A Content Framework
Content Logic consulting engagements focus on cataloging unique values and competitive advantage. Too often professional services firms bury compelling value beneath recitations of qualifications. Excellent content elevates the value-added and competitive differentiators. . (see sidebar below).
The following comprise a Content Logic initial consulting engagement. This work forms the basis of content development and design for all Content Logic services: content development, content design, sales enablement, or new product and service launch.
Each phase is a complete deliverable and is structured to provide sustainable value. Taken in total, the result is the establishment of a value-based, client-facing body of work that communicates the exceptional.
Phase 1: Assessing Value Propositions & Key Differentiators
Articulating your firm's value-add and the benefits accrued to clients is paramount. Content must focus on your unique value propositions. Not your core (often perceived as commoditized) service and qualifications. This is foundational to developing compelling client-facing content. The focus is not what you do (the commodity), but how you do it (the differentiators).
We deploy a discovery process to capture your mission and value propositions. This can include interviews with key members of staff, whiteboard sessions, and brainstorming. The goal is to craft the language that codifies and communicates that value.
Phase 2: Developing Client Profiles & Buyer Personas
Developing buyer Personae is prerequisite to creating compelling marketing and thought leadership content. But this is not enough. Beyond the buyer persona, profile development should include buyer types. This is especially helpful for focused, account-based marketing (ABM) strategies.
The "buyer" is rarely a single individual in today's B2B environment. It is more often a group of decision makers, influencers, and stakeholders. The group can coalesce around common goals. Sometimes you have to manage competing priorities. Content that is aware of these dynamics is important to effective sales enablement. The profiles should include:
- client (individual and group)
- market, and
- industry direction.
Our approach to building profiles accounts for each of these. It also takes in account the diverse group of stakeholders and influencers. Each of whom assesses value from their sometimes-competing set of priorities.
Phase 3: Mapping the Decision Process
We have identified unique value propositions and their benefits. We have articulated them specific to stakeholder concerns. Now we must map the value propositions to the prospect's decision process.
The Journey: The persona is latitude. Every step in the decision process by that persona is another degree of longitude. Both are necessary to plotting relevance. We must not only say the right thing to the right person but say it at the right time.
The buyer's journey,* maps the journey through its 5 stages:
- awareness of a challenge
- information seeking
- consideration of alternatives
- purchase, and
- post-purchase evaluation.
The sales funnel charts this engagement evolution:
- lead, and finally
The sales funnel view is useful for CRM reporting and sales enablement metrics. However, when developing content, the client perspective is the perspective that matters.
*The buyer's journey traces its roots to the great early 20th century philosopher John Dewey. (Dewey, 1910) Phase 3 leverages these profound insights.
Phase 4: Building the Vocabulary of Competitive Advantage
The final step is building the core content based on your most compelling arguments. The differentiators that define competitive advantage. All marketing content should incorporate the discovery work of the phases 1-3. In this way, marketing, sales, go-to-market, strategy and tactic align from mission statement to execution.
Building a library of source material will enable marketing to support sales quickly and effectively. This ensures the message consistency that is so critical to your brand.
This content will not be evergreen and will require regular updating. Markets change, as will components of your services as you strive to meet evolving client demand. What does remain are your founding principles and core values. These should be carefully nurtured and sustained.
It is not enough to deliver a message of expertise. It must be well-placed to be well received. The content needs to align to the phases of the buyer's journey to be relevant and effective. And, it must resonate with a diverse group of decision makers, stakeholders, and influencers.
This means you must communicate with more than professional expertise. You must also communicate with marketing expertise.
This is content logic.
Write what matters.™
Kano Model: Theory of Client Satisfaction
While the "Kano Model"* was developed as a tool for product developers to understand the dynamics of customer requirements and preferences, it can be a very useful framework when developing content for marketing and thought leadership purposes and help to properly focus writing on competitive advantage.
The arrow representing core competencies (often labeled "more is better") are the attributes that must be met for the client to be (merely) satisfied. If the service does not deliver these attributes the client will be dissatisfied. Far too often, professional services marketing is based on these undistinguished attributes, rather than those that distinguish the firm (the "delighters"). Core competencies almost, by definition, are the undifferentiated or "commoditized" aspect of professional services.
"Must haves" are those qualities that must exist for your services even to be considered. For example, the attorney must be admitted to the bar to offer legal advice. The services must be legal, etc. But further, a client will likely expect that their attorney, accountant or other professional will take the time to understand the facts specific to their circumstances and what the client considers a positive outcome. Yet, so many emblazon their websites with "personalized service!" as a distinguishing feature – surely only a "must have" (unless you are competing with a web-based or DIY service.)
These are the attributes of a service that truly delight, even surprise the client. In fact, the individual client, or the marketplace at large, might not even know these service attributes exist, much less that they might value them. They go beyond expectation: they are the wow factor. These wow factor service attributes need to be the focus of professional services marketing and woven into the fabric of thought leadership and client communications. What are your firm's wow factors?
As with products, services are subject to the same "downward pressure" of increasing expectations. Over time, those things that were once delighters become "must haves" as they become fully implemented and available and competitors catch up. What once was a wow factor will become a competency, and finally, only a must have. For this reason, marketing content rarely has the evergreen status that some thought leadership can have, and content needs to be continuously updated to reflect the new delighters and demonstrate that core competencies are state-of-the-art.
A detailed explanation of the model can be found here.