Think about the last time you went to a retail store, car dealership, or really, any business where you’re considering a transaction. It’s a universal experience, feeling that sense of dread as a salesperson comes up to you before you even finish stepping into the establishment. Nine times out of 10, you’ll likely say, “just looking” when they ask how they can help. That dread may even border on frustration if you feel like you can’t look around and assess your options without that person lingering over your shoulder.

That same is true for B2B; 77% of B2B buyers say they wouldn’t speak to a salesperson until they do their own research. Further, 50-90% of the buyer’s journey is complete before that person interacts with sales.

The changing buying landscape presents a unique opportunity for startup content marketers. We can educate our audience through quality content throughout their journey, so they ultimately decide that your offering uniquely solves their challenge. But you have to ensure your content is working for you, not against you. And to do that, you have to avoid the all-too-common but detrimental mistake of leading with the sell.

From Store to Blog Post

When creating content, always start with your goal and your audience, specifically where they are in their customer journey. Someone in the early stages may only have a vague understanding of their challenges, or not even know what their challenges are. That’s where your content can play an instrumental role in educating them and laying the groundwork. But, if the second sentence of your article says something to the effect of, “Our startup solves this problem for you through our product…,” you may alienate that potential buyer before they get to line three.

With 96% of visitors reporting not being ready to buy when they’re exploring a company’s website, this snafu will most likely result in a hard pass from that once-potential buyer (with one or two eye rolls along the way as they exit that browser). What will get you further is writing a substantial and well-researched piece of educational content that outlines the challenge at large and provides a unique point of view about the topic. Going this route will show the potential buyer that you’re a thought leader in your space, and you’ll have a greater likelihood of piquing their interest to learn more.

You may only have one shot to get it right; 19% of customers said they only give a brand one chance to fail before they leave. Start out strong and you’ll increase your likelihood of that potential buyer becoming a loyal customer. 

But, What About Our Offering?

If you’re a content marketer, you likely know that leading with the sell isn’t advisable to land with audiences. However, non-marketers or leadership teams may not have this same knowledge. Talk to them about using content at different activation points in the funnel, using research like the points above to illustrate the power of the right content to the right audience and the right time.

Once your audience understands the challenge and gets more acquainted with your company, then you can delicately and strategically start discussing your unique offering through customer testimonials, case studies, and other more product-focused content. Here’s how you can understand the funnel:

  • The awareness stage, aka top of the funnel. Use content to educate potential buyers and build your industry authority.
  • The consideration stage, aka middle of the funnel. Now, your content can get deeper into your audience’s challenge by sharing use cases where your product generated major gains.
  • The decision stage, aka bottom of the funnel. This type of content is generally thought of as sales enablement materials. This is when you get into your specific features with one pagers, product demos, and more.

Research shows that knowing your funnel is often a key determinant in driving revenue. For example, top-of-funnel inefficacy is responsible for up to 37% of missed conversion expectations. But, when you get it right, you’ll see the tides turn drastically. When accounting for per dollar spent, content marketing generates nearly three times as many leads as other traditional marketing activities.

It’s All About Relevance

Once you understand how to activate different parts of your funnel, you can also explore ways to create targeted content to forge deeper relationships with your audience. After all, 60% of consumers enjoy reading relevant content from brands, with relevant being the key word in that sentence.

Make your content sticky with your audience by investing in tools, surveys, or any methods to gather pertinent information. Then, you ensure you’re serving each audience the types of content they’re interested in, rather than putting out a one-size-fits-all piece of collateral that may resonate with a much smaller population.

Speak directly to your audience and experience the benefits you’ll accrue by getting personal:

  • Companies that use email subject lines with a recipient’s name, job title, recent purchase, or any other kind of personalization have a 50% greater chance that that person will open that email. 
  • Companies go all in on personalization generate 40% more revenue than their competitors. 
  • Personalization reduces acquisition cost by up to 50%

Going that extra mile to go from generic to specific will empower your startup to drive major efficiencies, truncate costs, and build your brand loyalty.

Content is an important part of your holistic marketing strategy. Interested in how to build this plan from soups to nuts? Check out our latest blog post on getting your marketing strategy’s fundamentals rights to build for the future.

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