Great content roadmaps result from two things: customer obsession and organizational alignment. The first refers to the need to go beyond sectors and segments to deep knowledge of the customer and their needs, which is ever-changing and dynamic. The second is how you as an organization act on that information in an efficient and effective way and create simple processes to continuously learn and anticipate customer information needs.
Lately, Forrester has been talking a lot about being “customer obsessed”. One of the main tenets is the power the customer has as a tech-enabled, highly connected buyer regardless if they are a consumer or a large enterprise buyer. The trick is finding the “little gems of insight” that allow an organization to be present with information that addresses burning needs or advances their learning and understanding.
In reality, finding the “little gems” is just the starting point of a content forensics process that overlays multiple pieces of data from multiple sources to create deep insights into:
- What specific decision-makers want to know
- Where they go to find the information
- Who they trust to give them straight answers and accurate, objective information
- When the person is most open to that information
- Why they care and the pain points that are driving them mad
Content Forensics can be broken down into six steps that comprise a replicable process for each decision-maker and for each LOB or product line. The process includes:
Persona Creation. One of the most important parts of persona work is mapping the “day in the life” of your buyers. This typically happens after a ton of research including 1:1 interviews to uncover demographic profile, role and responsibilities, buying influences, information preferences, communication style, go-to places, internal interdependencies, current projects and programs that can trigger a purchase cycle. The resulting persona gives us insights into how to create intimacy and relevance; the day in the life snapshot demonstrates how difficult it is to break through and really engage the buyer. This is important information for the roadmap and amplification approach.
Buyer Journey. Once a clear picture of the buyer emerges, the next step is to get inside his/her head and go on a buying journey. This involves defining a buying trigger and then looking for the information needed by the buyer at various points of path-to-purchase. It is important to create journeys for each person in the buying center and overlay findings to inform the content roadmap in a meaningful way.
Topic Modeling. The journey uncovers holes and roadblocks that the buyer faces when looking for information. This information provides the starting point for the content modeling process which overlays multiple inputs to discover the topics of highest interest and need of each persona. The goal is to hone in on topics that drive action and interest while providing a differentiating POV.
Audit. The journey and modeling provide a framework for auditing content against a strategic framework which is born from a real-life understanding of what buyers want and need. This takes the auditing away from an inventory to more of an assessment of what the organization can leverage and what new content will really matter.
Market Timing. Another set of inputs provides forensic data to determine best time to publish or amplify content dealing with specific topics for a specific persona.
Roadmap. Voila. Now an evidence-based, faceted roadmap can be created that plots the topics and type of content needed for each point of the journey for each pertinent persona in the buying center.
The content forensics approach makes content resources work smarter and more efficiently. It uncovers the points in the journey where your content is already acting as an excellent brand proxy while also discovering points where your content is missing in action or inappropriate for the buyer’s needs. The process has natural refresh cycles that provide ongoing insights to keep customer obsession alive. The forensics process also uncovers valuable information needed to drive buyers to your content through a combination of earned, paid and owned assets and campaigns.
The content forensics approach helps provide a common thread across the content production function in the organization, which is typically dispersed and often siloed. Along with external data, each node in the content organization (marketing, PR, product, sales, etc.) contributes some of the pertinent pieces of information that are essential for the forensics process. Socializing how all the nodes work together to create a more effective organization sparks better alignment and shared responsibility for content ROI.
Kathy’s forte is enterprise content strategy, content marketing and thought leadership. Over the past 40 years, she has worked with both emerging brands and large enterprises in developing content and thought leadership strategies. She has written several research reports, white papers and has been a key contributor to Forbes Publish or Perish Report.