12 content ideas that help buyers buy
Most startups, entrepreneurs and freelancers look at content marketing as a way to drive sales of their product or service, and rightly so. But how do you make that happen? What content ideas will actually help buyers buy?
Helpfulness is attractive. Selling isn’t.
To begin, it’s important to remember that content marketing only works when it focuses on the buyer and his or her needs. Material that’s pushy or littered with “we,” “our,” and “us” sentences comes across like a used car salesperson. Don’t be like those guys.
Instead, make your content watchword “helpfulness.”
Helpfulness means a commitment to provide the most useful information possible so a buyer can make an informed decision about a purchase.
The bottom line: helpfulness is attractive; selling isn’t.
When you create content that’s attractive, you’ll generate more upfront interest in your solution and have a better chance to close business down the road.
So then the question becomes: what content ideas result in attractive content?
It’s all about the buyer’s journey
To be truly helpful, you’ll need to think like a buyer. To do that, pay attention to the three main stages that buyers go through on the way to a purchase: education, solution and selection.
These phases of the buyer’s journey represent a shift in mindset as a buyer becomes aware of an issue that needs solving (education), considers ways to solve the issue (solution) and makes a choice (selection).
If you deliver useful information appropriate for each stage, your content will be aligned with the buyer’s natural decision process – helping the buyer move toward a purchase in an informed way.
I’ve pulled together a dozen ideas to assist you.
Content ideas for the education stage
At this stage people are either unaware that they have a specific need or are just beginning to desire some sort of change. Here are four ideas for content that can raise awareness in a potential buyer.
1. Examine an issue or pain point
Your company exists to help people solve a specific problem in their business or personal lives. Content that clearly describes that issue can help people recognize a need.
- What is that problem?
- Why does it occur?
- How do you diagnose it?
- What’s the impact?
- What are its ramifications if left unsolved?
- Is it a symptom of a bigger problem?
- Who tends to be afflicted?
- What are some common approaches to solving it? Do they work?
Your answers to these questions help people put themselves in the scene and identify with others having the same issue. That’s a good first step along the buyer’s journey.
2. Explain how something works
New technologies, processes and approaches can be confusing to many people. That creates an opportunity for you to deliver content that explains and educates about a subject you know well.
If you offer a website development service, for example, you might explain how websites work at a high level. If you’re an accountant or financial planner, you could create a review of new laws affecting potential clients. Or if you offer custom manufacturing using 3D printing technology, you could outline how 3D printers work and why they’re changing the manufacturing landscape.
Keep your descriptions general rather than specific to your unique solution. At this stage you’re providing background information, not sales brochures.
3. Provide assessment tools
Sometimes your prospects don’t know what they don’t know. Beyond a general feeling that “things aren’t working the way they should,” people often have difficulty putting their finger on specific gaps or weaknesses in their business or personal lives.
Assessment tools can help buyers identify those gaps.
Assessment content could be anything from a series of simple questions posed on your website to a comprehensive questionnaire. Craft these carefully and you’ll help buyers get educated while pinpointing opportunities for sales.
Once you’ve gathered assessment data from a number of prospects, you can also create content that summarizes your findings.
4. Share insight and perspective
Your unique view on your industry or business topic represents your thought leadership. Sharing that insight can align your business ideas with the needs of prospective customers, as long as you do so in an educational and helpful way.
This type of content can cover a broad waterfront: trends, issues, technology, business models and more. Just remember to focus on how your perspective impacts potential buyers, not on how it makes your company (or you) look cool or trendy.
Content ideas for the solution stage
People in this phase of the buyer’s journey have made a commitment to resolve a need or desire and have begun to consider various solutions. These next four content ideas help prospective buyers see your solution in the best possible light.
5. Provide steps to follow
If your solution is part of a bigger process, you can help prospective buyers by outlining the steps that will lead to success.
- What should a prospect do before choosing a solution?
- What should they do, and in what order, to solve their issue at a broader level?
- What are the important aspects of a total solution, and why?
- What are some related areas to consider?
6. Compare and contrast
It’s unlikely that your offering is the only solution available to buyers. An honest analysis of how various options compare to one another would be helpful content at this stage.
This is an opportunity to highlight your solution’s unique strengths and tie those to specific buyer needs. It’s okay to get a bit promotional here, but be truthful!
7. Demonstrate usage
Content that walks prospective buyers through the use of your product or service helps them visualize its use in their own lives. It also helps describe the functionality and personality of your solution.
Demonstrations can be delivered in the form of a written scenario, a presentation, a video or even a webinar. Make it real, and buyers will be better able to insert themselves into the story.
8. Warn of mistakes to avoid
If you help buyers avoid mistakes and reduce risk you’ll show your understanding of the issue. You’ll also help steer potential buyers toward a better solution. Both will be appreciated!
- Look to your own experience for examples of bad solutions
- Consider potential mistakes at all points in the solution process
- Highlight both what mistakes to avoid and how to avoid them
Content ideas for the selection stage
Once a buyer identifies a preferred solution their thoughts turn to making the right decision and justifying that decision to someone else. Your content at this stage needs to reassure the buyer about these concerns. Our last four content ideas help you do that.
9. Highlight case studies
Successful case studies assure buyers that others have tried your solution and had good outcomes. Structure your examples by describing the specific problem that was faced, the solution that was implemented, and the results that were achieved.
Use actual metrics whenever possible: pounds lost, dollars saved, time shortened, quality improved.
10. Provide purchase analysis tools
Spreadsheets or apps that help buyers estimate their return on investment or payback period are particularly helpful at this stage. You could also provide cost comparisons within your own pricing options or with competitive choices.
11. Outline implementation plans
Provide content that describes exactly what will happen once a purchase is made. This gives buyers reassurance that there’s a predictable, planned way to gain the benefits you’ve promised.
If you offer training or assistance for new buyers, this is the time to explain that. If a purchase will kick off a series of communications from you, explain what those are and why they’ll help ensure success.
12. Explain your guarantee
Guarantees and warranties are safety nets that reduce the fear of risk. In addition to any legal formats for these, you can provide content that outlines your commitment to satisfaction and the protections you provide.
Do I need all of these?
It’s not necessary to create content for all the ideas presented here. But it’s useful to have at least one or two content items for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Implement the content ideas that best fit your situation at each stage, and you’ll have attractive, helpful material that guides buyers to buy your solution.
What’s your experience?
Have you tried any of these ideas? If so, how did they work?
What other content ideas can you suggest? Where do they best fit in the buyer’s journey?
What specific challenges have you had in moving buyers toward a purchase with your content?
Please share your thoughts with our community in the comments below. Thanks!
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