about all the things you could do (probably should do) to make your life easier, more fulfilling and happier, but you put off because it's too much trouble to change right now. Maybe next week, you think. And, pretty soon you've "next-weeked" yourself into next year. It's the same thing for your prospects.
Maybe they don't know why they should change.
Maybe they don't understand the cost of the way they're doing it now.
Maybe they don't have enough confidence that change will get them what they want.
Maybe it just seems to darned hard.
Go figure out their status quo and create content that addresses their current reality and how things can be better, faster, easier, more lucrative, etc. if they consider alternatives.
The objective with status quo content is to get them to open their mind to new possibilities and arouse their curiosity enough to get them to look into what change might mean for them. Not to sell.
What you want them to do is to learn enough to agree that the issue is worthy of a priority position on their to do list and to start investigating what that means by asking for more information — in other words, opting in to get more of your content.
The second issue is what I call Step Backs during the buying process. It's what happens when prospects have been moving through the pipeline nicely and suddenly stall. This is when the "what if..." scenario stomps on the brakes.
What if my users won't adopt the new system like you say they will?
How can I be sure we won't run over budget getting the results you promised?
Oh, wait - how will this new process impact Mary's team in product design?
Maybe the risk is really higher than I thought...
Your job as a content marketer is to figure out what all these hesitations can be and create content and sales collateral that can be used to address them, alleviating your prospects' concerns, or the concerns of other stakeholders that may arise at the last minute.
Go talk to your salespeople and your customers (newer customers are optimal because the process is still fresh in their minds). Find out what kinds of concerns customers had and learn about the conversations your salespeople have with prospects at each stage that produce a change in behavior. Learn the good changes as well as the bad as you can use both to design compelling content that keeps momentum from stalling.
Figure out where the bottlenecks in your pipeline occur (not just these two places) and create content that will serve as a pipe cleaner to clear the way to more decisions being made in your favor. Sometimes, as with the conversation I noted at the beginning of the post, talking with someone outside of the process can help highlight things you won't see because you're too close to it.