While you will want to include the insights of senior leadership for content creation, the customer's point of view should take center stage in your content strategy. This customer-centric filter can weed out some of the trial and error methods that content without the customer at the center uses. With the outside-in approach your content sets proper expectations of the value of your product or services and delivers these messages consistently. Otherwise, your customers might feel they're being delivered high promises but empty calories.

Stop obsessing about SEO. Content efforts should be quantified in terms of organic ranking, organic impressions and organic clicks. Sometimes we become so engrossed in mimicking competitors’ keyword strategies that we become part of the content clutter found online. While this tactic might work for start-ups searching for low hanging leads, it's strange to see established brands building content around keywords rather than their offerings. This strategy dilutes a brand’s perceived value and diverts from the true brand experience.

Build a Cohesive Content Plan

To get started, classify content across two components:

  1. Push Components that are sent to the prospects directly -- emails, newsletters, collateral, services, etc.
  2. Search Components that prospects find through search -- websites, articles, blogs, social media etc. These components must be used proportionately and intermittently across three stages of the customer content journey. 

Note: Content is often treated as a siloed function, which doesn't make use of all of the resources a brand has internally. For each of the following strategies, stakeholders’ involvement is critical.

Stage 1 - Create awareness, brand positioning and engagement

During this stage, push components take precedence over search components. This introductory stage is your chance to stand out at a brand level. Some of the questions your content should answer are: what does your brand stand for? How does your brand satisfy incumbent needs? How do you engage with customers? What are your clients saying about your brand? Have sufficient proof to back your answers up to lay a foundation of trust.

Stakeholder Participation: Gain agreement across stakeholders on the positioning and then ask for a commitment to deliver it across touch points.

Stage 2 – Define and refine your offerings

This is one of the most crucial stages in content development. At this stage, push and search components should work in accord to prove the stated benefits of the brand. Depending on the response from stage one in the form of objections or other deterrents, you can start building content offerings around them. Equip sales with a number of options so that they have a variety of content to offer different people. Continue to create informative content so that when prospects search for a solution, you rank high in results and validate your content.

Stakeholder Participation: This stage calls for participation from Sales Reps to assess the response from stage one. Cross departmental involvement can help design better content based on concerns prospects have about delivery, quality, price or other decision attributes.

Stage 3 – Retention

A customer sometimes experiences doubt after purchase or during the experience journey. This doubt comes from the realization that other brands could provide the same services just as well. At this point, both push and search content strategy should work across channels to reduce the dissonance and to highlight customer wins. Take post-usage feedback, reviews, ratings, etc. and address them with proper content strategy across channels. The content could suggest uses for the products that customers may be unaware of during purchase.

Stakeholder Participation: At this stage, customer service personnel can be a great source of input to develop your content strategy. Tap into the expertise of technical professionals to suggest alternate uses for the products.

Title image by Thomas Hawk (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC 2.0 license