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Marketing Watchdog Journal
  April 2010, Issue 74

Featured Article
The Art and Science of Creating Effective Content
Excerpt from a Bulldog Solutions and Frost & Sullivan White Paper, "Six Building Blocks for a Content Strategy to Fuel Marketing Automation-Driven Demand Generation"


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There is both science and art involved in understanding what content is effective at each stage of the buying cycle. This white paper excerpt defines one best practice for creating effective content that will attract, engage and convert your prospects to closed deals. Exclusive for Marketing Watchdog Journal readers: Download the complete white paper.

Building Block 3: Understanding What Makes Content Effective

There is a science and an art to understanding what content is effective at each stage of the buying cycle. On the scientific side, there is a process to mapping the content to the buyer journey and the selling process.

Buying Cycle and Sales Cycle Funnel

The buying cycle above requires different types of content for the three different phases of selling.

Gain Permission

At the beginning of the process, content is required that will attract the attention of the prospect and gain their permission to communicate with them. "Gain permission" means the prospect will identify his or herself via a registration process that captures critical contact information. There are many ways to accomplish this, but the most prevalent tactics are via Web site content that requires a low level of information exchange, such as a newsletter. The unifying theme of this content class is its ability to stand out like a beacon and attract attention.   

Overcome Objections

Once a likely prospect has been identified, additional opportunities must be offered for deeper engagement. These might occur with thought leadership material such as Webinars, in-person meetings or with other opportunities for Marketing to qualify leads. When a lead is handed off from Marketing to Sales, different content needs are dictated by the sales team and the selling process unique to each organization. Typical content requirements for this phase of the selling process include brochures, white papers, ROI/TCO calculators and other content that is designed to be informative or instructive. The unifying theme of this class of content is its ability to educate and manage anticipated buyer objections.

Support Decisions

After the sales engagement process has qualified a prospect to the point where a proposal can be issued or a solution is agreed upon between the buyer and seller, the content needs to shift again. At this point, the solution needs to be reinforced and the buyer needs to understand that the decision to buy is correct. Typical content requirements include proposals, case studies, testimonials, referrals, ROI calculators and endorsements. The unifying theme of this type of content is not to introduce any new evidence but support everything that has been communicated up to this point.

On the "art" side of understanding what content is effective at each stage of the buying cycle, there are three simple things to remember about content:
  • Actionable: Content should illustrate a key need, educate on a specific problem or generally provide some meaningful need for the intended audience.

  • Relevant: Content should always be relevant to the target audience.

  • Timely: Content should be appropriate to the needs of the time; topics should address current needs and describe currently available solutions without being too time-sensitive.
Content Half-Life

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Marketing Watchdog Journal is a monthly newsletter from Bulldog Solutions, an online marketing agency that changes the way BtoB companies define demand-generation strategy, engage prospects and convert leads to customers. We welcome your feedback on this newsletter's content and design, and encourage you to share your ideas for topics you would like us to cover in future issues. Please send your comments or questions about Bulldog Solutions to Amy Bills, director of Field Marketing.

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