A short time ago I wrote a post, The Focus of Content Marketing is Not Format. I've been thinking about that and trying to come up with a way to help B2B marketers understand why the way they design their content is more important than format (white paper, case study, article, etc.). I came up with a correlation to fashion. Yeah, I know. Stay with me.
But first, I'm giving credit for the spark of this bizarre brainstorm Friday fun to a post Kelley Robertson (@fearlessselling) wrote - The Dangers of Sales Casual - about follow-up calls.
The tone and style of how content is written is as important as how it is spoken. Content serves as personality signature for your company - especially if it's the person's first impression of you. Depending on the purpose of your content and the audience it's created for, the "fashion-sense" of your content can either propel the response to it beyond your goals, or miss the mark and fall flat.
Consider these content fashion match-ups:
Flannel Pajamas - Customer Stories
I know, seems like a strange choice. However, when a prospect reads a customer story I want them to feel comfortable. I want them to totally relate to the customer and the company as they realize that success can actually be theirs based on this example of how your customer solved a similar problem with your help. Although the writing itself may not be "warm and fuzzy," the reaction from your audience should be that they feel an increased level of comfort about choosing your company as a partner for solving their problem.
Jeans - Blog Posts
The conversational nature of a blog makes it more casual. Blogs enable inanimate companies to let a bit of their personality shine through. Although, like denim, the content in your blog posts needs to be sturdy enough to catch and keep the attention of your intended audience. Similarly, blogs are also strong enough to stand up to and embrace the comments and opinions of readers.
Shorts - Twitter
Not only due to length, but the even more personalized and casual stance that can be effective for engaging people with 140 characters or less. Just make sure you don't burn your legs by focusing only on yourself. Twitter is really where valuable concise ideas and sharing the great stuff of others (along with your own) can make a lasting impression.
Khakis - Articles
Articles are the business casual of content. They're not too long and are usually focused on a specific topic. They're great for educational insights and good ones are not so formal that you need to expend a ton of effort to get through them. Articles are a good fit for limited-attention audiences who need meaty insights without expending more than 3 - 5 minutes. They're more approachable than suits...and they should also drive conversations about the subject matter or at least plant the seeds for them.
Suits - White Papers
These are the full-bore business attire of content. They're about 6 - 12 pages and usually more professional in tone than their shorter-form counterparts. White papers are about expertise. People have high expectations from white papers that match the amount of effort they'll expend to read them. Great white papers provide supporting evidence for the arguments they present and are backed-up with research. With a white paper, I want the audience to walk away with insights that increase their consideration about building a business case for solving the problem. I also want readers to find them valuable enough to pass along to other influencers.
Tuxedos - eBooks
I gave eBooks the tuxedo match-up because they tend to have more style than white papers. More graphics, more white space, more color, more font embellishments. eBooks not only deliver valuable information, but often play a bit with us visually. I want the audience of an eBook to be as engaged by the environment the information is presented within as they are about the takeaways from that information.
Sweatpants - Solution Briefs
These are the workhorses of content for later-stage buyers. The best ones not only present some feeds and speeds information but solidify the discussion about the usefulness of the solution. I want a solution brief to validate that the prospect is making the right choice based upon what they've learned about solving the problem to date.
So what do you think? Would you change any of these? Can you come up with additions to fill out the wardrobe? What about video, podcasts, webinars, slide decks or other types of content?
Post your additions/changes in the comments below and I'll randomly select 2 of you to receive a copy of my book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, on Monday.
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