Content Mapping for Fun and Profit

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I recently had a chance to talk about the challenges of content at a roundtable hosted by the Northern California Business Marketing Association. At the event, I met a number of marketers who were looking to solve the content conundrum: How do I create and deliver the right content in the right way to drive my prospects to action?

In my presentation, I pointed out that, in a marketing world where technology vendors may be losing 40% of their potential sales due to poor content*, not all content is king. If what you are putting out into the world does not speak to your buyer, or their position in the buying cycle, it is detrimental to marketing success.

In approaching projects for clients, I often think about the cognitive effects of bad content. If the information, presentation, or delivery of content does not resonate with prospects, it can have adverse effects on efforts to gain customers. Remember, buyers are risk adverse–if they see anything bad about your content, it will reflect on their perception of your overall brand and drive them to competitors. Indeed, not all content is king.

I also point out in my presentation that content done right can result in competitive differentiation, awareness, and ultimately, sales. But to achieve this, businesses have to provide the right content for the right prospect at the right time. That’s why all good content starts with the customer in mind. By thinking like a customer, you can produce good content that will take your prospects to the next stage of the buyers’ cycle and improve you brand perception and equity.

Creating and positioning your marketing content to resonate with your prospects begins with the process of content mapping. By defining your buyers, identifying the buyers’ attributes, and creating content to match those attributes, you can hone your marketing efforts to include only highly-effective content. Critical to this is identifying the right type of content for the buyer’s position in the sales cycle. For example, at an early stage of a sales cycle to sell a problem that customer’s don’t know very much about, white papers or video white papers can be effective. Content mapping, in the end, can reduce content creation costs by fighting off the urge to publish content to every audience and encourages content targeted to the right customers, at the right stage of the sales cycle.

At the end of my presentation, I was approached by a marketer from a technology company who asked a very good question—How can marketers navigate all the marketing channels available: websites, social networking, social video, blogs, micro-blogs, mobile devices, and so on. It was a great question, and if I had the definitive answer I would only tell my clients. But I do know that there are a lot of opportunities to deliver countless types of content—videos, interactive presentations, tips & tricks, whitepapers, case studies, personality marketing—and it is our task as marketers to identify what content our prospects are looking for, understand where they are in the sales cycle, and create valuable content in a format they will respond to.

As I told the audience at the event, content can be a problem, but good content truly is king in today’s complex marketing world.

Take a look at the highlights from my presentation:

*IDG Connect, Oct. 2008

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