Match Your Content to Your Prospect’s Stage in the Sales Cycle

Content Flow Chart BlackboardAs marketers, we are constantly challenged by the various forms of communication now available to us, and perplexed as to which one(s) to choose that will be most effective in delivering content and messages to our target audience.

These communications methods (“demand generation avenues” in sales parlance) are in a constant state of flux as consumers/potential customers are directed in a variety of directions based on search terms used in Internet searches. There are thousands of websites that may contain applicable content to the potential customer. So, where do you spend your time, money, and effort to be sure you reach your target audience?

The Content Marketing Institute offers free webinars from time to time on a variety of topics. Most recently, I attended one on the “State of Demand 2013.” The focus of the webinar was on the current state of demand generation and what consumers want and need from marketing communications. Mathew Sweezey, Manager of Marketing Research and Education at Pardot (a company), was the speaker.

Sweezey suggests that there are cycles that need to be understood in order to layer your sales approach. Customers are 2/3 of the way through the sales cycle by the time they reach out to you and may be ready to buy services. 98% of people start their search for services on Google, but their search definitions change as they refine their search terms. They go through this cycle 3-4 times before narrowing their actions to stage 2.

  • Stage One:  Unidentified need (content should be about them, not you)
  • Stage Two:  Need, but do not have budget/buying authority
  • Stage Three: Need urgent and authority to buy. They have a short list (content is about you and what you have to offer)

Content needs to be drafted with these stages in mind. For example, at Stage One, prospects are just conducting general searches to identify content and educate themselves. Content provided at this stage would be general information about the subject or direct people to others who are thought leaders on the subject. Posting this type of information to websites or microsites, and positioning for good SEO results is are key elements.

At Stage Two, you want to draft content that provides social proof. What are others doing in this area? Content may include case studies or examples of key players in an industry who have had success in the subject area. It demonstrates how to use the services, information or products to be successful. Case studies or short videos or a white paper about what others are doing may also be useful.

Finally, at Stage Three, you want them to know how you can help them. Include specific information about you, your company and services and connect their needs to how you can provide assistance.

In short, focus your general web or blog content on things that are about them; focus your email marketing about what others are doing that may apply to their specific needs, and then focus your ‘sales pitch’ in person on what you have to offer that is targeted to meet their needs.

This allows you to segment and target your content most efficiently.

Important Lessons in Law Firm Content Marketing from Down Under

AustraliaA recent post on the Legal Marketing Association‘s listserv included a link to an article titled “Explaining the Value of Content to Marketing Dinosaurs.”

The article provides great advice on convincing those who still think about and expect to use marketing techniques developed in the dark ages — that is, the age before the Internet. The article came from King Content, an Australian company.

The Aussies have been on the cutting edge of law firm content curation for years. They have long been leaders in knowledge management, categorizing law firms’ intellectual capital in ways that make it useful to both the lawyers as well as their clients. Their practices speed the delivery of services and reduce costs using methods that U.S. firms are just now being pressured to do.

These Australian firms (including, for example, Cooper Grace Ward in Brisbane, which has written about “Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession“) use technology platforms, social media best practices, knowledge transfer and retention and precedents management. They use these methods to reduce their costs and time to delivery of work product in ways that allow them to manage client demands for alternative fee arrangements and highlight the importance of managing knowledge. As a result, they ensure a competitive edge in a market where “shopping legal services and comparisons to firms” are becoming more common.

U.S. firms have much to learn about how these foreign firms have used content to develop a law firm practice model that places them in a competitive advantage. Marrying firm-developed content with news and references to other sources of information on a subject is crucial to the long-term success of firms that need to differentiate themselves in the highly competitive global legal markets.

Happy 10th Birthday, cc:Clients!

cakeTen years ago, when we launched cc:Clients, “curating content” and “content marketing” were, if not unheard of, at least unpopular and untested activities for professionals.  Today, as cc:Clients celebrates its 10th birthday, we consider ourselves pioneers in this exciting and effective marketing strategy – and, we’re thrilled to launch the next phase of our service.

E-mail marketing that incorporates hand-selected news content for professional service firms remains the core of our business. But, because identifying the most relevant and highest-quality news online has become even more important as mobile and social media outlets are now commonplace, we have expanded the scope of our services to help law firms and others successfully market their practices.

Specifically, here’s what we’ve been working on lately at cc:Clients:

  • Our new logo reflects our new direction: Modern, simple with an emphasis on providing our customers with highly targeted, news-based content for use across a variety of platforms – e-mail, microsites, blogs, social media outlets and more.
  • Our new website also conveys the same message. While content always will remain king, a good-looking platform is one of its best tools, and we think our new website makes clear that cc:Clients is, like our own customers, dressed for success.
  • Our new products are an integral part of the content curating and content marketing services that we helped make popular. Now, not only are we providing e-mail newsletters for our customers with relevant and timely news content via our well-established Editorial DNA℠ process, but we’re expanding the vehicles in which this curated news can be conveyed, so our customers can reach their clients in numerous ways.
  • And, finally, our new director of sales and marketing, Carol Todd Thomas, will help us accomplish all of this. A tremendously experienced professional with more than 25 years of service to regional and international law firms, Carol knows what our customers’ clients want, and she’s ready to deliver.

We look forward to helping our current customers take advantage of everything cc:Clients has to offer, and we’re excited about growing our own business – just as we’ve helped our customers do so for the past decade.