After getting your first content marketing pieces out there, the question usually revolves around “what’s next?”. Startups who are strapped for cash and resources want to know if they should go wide, trying to reach more industries or segments, or if they should narrow their focus and create additional content materials to go deeper into the segment they have already started to work with. In established companies the question is similar, but it often is a question of where to focus their resources to get the best results.
When asked about the narrow vs wide focus in content marketing, my first question is always “what is your goal?”. Do you want to generate leads to the top of the funnel or do you need to close deals that are being worked on right now? Do you need to test whether your message is on target (based on your buyer personas) or do you need to get prospects through the marketing funnel and further qualify them?
These are simple, but important questions. I’ve seen lengthy discussions arise because the marketing team is not in sync. Some want to go after additional industries so that the message can be spread out and the company name (or product) can become known elsewhere. Others don’t want to “abandon” leads they have already generated and argue for more nurturing campaigns with content that will guide those leads down to eventually close a sale.
So how do you solve this? I believe it is a matter of understanding a few important things before making a decision, such as:
- How long is your sales cycle?
- Who are the decision makers and all the personas involved?
- What content has already been created?
- Which content pieces were successful in the past and why?
- What is the profile of your ideal customer?
Number 5, although the last one, is typically the first thing your company should know. This sounds obvious but for startups it might take them a while until they figure out who exactly is their ideal customer, which can change from the day they set out to actually sell the product until they close their first few deals.
If you have a relatively short sales cycle, then developing content focused on driving leads down the marketing funnel to help close deals might be the best bet. If, on the other hand, you don’t expect deals to close within the next 6 months, then you can afford to verge off track for a bit and create content for other industries/personas/segments and come back later with additional content for existing leads.
Whatever your decision, make sure you understand what and why you are doing it and have some metrics in place to tell you what is working and why.