Three years ago, when I started at Cylance, all of our content was housed in Box. Nobody knew how old anything was, whether it was up to date, who had created the assets, what it should be used for, or what audience it spoke to. There was no categorization. There was no taxonomy. There was no real strategy to the way we were storing, updating, or creating our content.
It wasn’t that our content was no good. In fact, we had a lot of great stuff from respected security experts—but it was being produced in a vacuum. It was not aligned with our overall campaign strategy. We were putting it out there without much thought as to how it was going to reach the audience, connect to other topics, how it would be measured, and what it was intended to do for that audience (or for our business).
Not surprisingly, we received feedback that customers were confused about what “the message” was from us, and what our clear differentiated value was. We knew we had a problem, but we didn’t yet have a strong approach for how to solve it.
And that was the job I was given—to do an inventory and an audit, to clean up, update, track and devise a real content strategy that could tighten the message, address the right topics, and speak to the themes that our audience was seeking answers for. I was lucky to be given some degree of autonomy to make decisions about how we were going to tackle the problem. I got to do the research, which showed that there definitely are good, modern approaches to solving these problems. It was reassuring to learn that others had experienced the same problems and taken on these challenges before we even got there.
And while I learned more about available systems and processes that can make a huge difference, I realized that the first thing that had to change was our thinking.
Before doing anything else, there were a few key content lessons that we needed to internalize.
1. Recognize that Content Is Critical
Content has become the gas that fuels the entire engine of the company. There is no position within the organization that is not using content that the marketing team generates in some way. HR, sales, operations, finance—everyone is using some piece of content that marketing creates.
Marketing content is no longer the “supporting material” is used to be. Your content operation is core to your overall customer experience and their buyer’s journey. Good content won’t guarantee a good customer experience, but there isn’t much chance of creating a good customer experience without it.
2. Tell the Whole Story
Managing content that drives the customer experience—especially for those working in SaaS or similar business models—requires telling the whole story. You’re driving the entire customer life cycle from brand and solution awareness, to purchase and investment through deployment, to satisfaction and loyalty, and if you’re good, through the point of upsell or cross-sell.
You are responsible for that entire customer journey. And if you’re not paying attention to how content feeds the whole journey all the way through, you run the risk of missing out on a lot of market share.
3. Know Your Customers and Channels
If you’re putting together a real customer experience strategy, you need to understand who your customers are. And that means having a good understanding of key personas, and the business challenges that each of those personas face. At Cylance, in the cybersecurity market, we’re trying to speak to Chief Security Officers (CSOs) or Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), because they often end up being the decision-makers.
But we’re also trying to reach the security analysts and the people who are in the trenches every day. CISOs have to report to the board of directors about what the risk management and risk mitigation strategies are over the coming quarter or year, whereas security analysts deal, on average, with seven different platforms every day—they’re lost in all the alerts popping up and the different responses that are required for each. Both groups are critical, and we have to be sure our message gets to each of them.
We realized that reaching each of those two audiences requires a different approach. It’s no longer sufficient to have one message in one format; that doesn’t work anymore. And on top of the message, you have to take into account that people prefer to consume content in so many different ways. Some like to sit down and read a white paper from end to end; others prefer to watch videos or listen to podcasts; still, others like to glance at the occasional social media post.
You have to pay attention to how you deliver content across a wide variety of formats to reach your whole audience. Even if it’s the same message—or rather because it is the same message—it needs to be unified across all the different channels.
4. Speak with One Voice
Above all, you have to get everybody singing from the same song sheet. You need the whole organization to articulate the same clear messages to each audience so that the company finds a consistent voice. Whether it’s sales out in the market having conversations with customers, whether it’s the way you’re organizing your white papers or your blogs, whatever it is—every aspect of the content you produce—it all needs to work in concert.
And that’s the big lesson: Without that single voice, none of these other strategies can do much good. But if you can find that voice, you make it possible to truly align your content with your strategy. And beyond that, you make it possible to provide a truly extraordinary experience to your customers.
Download The Guide to B2B Content to learn more content lessons from today’s marketing leaders.