Typically, buyers progress through stages of a buying process from Awareness, to Discovery, to Validation, and have unique content needs at each stage. Marketers who successfully cater their content to buyers at each of these stages do well in guiding and facilitating a buying process that results in revenue for their organization.
The start and end of the buying process are usually well covered by the traditional alignment of roles in an organization. Most marketers are quite experienced in creating the high level thought leadership whitepapers, educational sessions, and industry webinars that are ideal content for the Awareness stage of the funnel. Similarly, sales teams and product marketers are experienced at creating the “why buy us, why buy now” content that is appropriate for the Validation stage of the funnel, but a content gap is left in the middle of the funnel.
In the Discovery stage, prospective buyers have become aware of your solution category and the problems that you solve, and will likely have heard of your organization. Now, they are beginning to formulate their plan for solving the business pain that you solve, discovering vendors who they should investigate more deeply, and scoping the breadth and depth of the initiative in question. It is in this stage that “best practice” content is often most useful.
Depending on your industry and solution, this usually means content and writing that comes from your services team, subject matter experts, product consultants, designers, specialists, or engineers. These are the people who have the knowledge, expertise, and passion to write about what solutions like yours can accomplish, what the challenges and considerations are, and what others in the industry are doing. This is non-salesy content, but it is a level more detailed than the high level thought leadership that is appropriate at the Awareness stage.
The challenge is that these subject matter experts are not marketers, writers, or sales people. Their objectives, motivations, and compensation plans are not generally aligned with generating revenue, moving leads through a buying funnel, or creating great content that is appropriate for the middle of the funnel. Unless addressed, this can leave a critical content gap in the middle of the buying funnel, and lead to an awkward transition as buyers move from high level thought leadership content to much more tactical sales content without the educational transition of content in the Discovery stage.
Successful marketing organizations recognize this content gap, and find ways to motivate, compensate, and encourage the creation of educational, Discovery stage content by subject matter experts, but it can be a difficult process.
Has your organization identified a content gap? How have you dealt with the challenges it presented?