You are ready to take your content marketing to the next level. Until now, you have been producing mostly mid and late stage content.
Your content supports the sales process and effectively communicates the value of your solutions to prospects.
Now, you are ready to use content marketing to raise the profile of your company overall.
Content that drives overall visibility for your company is different. To broadly improve your visibility within your market, you need to focus this content marketing initiative on the priorities your target audience has when they are not in market for or considering your solutions.
Identifying where to focus your Stage Zero content efforts can be an unnatural process for marketers accustomed to focusing on the buying process. Here is how to find an area of focus in seven steps.
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1. Get To Know Your Audience
It has been said a million times, but it is still critical. In this case, you need to know your audience’s priorities, opportunities and challenges. This perspective should be completely independent of your business and your offerings. (Remember, this process is only for identify the area of focus for Stage Zero content).
2. Evaluate Your Offerings
Your solution may not exactly match any of the topics identified above. In most cases, it will not, particularly the more senior your target audience is and the more specific your solution is. For this step, you simply need to understand how your offerings relate to your audience’s primary focus.
Up until here, this is hopefully information you already have.
3. Identify The Adjacencies
Where do your offerings come close to your audience’s priorities? Where do the line up exactly? Identify two or three opportunities that would allow you to focus on their priorities and easily bridge to your offerings.
Eloqua has done a great job of focusing on content marketing as a topic, a priority for the demand generation marketers who are driving adoption of marketing automation platforms.
Hubspot has focused on inbound marketing, a smaller step for the, but still a significant expansion on their offering as digital marketing software and platform provider.
4. Review Your Potential Competitors
Your new content marketing efforts introduce a new set of potential competitors. For instance, if a database firm chooses to focus on business intelligence and the business applications of their data, they need to consider new competitors like Microstrategy.
Review the content marketing and PR efforts of the companies you will be competing with for visibility in this space.
5. Select Your Area of Focus
Considering both your potential content marketing competitors and the areas where your audience’ priorities come closest to your offerings, decide where to focus your content marketing efforts. Aligning this focus to your audience’s priorities is critical.
Building recognized expertise will take a year or more, and it forms a foundation you can continue to build on for years to come. This is not a decision to take lightly.
6. Develop Your Expertise
To compete in content marketing, you cannot fake your expertise for long. Your objective is to establish yourself as a thought leader or practice expert with the individuals that are already expert in this category.
Developing your company expertise will likely require new hires. Ideally, it will also include new education and training for everyone in a client facing role in your organization.
7. Join and Drive the Conversation
Your content needs to create conversation and dialogue in the market on an ongoing basis. This effort needs a full content strategy and plan to ensure you and your content becomes a respected fixture in your industry. (Again, consider the example of Hubspot in inbound marketing, referenced above.)
This type of content marketing isn’t for everyone. There is opportunity in many markets still to focus content marketing on the people that are in market for a solution and those researching the category directly.
However, for companies looking to maximize the profile of their company through content marketing and able to commit the resources needed to the effort, identifying an area of focus that positions you to connects with the broadest segment of your audience is critical.
Will we see a major trend towards companies using content marketing to broadly differentiate themselves in the market, or will companies focus on using content in the buying process? Share your thoughts below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).