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Content Mapping: How Buying Cycles Inform Your Content Strategy

Most B2B marketers recognize that great content has the ability to influence potential customers.

What is not so clear is when to share content and how much to share.

It’s a bit like explaining sex to your kids – When they’re really young they don’t need too much information. But as they grow older, their curiosity intensifies and their questions become more sophisticated. At that point you will need to give them more (age-appropriate) information. If you don’t, they’ll get it one way or the other (yikes!)

What do they need to know

It’s the same thing with your prospects when they’re at different stages of the buying cycle.

You should always ask yourself what their needs are at each stage and what kind of content they require to address those needs. Too much too soon will scare them off and too little too late will send them to the competition.

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Stages of your prospect’s buying cycle

Very early stage – the prospect is probably unaware of their problem. At this point good content could go a long way in making a difference. You want to talk less about your product and more about the challenges they are facing. Best content types at this stage are white papers, ‘lunch and learn’ sessions and interactive webinars.

Early stage – the prospect has identified the problem but doesn’t know what he needs to do about it. At this stage you want to talk about the benefits that your solution provides (not about the product itself). Best content type at this stage is a case study, a benefits-oriented podcast or checklist.

Early Mid stage – the prospect is clear about his needs and has started to consider potential solutions. He wants to know how your product will help him. At this stage it’s time to talk about your product and to demonstrate how it can help him. Best content type at this stage includes a technical brief, a video demo or a webcast.

Mid stage – the prospect needs a clear demonstration of your expertise. Allow him a free trial of your product to confirm whether it suits his needs. Make it easy for him to compare your product to others. Your content will demonstrate the features of your product and how it compares against others in the market. You could also offer him a Q&A interview so that he may ask questions and resolve any concerns.

Late stage – You’re almost there – if you can cross this last hurdle! At this stage the prospect needs a lot of reassurance. Third party validation is required to seal the deal. Your content type should include client testimonials and success stories, special discounts and so on.

Understanding your prospect’s persona and knowing where they’re at in the buying cycle will help you to map content that will capture their attention and influence their decisions. Remember – this might be a time-consuming effort but the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences.

Are you using content mapping as a strategy to influence your prospects’ buying decisions?

**This is the last article in a series that explains the role of content mapping in your organization and how to create content that overcomes resistance/influences buyers’ decisions throughout the buying process.

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