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From the Trenches

Why You Need Better Content, Not Just More Content

Mike Sweeney | January 19, 2012

As part of a marketing evaluation we delivered to a client this week, we covered Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and in particular how the volume of indexed content plays a major role in the success of any SEO effort. The situation was simple: one of this company’s biggest competitors showed hundreds of indexed content pieces, and our client showed around ten. Game, set, match to the competitor, right?

Not so fast, my content marketing friends.

First, think about the sales funnel:

While there’s no universally accepted set of steps in the sales funnel, I typically use the following:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Evaluation
  • Commitment
  • Referral

While volume of content is important, in the B2B world in particular, churning out content generates traffic that typically fills the top of the sales funnel—the awareness phase. So what’s a marketer to do about the middle and bottom of the sales funnel?

Create better content, not necessarily more content.

Thinking in particular about the Interest, Evaluation, and Commitment steps, here are a few tips on creating better content for the middle of the sales funnel

1. Get Sp­­­ecific

Not all buyers are created equal. They occupy different roles. They work for different types of organizations. They have different budgets. They have different needs.

You can’t necessarily create content for each individual, but what you can do is create content for groups, whether it be by buyer persona, type of organization, or size of company. Most importantly, write about specific situations that groups of your prospective customers are dealing with.

And by all means, if you can name names, do so.  The difference between saying  “a professional services firm used our product to increase lead volume by 200%” vs. “Sweeney, Davis and Scaffani, an accounting firm located in Baltimore, MD, used our product to increase lead volume by 200%” = priceless.

2. Provide Data

Especially in the earlier stages of the sales funnel, before the prospect knows you or your company well, every claim is met with a certain level of skepticism. Sure, in the sales process you build one on one trust—but that takes time.

So what’s the quick way to start to remove that skepticism?

Back everything up with data, and preferably data from a trusted source outside of your own organization.

3. Ditch the Marketing Speak

Let me guess. Your product is cloud-based. It offers seamless integration with the most widely used SaaS applications. It’s a platform, but it’s also a full-featured solution.

Some of this marketing speak is unavoidable, but cut down on it before you publish. As buyers see more and more content, they will start to tune out your buzzwords and devalue your content.

4. Get Visual

Visuals – in the form of charts, graphs, infographics, photos and more – are essential to content, especially case studies, eBooks, white papers and brochures. Not only do they help break up long copy, but for some readers they will represent the single eye-catching and informative element that helps them remember the company that authored the content.

5. Say Something Original

With the explosion of published content, both in print and on the web, it’s easy to assume that your original thoughts aren’t that original after all. And yet every week, month, and year, new thought leaders emerge with original ideas, or at least new slants on previous ideas. Find a way to be original – in message, tone, attitude, or approach.

After all, they do call it “thought leadership,” not “thought following.”

Following this advice will help you avoid making the mistake of publishing content that appeals to search engines instead of humans. In any content planning effort, think about creating content to help your salespeople as they move buyers through the funnel.

What other tips do you have for creating better content? Tell us in the comments section.

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About Mike Sweeney:

As Right Source’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Sweeney creates, plans, and implements our vision, mission, culture, and strategic direction as well as serving as an advisor to our clients. Mike received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Notre Dame and has more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing strategy, including digital, content, and marketing technology. You can find Mike on LinkedIn.