Create content for your customers, not yourself

Use customer info, buying stage and triggers to build a customer-centric content calendar

Content marketers do not agree on everything, but most align on one core truth: content must be created to meet the needs of the customer.

Sounds obvious, right?

However, in many cases this is one of the first things that brands forget when they start creating content.

So how does it happen?

To put it simply, they lose sight of the reason they are creating content – to benefit their customer. This often happens because the people that make brands tick are so far in the weeds that they forget that the content is not for them. What the internal team finds interesting may not be what the customer needs or wants.

Here’s an example

Imagine an e-commerce company figures out a way to use clever coding to significantly reduce the time and number of clicks it takes for a customer to buy a product from their mobile app.

A company creating content with their own interests in mind might write the article focusing on the technology, the code and how they manipulated it to convert more customers. The customer could care less.

A company writing for the customer takes the same story and tells it differently – they write a story that tells the customer that their new app update includes easier one-click shopping.

This is not to say the tech-based article doesn’t have value. If you have a tech-based audience. It might be perfect. But if you’ve identified content as a way reach a consumer customer, the story probably won’t resonate or move them towards the desired action.

How to use customer data, stage and triggers to make sure the content is for them, not you

Know your customer.  Using both data and intuitive insights, build out a customer persona that you can turn to when evaluating content ideas. By digging into the demographics that you have, like Google Analytics or Facebook data, you can get a feeling for who’s on your website and reacting to your social media. Use information that you intuitively or anecdotally know about your customer, like interests or personality traits you learned meeting them face to face or talking to them on the phone. Combine both of those things with the products they like and buy from you. Use all of this to define a fictional persona (or two) that summarizes your customer and include things like age, gender, where they live, interests, type of work they do, education, what they read, TV shows they watch – you may even give them a name. With a persona established, when you are thinking about a specific piece of content you can ask yourself, would “Sarah” like this? Would “Pete” read this?

How close are they to buying? Most business, regardless of whether its B2B or B2C can fit their customer into a few high-level categories that define how close they are to buying.  We define them as awareness, consideration, validation and advocate. They break down like this:

  • Awareness – aware there is a need or a problem and are likely starting to research a solution
  • Consideration – they’re considering options available to them based on their unique need
  • Validation – they make an actual purchase and ultimately become a customer
  • Advocate – they love you so much they shout it from the rooftops (or Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn)

Knowing the stage a customer is in helps define the content that will resonate and move them closer to a purchase.

Think about what triggers are motivating their purchase. Once you know more about a customer (persona) and their stage in the buying process, start thinking about the types of life-stage triggers that would have them considering your product or service. For example, if you sell adult running shoes and you have a customer that is in the awareness stage, ask yourself what changed in their life that has them looking for a new pair of shoes. Answers could include a new workout plan, old shoes wore out or having a problem with feet or current shoes.

Use all three to build a customer-centric content calendar

With the persona, stage and trigger work done, start defining stories that make sense for each persona, for each stage of buying, and for every trigger you are able to define to develop working concepts or headlines.

If you follow this path for each person and the triggers at each stage – you have a great calendar that’s sure to speak to your entire audience – not just your team. In short, you’ll have a customer-centric content calendar.

Of course, you’ll also need to tie in things like determining the proper content type (written, video, etc.), insert a measure of SEO, channel strategy and a distribution plan – but that’s for another blog post!