Everyone’s heard so much about content marketing and its benefits to your sales efforts. There are a lot of effective methodologies for planning your content strategy. And in most cases, the first step for all of them in to understand your buyer personas which are [verbatim HubSpot definition] semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivation, and goals.

After the personas are developed, you may wonder what the next step is to begin identifying your content needs. Again, there are multiple ways to go about it, but one of the ways is using your organization’s sales cycle as a planning tool.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR B2B SALES CYCLE AND TIMING

The first step to this component is, of course, understanding your B2B sales cycle and timing. And you might have different labels for your sales cycle phases than other companies do, but presumably, they are defined in some way. Some examples might be as simple as: Entry, Mid-Point, Close; to Awareness, Consideration, Close; or even, Prospect, Qualified Lead, Sales Accepted Lead, Closed Sale; or any permutation in between those labels.

The point is your buyer personas have specific pain points, educational needs, proof requirements, and specifics at each phase. And matching up your content can help satisfy your prospects needs enough to move them to the next stage.

CONDUCTING A CURRENT CONTENT AUDIT

Once the personas and sales cycle are identified, you need to conduct an audit of what you currently have for content resources. This could include collateral such as sales sheets or brochures; your website, associated blogs, and social media; product demos or free trials; more detailed content like white papers, videos, infographics or research reports; all the way to your proposals and invoices or support information or technical manuals/documentation.

The next step is to align your current content resources with your identified sales cycle stages and pain points of your personas. A very simple example using one of the labels examples above might look like this:

Again, this is in its simplistic form, and there are many other ways to break out the stages and categories of content. A chart like this can also show you where your holes are for content. If you don’t have “enough” in a certain box, you know that’s your priority when you begin content creation.

Let us know if you’ve found good ways to analyze and categorize your content for your content marketing strategy.