Your brand promise communicates the value you create for buyers and customers. It cuts across your brand strategy, content strategy, product experience, as well as sales and service execution.
Content strategy is your single best tool to consistently bring your brand promise alive in buyer and customer interaction. But most companies are not doing this well.
Sarah MacKinnon’s article on “A Content Tsunami” showed that while 91% of B2B companies use content marketing only 30% have a defined buyer journey that motivates their content strategy. Most are not linking content to a story about buyer and customer value creation.
What has gone wrong?
Many CEOs think of content – a blog, webinars, white papers, case studies and the like – as just for marketing purposes, particularly lead generation.
High growth CEOs think differently. They recognize marketing creates content, but that they need to own their content strategy that brings their brand promise into every single buyer and customer interaction.
Here are four actions you can take to own your content strategy and align it to your brand promise.
Action 1. – Ask your marketing leadership to turn content into content pathways
Marketing departments too often think about content as individual content. Ask instead that every single content asset be put into a content pathway that tells a story about buyer value. You might help your customers increase revenue, reduce costs, drive processes efficiencies, improve business insights, optimize staff or asset productivity, create higher user persistence, etc. Align each blog post, webinar, white paper, or customer story directly to one or more of these elements of your valuation creation.
Action 2. – Optimize content for each phase of the buyer and customer journey
Ask your VP or Head of Marketing, Prospecting, Sales, Account Management, Customer Success, and Product to select the right content depth for their team’s work with buyers and customers. Marketing and Prospecting teams need content snippets that engage quickly. This could be customer testimonials, thought-provoking questions, and bullet points capturing a buyer outcome or a white paper finding. Sales and Account Management teams need content that maps value from the buyer’s goal to the company’s capabilities. They need sell sheets, customer stories, and positioning slides with a “problem-solution-result” structure to fluidly respond to each buyer’s situation. Customer success and product teams need content that extends value from one buyer goal to another. This could be customer stories, a capability maturity framework or white papers that connect deeper implementation to deeper value.
Action 3 – Model selling with stories, ask each teach member to do the same
Stories sell. There is no more powerful way to engage a new buyer and deepen a customer conversation than to share a story of success with peers — “someone just like them.” Customer stories are your single most important type of content. As CEO, you need to model this behavior. Ideally, you have a handful of your own customer stories that make your brand promise very easy to grasp. Insist through your leaders that every go-to-market team member has their own “go to” customer stories.
Action 4 – Ask each GTM team to practice using content to anchor on buyer value
Content is a really important way to keep go-to-market teams focused on business value rather than product pitching. However, learning to use the right content for the right buyer is harder — much harder than mastering a product. So ask your go-to-market leadership to commit to regular team-based practice and learning sessions. These can be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. They focus on sharing “stories from the field” and the use of content to bring your brand promise into prospecting, selling, or account management work.
The example of Mursion and immersive VR for soft skills
Mursion is one of a handful of companies that recognized early the power of immersive virtual reality (VR) for training on soft skills like leadership, diversity and inclusion, sales, and customer service. Mursion, Jig Space, Praxis Lab, Sciolytix, Virtalis, and others all saw how Immersive VR creates an individual “learning experience” to support behavioral change at scale.
However, Mursion was the only company in this new category that took off into rapid growth. Mursion was, in fact, named by both The Financial Times and Inc. as one of the fastest growing companies in America. The company grew an average of 200% over seven years to exceed $25 million in sales and 150 employees. All the others never grew beyond $5 million in revenue and 25 employees.
Why the difference in growth trajectory?
One key reason is that Mursion’s CEO Mark Atkinson owned with his GTM leadership the company’s content strategy that brought Mursion’s brand promise consistently into buyer and customer interactions.
Mark along with his VP of Sales and VP of Marketing led the effort to identify Mursion’s key use cases that unlocked the most business value. These included: “scaling leadership training,” “making inclusion a reality,” “empathetic leadership,” and “upleveling the customer experience.”
Mark sat with his VP of Marketing to record customer stories, like Western, Coca-Cola, LinkedIn, Nationwide Bank, T-Mobile, and the Air Force Academy that fed into customer stories, blogs, webinars and other content. He then stood up in a teamwide go-to-market meeting to model these stories in a “problem-solution-result” format. He created the expectation for using stories and other content to communicate Mursion’s value and joined team learning sessions to show his support for this practice.
As CEO, you have a very clear opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition by owning a content strategy that engages your buyers and customers with your brand promise. Most CEOs are missing the mark here. You can be the exception.
Written by Brent Keltner.
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