Presumably, companies create online content to generate sales leads or e-commerce revenue. After all, why would a company invest thousands of dollars to create and market content merely to please its employees? Strangely, a lot of companies create online content that seems to exist solely for the latter purpose: pleasing their employees. Which brings us to the first mistake that erases the lead generation value of business content.
Mistake 1: Inward Focus
Even though this has been said 10 million times, the message isn’t sinking in.
Companies that talk about features rather than benefits, use industry jargon rather than plain English, and blow their horn rather than concentrating on the customer problems their products solve, have almost no chance of winning over prospects and turning them into customers. To quote one of my Internet marketing heroes, David Meerman Scott, “Nobody cares about your products and services (except you).”
Mistake 2: Formal Style
It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. In the same way business attire has gone from formal to informal, business communication preferences have done the same. A formal style is off-putting, because it creates distance between the seller and the potential customer. Persuasive content, even in B2B, requires engagement and emotional connection. You create this dynamic by employing a conversational, real-world tone.
Mistake 3: Failing to Close
Some people confuse an informal style with a passive style. They are completely different things. In business, it’s not only acceptable to ask for the order, it’s expected. Some companies think they will “naturally” get business because prospects will be overwhelmed with awe by the quality of their content. This is a pipe dream. Very little business content rises to that level. Effective lead generation content weaves in calls to action: “download this form,” “schedule an appointment,” “request a trial,” etc.
Mistake 4: Content: Call to Action Misalignment
Sometimes you’ll see a company website that has an “Order Now” form on every page. Is that really sensible? I can see putting an order form on product detail pages, but is it likely that a prospect will be ready to order when viewing a product category page or the company “About” page? Effective lead generation content is built in the context of a logical conversion funnel, not by attempting to get the hapless prospect to sign a five-year lease document the minute he walks into the car dealership. For prospects in the early stages of the buying cycle, softer calls to action such as form downloads are more appropriate, and more effective in bringing prospects closer to doing business.
Mistake 5: Bad Editing
Even if you avoid the first four mistakes, you’ll throw it all away if you fail to properly edit your content. First-class content producers do first-class editing, making sure content follows the rules of grammar and usage, is coherent, and contains accurate information. Falling short in any of these areas undermines a company’s credibility, making prospects skeptical about its ability to take care of business. After all, if a company can’t spell a word right, how can it build an airplane?
Creating Lead Generation-Worthy Content Is Easy, If …
It’s easy to create strong lead generation content if you do one thing: think like a prospect. This brings us back to issue No. 1, inward focus. Too many companies begin and manage the content creation process by assembling a committee of employees.
How about assembling a committee of prospects? How about getting the sales team and the customer service team involved?
I’ve been in tons of client discovery meetings, and the most valuable content inputs have often come from sales and customer service personnel, people who are on the front lines with customers and prospects, people who speak the language of the customer. Just remember, it’s not what you want to hear; it’s what prospects want to hear that matters most.