I was working with a client recently who was about to announce a new product offering that the company hoped would convince prospective customers to buy. This client was convinced that clients wanted “snackable” content – documents that can be read in five minutes or less. I was able to convince my client that there was another way to go that would be more likely to result in sales. What is wrong with snackable content? Why do I have a problem with snackable content? If you are selling a candy bar or a bar of soap, the value proposition is quite clear. You are satisfying hunger for something sweet or you are making your customer feel that the bar of soap with make you feel clean and beautiful. If, on the other hand, you are selling a complex technology product the value proposition is much more complicated and sometimes much more subtle.
What can you say in a 200-word blog or a three minute video? Basically you can state what the product is used for, what type of results you can expect, and its value to a customer. While this sounds reasonable, there is a problem. Let’s say that you are selling a solution that enables a financial services software developer to build a cloud native application. You can provide the basic facts but it leaves many questions unanswered. How does the product work? How does the application connect to other third party data services? How is that application secured? What are the prerequisites? What are the benefits of the offering compared to other popular tools? What are the most appropriate use cases? Combining snackable content with deeper content
Am I saying that snackable content is bad? Actually, no. There is a time and a place for snackable content. Think of snackable content as a tease. Wouldn’t you like to create new cloud applications without having to use any language? Wouldn’t it be great if you could certify that your code is secure instantly? Then, you provide some basic information about how a new product from your company achieves just that. It is either that quick video clip or a ten-sentence explanation. If you are successful with your tease, your prospective customer will want to know more.
Without providing deep dive content, you leave the prospect wondering what is that all about. My recommendation is to create a content roadmap that begins with the value proposition and proceeds to provide deeper and more hard-hitting content over the following year.
Here is a four step process that I recommend:
Step 1. Create snackable content. This is your starting point. Create a quick explanation of what the value of the offering is, what it consists of and how it will solve a business problem. This snackable content should be compelling enough to make your prospect want to know more.
Step 2. Add perspective on the value. What is the product or solution? What problem is it intended to solve? Provide context that makes it clear to the buyer what the details of the product are; how it works; and how it fits into the context of the business. This is not documentation. Rather it tells the story of what the offering is, how it works and how it enables the business to be successful in addressing unmet needs. This content is addressed to the individual within the company who signs the purchase order. Therefore, the return on investment must be clear.
Step 3. Get deep and wide. While a senior executive may sign the purchase order there are constituents who are influential in decision-making. For example, if you are selling a tool or solution that will be used constantly by developers they have to have confidence that the solution will be effective. This is where you go as deep technically as the solution requires. What do the users of a solution want to know? They want to make sure that the tools or solution delivers the right techniques. The solution must make the user look good. After all, from the perspective of the developers they want a solution that will make them look professional and competent. While leadership may be looking for a return on investment, the developers want to be the heroes. They want to gain credibility and even get a raise. Therefore, these users need to understand how the details about how to build a solution and how to link that solution with the rest of the company’s infrastructure. There needs to be a way for the developers to work with code and create a working prototype.
Step 4. Continue to add content. As there is initial success, it is critical to keep the drum roll going. As new customers are added, let prospects and customers know about these use cases and approaches that led to success. This can be done with a combination of video testimonials and written content that includes what problems were being addressed, what the company had tried in the past, and the outcomes from the use of the solution. There should be a continuous stream of content. While this sounds obvious, I have seen too many vendors who spend most of their time and money on the launch and move on. A launch is not a one time event; rather it a cycle of buying.
The Cycle of Buying
The cycle of buying is important. You need to use your content strategy to sell the story of your value to your customers. This value is based on what I call the three principles of the buying cycle:
1. Customers will not buy what they don’t understand
2. The influencers need to see how the purchase of a solution will make them look good and lead to a personally fulfilling future (money and prestige).
3. Demonstrating customer success. A prospective customer wants to know that others have been successful so it is safe to buy.