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Sales and Marketing Software

The Goals of Late Stage Digital Content

By Bob Johnson, VP & Principal Analyst

Vendor and agencies are really struggling to improve their content creation efforts around the last buying stages. You know, when the shortlist is created, a decision is pending and a larger group of individuals are around the buying table - often with very different agendas.

IDG Connect still sees most organizations’ digital content creation stuck at the front-end, driven by demand generation requirements rather than the buyer’s journey. I wrote some time ago about needing new goals or MBOs for content creators that focus on the entire buy cycle as part of a modified content strategy, and last week spoke of how Content Operations is needed as a function to bring about needed changes. But as we pursue taking a more strategic approach to content we still have to repurpose, refresh and create digital assets and conversations to feed the beast!

This is the first part in a two part series about later stage content with our first focus on goals and then on content elements. Each will provide nine (that’s right nine!) key points that you can use to get specific with your team. But one thing has to be said again and again. None of this will matter if you don’t understand the key questions, topical needs, value objectives and areas of risk faced by buying team members that must be answered throughout the purchase process. You must stop others from saying that they know the customer based upon their experience and opinion. Validate it with original research that hears the voice of buyers, leverage that into alignment, close gaps and then use it not only to guide you but also in new content that offers a peer-based perspective.

The Goals of Later Stage Content

In marketing efforts you want to be visible through awareness, have consistent presence where your prospective buyer ventures or hang outs, be known for your expertise that stands out and is differentiated from others and combine these into legitimacy. Well, when you are at the later stages you have legitimacy in most cases; otherwise you would never have made the shortlist in the first place. So if we now have a place at the table, what are the goals of late stage content?

  1. Clear descriptions: enable internal selling by making sure that content is clearly described in terms of target audience member. This must be short, focused and has legs, that is, it has insight that is bulleted, in list form, offered as steps, all of which promote sharing.
  2. Repeat benefits: reinforce value propositions and differentiation (stress ongoing value it will deliver, added value that will enhance what the customer can do and new value in how it will change competitive rules to their advantage).
  3. Know your prospects: address expanded buying team with end-stage assets that address those within IT and outside, as well as those who take a business impact approach versus others who are financial or technical. Again, make sure those assets are clearly delineated as being for those individuals otherwise your champion will not know the best sharing paths to take.
  4. Label assets: stay at decision maker focus because this is the time for strategic emphasis. Label your assets as being for the executive, financial, technical decision maker or segment by functional area. But stay high-level, not speaking in generalities but using key challenges, major needs, competitive opportunities or other headings that showcase an area that impacts strategic initiatives.
  5. Focus on results: talk about your offerings as they relate to the challenges more so than overall trends. Keep in mind now is the time to strut your stuff. Yes, continue to educate but more importantly reinforce how you will make a difference and what the results will be to each buying team member, based on their focus.
  6. Place a deadline: accelerate the decision process by offering limited time access from assets to expert insight or access to additional resources. Make sure your digital content connects back to what is most important…you!
  7. Include Sales: enable sales to have a consultative discussion and make it clear to them what should be used with different individuals who they encounter. Later stage efforts are not the time to take an approach where you cover all segments in a single asset. Rather have short, concise assets that answer specific questions. Let sales and partners use those answer to engage and be a liaison rather than a conduit. Always strive to have your salespeople be more knowledgeable than expected through content that connects the prospect to your organization, through the sales person. Remember the salesperson who teaches the buyer something important they did not know gains confidence and often the deal. Make sure each of those assets can be used to step through a discussion, pose open and close ended probes. Remember, the end of the cycle is where risk and control issues are most rampant and buyers demand that their agendas be met.
  8. Let buyers’ compare: manage late stage competitive thrusts though competitive comparison frameworks that is simple to see and use. We are not talking about direct comparison of your offering versus another but instead use a matrix approach to enable the buyer to compare alternatives against a set of criteria categories and elements.
  9. Third party insight: speak to the decision makers through decision makers, by getting your executives to participate in the creation of CxO to CxO communications such as brief videos, audio clips or documents. They must show that your leadership has vision, awareness of challenges and interest in a shared strategy to enable innovation and measurable business results.

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Bob Johnson

VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect

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