Does Your Content Strategy Reflect
By Kathy Baughman
the Buyer's Journey?
President, ComBlu Inc.
A CFO, a treasurer and a financial analyst all walk into a bar. All three are thirsty but want something different to drink. Their preferences are based on the time of day, their past history, the degree of their thirst and how much time they have to get a drink …
The beginning of a hilarious joke? No, actually, for my purpose of making a few points about content strategy in financial services marketing, this passage provides an apt analogy to the journey that customers take in their search for solutions, resources and partners.
All three people in the passage are in search of the same thing: a drink. And they came to the same place to get it: the bar. In this analogy, let's say the bar is Google and the drink is the information they want. Google is almost always the first stop for decision-makers when they're searching for information. Just as the bar offers every type of liquor, Google serves up a limitless supply of information.
Our three decision-makers are no different. Each uses different search terms and wants different levels of information. The CFO is looking for high-level solutions. The treasurer wants to find three to five solutions and background on the organizations behind them with a preference for existing banking partners. The analyst wants help comparing the solutions and needs far more detail and granular data than either of the other two.
Our decision-makers are all looking for the same thing — information to help them select options, establish a preference set and uncover the right information that will ultimately support their buying decision. Each has different needs at each point of the decision journey and different preferences for content format and viewing channel. The CFO tends to view videos or article briefs on her phone while commuting and then sends content to others to do a deeper dive. The treasurer may prefer reading longer articles or perusing a briefing document from the analyst. The latter wants white papers, product guides and tools that make it easy to compare solutions and create a report for the treasurer, who in turn will brief the CFO.
The level of detail and type of format changes at each point of the journey, as each person's content strategy needs to reflect those changing needs and preferences. In order to accommodate, marketers need to:
- Create an enterprise content strategy that establishes how content will be personalized: segment, persona or person.
- Build content operations that support the strategy and consider all processes such as creation and sourcing, distribution, content architecture, assembly and tracking.
- Augment traditional marketing skills with publishing, data analysis, data visualization, search and omni-channel specialists.
- Foster a culture of collaboration across functions, lines of business and channels.
- Own the marketing technology stack — the business's own mix of marketing software products — and partner with the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to make intelligent platform decisions, which will need to support both the current and future vision of content personalization.
Many organizations that adopt a content strategy which leads to personalized experience at each point of the journey forget that their content also needs to be present "off-property." At several points of the journey, your brand content has little authority or influence. More important is the voice of the customer, the counsel of third-party influencers and the recommendations of valued partners and peers. The recommendation of a new craft vodka by the bartender is much stronger if the patron already has heard about it from friends, read about it in a magazine or seen a YouTube video featuring it in a recipe. This content sways more than an ad or web content. It is even more powerful if the content pushed to you on social networks or through content marketing reflects your preferences for fruity drinks vs. a dry vodka martini.
Even as many CMOs are pushing toward personalized content experiences, some do not have a designated content owner or an enterprise content roadmap or editorial calendar. Many have invested in technology but have not connected the dots across their enterprise to make all of the places that produce content work together in a systematic fashion.
Effective content strategy requires deep insights and customer obsession. After all, our three decision-makers don't always go to the bar for that drink. Sometimes, they celebrate at the homes of friends, meet up at events and other venues, or simply enjoy a sip at home. Knowing their habits, patterns and preferences is the foundation of delivering individualized experiences that contextually matter.
It's an interesting challenge to figure out the needs of each decision-maker at each point of the journey and serve up content that matters to them within the context of their individual needs. The process can seem overwhelming, but if you break it down into a crawl, walk, run strategy, it won't drive you to drink.
ComBlu specializes in content strategy, community building and thought leadership programs. For more information, contact Kathy at
[email protected] or 312-423-4919.
FPS develops, manages and distributes custom business content on behalf of banks and other financial services marketers. We specialize in marketing consulting, e-newsletters, conference presentations, client meeting editorial support, white papers, case studies, multimedia demos and tutorials, and bylined article writing and placement services.
For more information, contact:
FPS President Vince DiPaolo at 847-858-9566 or [email protected] or
FPS Operations Director Ventsi Petrova at 847-501-4120 x2 or [email protected]