4 Ways to Transform Your Content Strategy

Every touch point with a customer is marketing.

This is what Jeff Marcoux, CMO Lead for Worldwide Enterprise Marketing at Microsoft said during his keynote address at the 2017 B2B Marketing Exchange.

Indeed, every experience with a brand affects how the buyer talks about your brand. As marketers, we can’t stop at lead generation.

During his session “Building a Customer-Centered Content Strategy,” Marcoux emphasized that brand experience is our core differentiator. That said, he proposed that most of us aren’t very good at delivering that experience through the customer journey. We have all these data points, and all these tools, yet we move on to the next tool before we really learn to pull out of our existing tools all their potential. To achieve transformation, it’s more than technology. For Marcoux, it’s a combination of technology, process, and culture. We need to mature with current tools and focus on experience. He then went through the basic steps that we must go through to achieve this transformation.

First, define what the buyer journey is, keeping in mind that the journey has changed. It’s bigger than we think and now includes chatbots, in-product social, artificial intelligence and more.

Next, we need to identify the customer. We don’t necessarily need technology to do this. As we build personas we have to zero in. It’s not enough to target marketers. We need to break down all the various roles within marketing: CMOs, demand gen managers, and so many more. As we look at their challenges, don’t forget the personal challenges. That may mean that this person wants to be home by six o’clock more often to have dinner with the family. The other key thing we often forget to find out is where these people get their information and with what kinds of content do they engage.

After creating the personas, we need to identify the total addressable market: those who are not a good fit, those who are a good fit, and those who are already engaged with you.

In the next step, we define the customer journey. Marcoux outlined the journey that was defined at Microsoft, which is similar to many of the other frameworks out there:

  • Open to possibility
  • Decision to change
  • Evaluating
  • Shopping
  • Experiencing

One interesting note is that “experiencing” addresses what your peer group and your community would say about your decision. You want to do what your peers or community will approve. You don’t want to be seen as making a bad decision.

Some recommendations about content itself included creating what Microsoft calls a “big rock” piece — a long-form asset from which many other assets can be derived. Another concept is earthquakes — a big epicenter piece of content that is followed by aftershocks like a nurture stream. Other important ideas included using real-time personalization and going beyond a linear nurture stream.

So what were Marcoux’s key takeaways?

  • Go through the customer journey.
  • List out key personas your company targets.
  • Map out existing touch points and content.
  • Call out gaps in content and journey.

Marcoux said it’s important to remember that the best last experience the customer has becomes the expectation from there on out.

And, most important, in Marcoux’s words: “Be fearlessly authentic in content.” Know your brand’s purpose and how it affects people, and convey that message in your content. Deliver to your buyers an experience focused on their lives and how you touch them.