The Often Missing Element in Content Marketing: Point of View (POV)
Posted on October 12, 2014
The past few years have seen brands rush to restructure their approach to finding and engaging prospective buyers. Just about every self-respecting marketing department has standardized on a marketing automation platform and CRM solution for lead nurturing. And during the process of connecting this marketing technology it usually becomes clear that the marketing team will need a comprehensive content strategy and supporting workflows to “feed” the marketing automation platform.
A few marketers get it right by building persona-based content 6-12 months in advance of provisioning and activating a marketing automation platform, but most figure it out after the fact. You know the drill: create buyer personas, document their buyer journey, and then beginning identify content (by stage in the buyer journey) that needs to be created. Then there’s the mad dash to staff internal writers and supplement that with specialist content marketing agencies (or crowd source networks) to ensure that the Editorial Calendar is full. Oh – and don’t forget that once edited the content needs to be SEO-optimized, so there’s another stage of ensuring targeted keywords are appropriately used but that we avoid keyword stuffing.
So now we have tens of thousands of marketers pushing out a lot of content and that means search engine results pages (SERPs) are becoming more crowded for a given keyword search. So when a prospective buyer decides to click on your organic search listing in that SERP what do they see? The key to creating effective content that engages readers and generates website traffic to have a distinct point of view (“POV”).
A point of view is a position, perspective or opinion on a topic.
If you are a marketer and were to make a list of every piece of content you have created or curated and commented – can you define the POV? More importantly, can your readers?
Why is a POV Important?
Buyers are typically conducting online searches to educate themselves about solutions to specific problems. Since everyone is now publisher, opinions are beginning to matter more than just presenting objective facts. It’s akin to the difference between data and insights. Marketers are awash in data but are often lacking insights derived from the data and value those that can help them extract insights.
Beyond presenting a white paper full of facts, what specific perspective are you adding to the facts that result in the reader wanting to hear more from your brand. If you are merely aggregating facts through curation and republishing you are missing out on an opportunity to influence your audience and establish brand credibility (and personal credibility of the writers.) The reason POV matters is because every time a prospective buyer clicks on a SERP listing they have to make a decision about how much trust to assign to what they are reading and whether they want to dig deeper. In fact, buyers are often looking for opinions from experts rather than curated facts – so are you a thought leader or a fact curator?
I was involved in overseeing primary research in Q3 2014 for a global, multi-billion dollar revenue telecommunications provider that was seeking insights into the UCaaS market. This brand (like many of their large peers that have relied on advertising to build a brand) were surprised to see a chart of the top 20 marketing touch points that buyers use during the buyer journey to evaluate and decide on a brand for purchase. What was at the top of the list? Opinions from experts, customer reviews, and the brand’s website were in the top five. What was at the bottom? Traditional advertising (TV, radio, print, etc.)
Why is This Relevant?
Because buyers are looking for brands to trust and the opportunity to establish trust through a POV has a direct tie back to sales. Most buyers are looking for a quick answer to their questions because they don’t have the time, experience or motivation to develop the expertise themselves. Effective lead nurturing content does more than recite facts — it provides advice. But the benefit of POV development extends beyond content for lead nurturing as all of your other marketing tactics (event speaking, digital advertising, tele-prospecting, direct mail, etc.) all rely upon your ability to not only establish credibility with buyers by knowing their challenges, but building trust by offering timely and relevant advice.
So How Do You Develop a POV Strategy?
I suggest keeping it simple by building a spreadsheet for each target market that lists your buyer personas in rows and your content elements in columns. The content elements typically include insights from the personas (pain points, motivators) and hot/current industry challenges to guide topic selection but also your brand’s POV on each issues. For instance, if you are selling IT services to the healthcare industry and healthcare CIOs are concerned about BYOD, meaningful use provisions, balancing patient mobile apps with HIPPA compliance – what are your position(s)/opinion(s) about these topics? What advice can you give healthcare CIOs for effectively addressing these challenges? In other words, are you establishing your brand as a vendor or an advisor?
When creating content, don’t leave it up to your readers to decide what you are trying to say – go beyond the facts to offer advice.