Are the goals you think of, consciously and non-consciously, the same as they were five years ago? Ten years ago? The chances are, they have changed. For some, changes may be subtle while for others goals have changed substantially.
Significant shifts in buyer behavior as a result of evolving digital technology are causing both buyers and sellers to revaluate their goals. Some goals are explicit and conscious. Others are personal in nature and live in the non-conscious. One thing we can count on is buyer goals are changing. Another thing we can count on is if information from sellers is not aligned with buyer goals, it is likely to generate little demand.
At question for most sellers and marketing organizations is the ability to influence and persuade with information. Recent news about the effectiveness of content marketing suggests the struggle continues. Where companies struggle today is in applying methods and practices, which allow them to make content marketing operational.
To become effective, companies today have to make the all-important tie between buyer goals and making content marketing operational. Without operational thinking, content marketing is prone to become a hit or miss exercise. More times, becoming a miss. What is needed is for companies to build a framework around using content marketing to address buyer goals.
Goal-Directed Content Marketing
The purpose of this article is to suggest a 5-step framework for making content marketing operational as well as aligned to buyer goals. Here are 5 steps briefly reviewed:
Step 1: Establish who your content audiences are
Content marketing ineffectiveness can be related to a narrow view of audiences. With organizations becoming flatter and decisions spreading wider, thinking in terms of a single buyer as your audience is not practical. Thinking must extend to who is most likely to share information as well as understanding with whom.
Step 2: Establish the goals of your content audiences
Understanding why information is important to audiences involves a sense of which goals your audiences are attempting to accomplish. It takes buyer research around goals related to the organization, career, experience, life, and personal. What buyers seek, whether it is explicit or on a non-conscious level, is information, which informs on how buyers can achieve their goals.
Step 3: Evaluate how content helps buyers further their goals
The way information is delivered and shared can either be of help or be a detriment for buyers when they seek to satisfy their goals. An important question is: how can they use information to identify a clear path to accomplishing their goals? Evaluating how buyers will use information to interact with others to fulfill their goals helps to inform how buyers prefer to absorb as well as deliver information.
Step 4: Design content to enable buyers to accomplish their goals
Producing content into modular parts, which can be used on their own, can help buyers to achieve different yet related goals. The important factor here is how enabling your information is to buyers. Does it allow them to take action towards getting their goals fulfilled? For example, will they recognize a path towards achieving a goal through a simple PDF document or does a video provide more clarity?
Step 5: Create goal-based content processes and workflows
Once buyer goals are clear and established on how buyer use information to fulfill goals, you can set up workflows and processes to ensure information is aligned. Evaluate existing content assets and determine how they align to the goals of buyers. Content production should show a clear connection to buyer goals. Understanding goals of buyers helps to inform topics, timing, delivery, and much more.
What is presented above is a brief introduction. The underpinning for putting goal-directed content marketing into practice is the use of buyer insight research to learn about the goals of your buyers. Buyer personas play a role in articulating the goals of buyers as well as their goal-directed buying behaviors.
Goals are a major driver of buying behavior. If buyers see no connection to their goals, they will not act. Therefore, to improve content marketing effectiveness, companies today must orient and make their content efforts operational around goals.
As mentioned earlier, goals will continue to change. Putting a goal-directed framework in place will give you the constant watch to see how and when goals change. Otherwise, when you do find out – it may be too late.
(Need help with becoming goal-directed? Schedule time with me and a conversation to help you. I am very interested in getting your thoughts and perspectives on how goal-directed content marketing can help. Please share widely – your peers and colleagues are trying to achieve their goals.)