A good marketer never puts a piece of content in front of a customer without including a strong call to action, like a URL that leads them somewhere they can learn more about a product, or an e-commerce area where they can make a purchase directly.
A great marketer, however, will do something even more critical before that piece of content ever goes out: determine the “call to consume” that drew the customer there in the first place.
It’s tempting to assume, for example, when you produce a white paper, infographic, blog post or any other asset that gets managed and tracked via Marketing Cloud, that the customer’s call to consume was a desire to be sold on something. More likely, though, the product is a means to an end -- a way of getting them closer to a business goal, relieving them of an ongoing headache, or both.
Even if you’ve segmented your customer list -- and even if those segments have had a particular customer persona developed around them -- thinking through the call to consume means going a step further. It means thinking not only about what you want them to do when they’re done, but what gaps they still need to fill in terms of information, assurance or motivation.
Although you could start this exercise as early as the moment you conceive of the content, it might also be a step you include during the final review process before you add it to your online resource centre or begin promoting it via email or social media.
Just use the checklist below and think about how you could answer these questions -- whether the customer voiced them aloud or merely subconsciously:
Sometimes buyers are looking into a certain topic or opportunity on their own, but in many cases they’ve been assigned to do so by whomever they report into. Managers and their teams are put on these fact-finding missions so they can contribute meaningfully to business case discussions and, later on, buying committee conversations.
This is where you’ll want to think about how you can easily synthesize and/or summarize the more comprehensive assets, like a white paper or research report, in a way that lets someone easily convey the bottom-line details that can make the boss happy. Some options include an executive summary, a sidebar or call-out box, or even a checklist like this one that they can bring forward.
In some cases, a business will want to gain a first-mover advantage in adopting new technology, entering a new market or capitalizing an industry trend. In other cases -- especially where there’s a lot of risk involved -- they may be quite content to be a “fast follower” or even late adopter if it means their competitors can work through the glitches and learning curve on their behalf.
This kind of information doesn’t have to be a formal benchmark. Just remember: things like case studies are powerful because we like to see ourselves in the content we consume. Data about our peers in similar organizations can help reinforce whatever decision we’re trying to make.
There probably isn’t a company in Canada -- or on Earth -- that is focused on only one issue. Some firms are going through a cost-cutting exercise, others are installing new machinery, some are aggressively hiring and so on. They may have other, more explicit projects or initiatives that consuming a lot of resources.
If the content you’re creating is suggesting any kind of new area of investment or activity, it’s probably a good idea to talk in some way about how your audience will need to reallocate resources, get more budget or merely how to get the attention of the leadership team when there’s already so much else on their plate.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever procrastinated! Keep it raised it your organization has sometimes been slow to make big changes.
Good content not only gives ideas or brings the audience up to speed -- it creates urgency when and where it’s needed. Think about what would happen, for instance, if whoever consumes the content simply ignored what it suggested they do. Will they fall behind their competitors? Will they lose customers at some point? Is there any danger they might go out of business entirely?
If you don’t have hard stats to back up the answer to this question, you should at least draw upon some real-world examples or insight from your most trusted subject-matter experts.
A lot of marketers will avoid talking about actual pricing or even the actual solutions involved in addressing an issue until the customer is further along in the buying cycle. Unfortunately, things might never move much farther if whomever is consuming the content is unable to paint a realistic picture of the investment required.
This cost isn’t just a dollar figure, either. It can relate to the human resources required, any third parties that might have to be brought into the mix and, of course, the “opportunity cost” of acting on one priority versus all the others.
Fear, uncertainty and doubt, otherwise known as FUD, isn’t always based on irrational thinking. It can be a process of looking critically about the choices available to grow a business and the potential fallout of making the wrong one.
Nobody wants to get fired over what they believed from a blog post, white paper or other piece of marketing content. They need to have the full extent of the risks made clear, along with practical advice about how they’re going to mitigate them.
Most people won’t ask themselves this question directly, but it’s there all the same. You have an opportunity to bring value to the business, but is it going to be a huge uphill battle full of thankless tasks along the way? Or is it going to be something that not only helps the organization but repositions the way your audience is perceived? How might it boost the sense of personal and professional fulfillment they enjoy?
If you’re able to respond to everything we’ve outlined above, you’re bound to answer your audience’s call to consume -- which will make them all the more likely to respond to your call to action.