Prospects that are going through the buying process have different content needs at different stages of the buying process. Early on (likely even before they are a known lead to you) they will likely be looking for more information on the industry you are in, tips for doing things well in that industry, and other general best practices that will help them build up a case that this is something we should even consider doing. Later down the pipeline, as they get to the opportunity stage within your organization, that type of content probably won't be as helpful as comparison content to other vendors, or content that highlights specific features that solve the pain your prospect has.
Early stage content is crucial to building awareness about your brand and establishing your company's presence as a thought leader. Some examples of early stage content are videos, infographics, and blog content. The following are three important things to keep in mind when building out your early stage content strategy:
1) Make it Free
It's pretty tempting to put any content that you produce behind a form or ask for something in return, and rightfully so, as you put in time and potentially money to make that content. However, it is really important to fight the urge and keep that content as free as possible. Remember, the goal with early stage content is to build brand awareness and establish thought leadership for what you do, not necessarily to get new names in the marketing database. If and when those people decide that they need to make a purchase of what you sell, you can be sure that because of this strategy you'll be one of the people that is brought to the table.
2) Make it Shareable
Again, with the goal of building brand awareness, creating a means for people to easily share the content with others will amplify the reach of your content. This can be done relatively easy by adding a tweet button, like button, and other types of sharing tools that are available to your content. You want to make it as easy as possible to share the content, so make sure that you place these buttons in a spot that will be easily noticed by the reader.
3) Get it in as Many Outlets as Possible
This applies more to things like an infographic and videos then something like a blog post (although having an RSS feed option will get your content in their inbox as well), but having a strategy to where you want to get your content placed beyond your branded presence online is important to creating further reach and building brand awareness. This may mean reaching out to other industry thought leaders, possibly doing a press release, or doing a guest post on another site to build the reach of your content.
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