When people are getting ready to make a purchase — regardless of what they’re buying — the same thoughts run through their heads. Every buyer wants to know that he is getting a great product or service for a great price.
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Today, that means that buyers will search the internet for information before they buy, looking to verify the quality and cost of what they’re purchasing.
Your business is no different. Whether you sell prefab garden sheds or briefcases, finance software or cell phone plans, your buyers want to know the same things.
At IMPACT, we believe that if a customer has a question, you should have an answer — and that answer should be easy to find on your website.
We call this They Ask, You Answer. Your customer asks, you answer. To truly put your customers at ease, we suggest you candidly address their deepest worries and concerns. We've found that there are five topics your customers are sure to ask about, no matter your product or service or industry.
What are the Big 5?
When you’re getting started planning your content marketing strategy, we suggest you get started with the Big 5. These are topics your customers are sure to be interested in.
Think about it: when you go on a website and can’t find what something costs, how do you feel? If you’re like me, it feels like the company is trying to hide something. When someone is not open with me, I become distrustful. If they won’t be upfront, what else might they be hiding?
You must be certain to address these five topics that everyone wants to know about:
Cost: Buyers want to know how much they can expect to spend, as well as the factors that make that price go up or down.
Reviews: Buyers want to hear from other buyers about their experience with a product or service.
“Best of” lists: Customers will search for content that allows them to compare several top solutions for their problem as they home in on the one they want.
Problems: Just like with reviews, buyers want to know about the potential drawbacks of whatever they’re considering so they know they won’t be making a purchase they regret.
Comparisons: When making a final decision, it’s likely that a buyer will put several similar options side by side to evaluate relative strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re a company just getting started with content marketing — even if you know you need to focus on the Big 5 — it can be hard to know where to begin. Kevin Phillips, an expert in content marketing and SEO, has helped numerous businesses implement strategic content creation.
According to Kevin, this is the best way to get started.
According to Kevin, there are two answers to this question — and both are equally valid.
Option 1: The questions that get asked most
Talk to your sales team to see what your customers most want to know.
At IMPACT, we have a spreadsheet that our sales team can use to drop in questions they’re getting from buyers. Then, we have an upvoting system so that the most important questions rise to the top.
As a content manager, this is a great place to begin. Such content will immediately be useful for your sales team as an assignment selling resource. Your sales team can anticipate and respond to buyer questions with your content.
Option 2: Cost
Money makes the world go round. When in doubt about exactly what your sales team hears (or if they can’t totally agree), it never hurts to start addressing cost.
As Kevin says, “you should get ‘cost’ content out there as fast as possible because cost is one questions that’s on everyone’s mind.”
If you’re unsure how to address cost on your website, you can check out Kevin’s own article that dives more deeply into several Big 5 tactics:
While all five topics are critical to your content marketing success, Kevin believes “reviews” should come last. People want to read reviews, yes, but they give credence to third-party review sites (like Yelp) or customer review aggregates (like on Amazon) rather than reviews a company writes itself.
In certain industries, reviews might not actually be relevant. If you’re a landscaping business, your customers are unlikely to care about your reviews of your services or equipment.
However, in retail settings, candid reviews that address the pros and cons of a given product would be very useful.
When getting started, should you try to evenly cover all topics or focus your energy on one area?
When you suddenly realize how much content there is to write, it can be overwhelming. A natural inclination is to try to do a cursory covering of everything. Kevin advises against this. Rather, you should focus on covering one topic sufficiently before moving on to another.
Say your company offers 12 different services. Kevin suggests writing everything you can for one of the services, then moving on to the next.
If you focus on one content area, “you’re going to offer a complete picture of buying that one product.”
“Plus,” Kevin goes on, “this strategy is going to help you rank in search engines for short tail keywords.” Search engines will reward in-depth coverage of a search topic.
What’s more, Kevin adds, multiple articles on related topics can be bundled together to build premium content.
If you cover all aspects of standing seam metal roofs, for example — the costs, drawbacks, comparisons, reviews, and features — you could easily pull together an Ultimate guide to standing seam metal roofs, which could drive traffic and form submissions.
Speaking of ranking, should I be focused on writing content that drives traffic?
Your immediate focus should be on creating content your sales team can use with prospects. A piece you publish today could help close a deal tomorrow, but it is unlikely to rank high in search results for months (if not longer). “Bottom of the funnel content is going to sell people more quickly than more fluffy, top of the funnel content,” advises Kevin.
Brian suggests writing two or three Big 5-type pieces of content for every one traffic-driving piece. If you keep up this cadence for 90 days, it’s likely you will have answered many of your customers’ major questions in that time. Then, you can shift your focus to more traffic-driving content.
What’s more, an enterprising content writer can turn the same subject matter expert information into multiple pieces of content, both for assignment selling and for traffic.
You could easily produce a bottom of the funnel piece (“What does our company charge for home insurance — and why?”) and a traffic-driving, generalized piece (“What does home insurance cost and what affects the price?”). Together, they cover both ends of the spectrum.
Getting started with Big 5 content
It’s only natural to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content necessary to make content marketing work. The Big 5 gives you a strategy that can direct your efforts, but even so, you might not know how to jump in.
Getting started by focusing on sales-enablement content — specifically connected to the questions your sales team is hearing the most often, or to cost — is where to start.
From there, try to fully address one product or service category. Then, as you start to check boxes and publish more and more, you can begin to shift your efforts to traffic and keyword plays.
As Brian says, “after the first 90 days, you can focus on writing a more balanced slate of articles covering sales-driving content and traffic-driving content.”
At that point, you will have covered your bases and can begin to develop a long-term content strategy that best meets your needs.