Align your content to the sales cycle

Here's a key finding from an article on the results from MarketingProfs' B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends:

Align your content with the buying cycle. According to the survey results, the most effective content marketers are more likely to segment their content based on the buying cycle (45% of best in class versus 39% of industry average and 29% of "laggards").

How do you align content with the sales and buying cycles?

It's as easy as A, B, C:

A. Define the cycle: Start by talking with your sales and/or biz dev team to chart the typical cycle. This will help you understand the different topics you need to cover in content development.

B. Determine the topics: Ask the sales/biz dev team to help you make a list of common questions and objections they get from prospects so you can create content that addresses those head-on. It's also worth chatting with your CRM/call center/receptionist to see what kinds of calls they get from prospects and new customers. Take this big ol' list of topics and map it to your sales process. Not sure where something goes? Ask the experts!

C. Make a calendar: Put your cycle on a calendar and then drop the topics in where they belong. Chances are good (really good) that there will be some periods with tons of topics and others without many or any. You'll also probably find some topics that could be combined or jettisoned, and maybe even a few that need to be added. Again, engage your cycle experts to help you determine the final line-up, based on purpose, relevance and frequency (i.e., you may not want to post a boatload of content on one day). You'll also want to line this up against any other editorial calendars you have to get the complete picture.

This is the easiest way I know to map your content to your sales/biz dev cycle and make your content marketing more relevant. We've taken a handful of clients through this process and it's helped us get buy-in and identify SMEs in addition to being a kick-ass planning tool.

To get you the rest of the way, check out these posts: