Keys To Understanding Situational Content Marketing

The right piece of content, be it a letter, email, phone call, tweet, e-book, etc., delivered at the right time can shorten the buying process dramatically and even completely convert an abandoned shopping cart into a purchase.

We all know that consumers want information. But where we fall short is identifying the what, how, and when they want it.

To put it succinctly; every industry, product, and process is entirely unique and requires careful attention to details and analytics. It also requires a deep understanding of human decision-making and the challenges we must overcome to get the sale.

Executing the content marketing strategy is best with a combination of automation, triggered events, semi-personalized, and completely personalized activities.

Know Your Audience:

Go beyond demographics and wants/needs that were aggregated by market research. Not all females age 25-40 with liberal arts college degrees, careers paying 35K-60K, living in a specific zip code think the same way – whether they have children, or do not. Nor do they face the same challenges or opportunities.

Stop using demographics and begin using true engagement information.

Digital media allows us to get hyper-specific in attracting audiences that are aligned around actual situations, lifestyle choices, and preferences. We often find that audiences that think and behave similarly have widely different demographics.

Knowing who they are and how they want to communicate is a key aspect to curating content for them. We all want to be appreciated and engage with information that is relevant to us. An easy way to make content feel personal is to make it personable.

Rather than writing content about selling a product (solving a problem they have); one option is to write about how YOU had a problem that was solved by the product. Use the marketing research info to confidently know which problems exist, how they appear, and how solutions are found.

By writing/expressing how you personally had a challenge, you become more peer-trustworthy. Prospects and suspects don’t want to be sold! We want our problems solved – preferably by someone who understands the cost/frustrations first-hand. With this as a start, incorporate your own personality or the ‘company brand’ in ways that are not forced.

Know Your Products:

No marketing tricks or gimmicks will ever replace intimate knowledge of products. This is considerably more than the facts and figures on the brochure and sales materials. It comes from real-world applications and personal stories.

Are you able to explain how the products work – on an engineer level, user level, buyer level, CEO/CFO level? Where do the products provide superior performance, moderate performance, and NO PERFORMANCE whatsoever? How do they compare to top competitors, bottom competitors, as well as their status quo? Be able to share stories of unexpected ways customers have pushed well beyond design expectations .

Be able to navigate between multiple products that are combined together into a cohesive portfolio that allows each one’s strengths makes the others’ weakness non-issues. This works weather you are selling socket sets, wrenches, and pliers; 401k, Roth IRA, Traditional IRA; or application functionalities across phones, tablets, desktops. Make it make sense to the buyer.

Know Your Process:

Understand the various stages of the decision-making process and use them as goals for progress and action. There is a big difference between encouraging someone to exchange contact information, subscribe to marketing automation, attend a free webinar, reserve time for a sales conversation, or close a 6-figure deal for integrating products and services.

Each should be handled differently. Depending on the product/industry, some of these can be automated, while others should be highly personalized. Some should be handled by different personalities, people, or departments.



What is written here is essentially the tip of a proverbial iceberg and there is much more to discuss and customize. Connect with me here and I am happy to have a conversation with you about ways to incorporate this into your marketing and sales efforts.

Connecting With Content

If you weren’t yet already aware; one of the big trends in business is Content Marketing, or Demand Marketing. It is about producing pieces of content – graphics, pictures, videos, memes, etc. that contains information about aspects of your business dealings without being overly promotional so that people will want to interact with it. It can be funny, clever, amazing, cute, customer testimonial, how-to guide, or simply informative. The key is to attract legitimate attention and interaction.

This is in stark contrast to the traditional model where marketers interrupt an event in order to promote their business. Whether you are interrupting our favorite TV show, listening to music, sports game, or other activity; people do not want such messages and are quite skilled at ignoring them. The only way we seem to interact with TV ads is to press the skip/fwd/adv button as soon as we can.

Social Aspect:

The basic premise is to create interesting pieces of information that people want to consume, then make it available in places they will find it and perhaps pass it along to others. Social media channels seem like perfect outlets for such content as it is easy to skim and share.

Reads, likes, comments, and shares drive up search rankings and integrate more easily with Alexa, Siri, and such.

Remember that humans are caring and social creatures (for the most part) and often share content with multiple friends who might also enjoy or benefit from your content. One influential follower who shares the post might bring additional hundreds or thousands of other viewers. And a video that has logged 1,000,000 views has likely earned more than double the exposure as viewers play it multiple times or play it for a group of friends/colleagues.

Beyond Social:

Content marketing allows for huge opportunities on social media but it has life beyond the newsfeed. Each interaction with content builds and strengthens a connection to other humans. These connections are  critical in forming preferences to brands for products or services.

They also help serve as early identification system for potential customers and can be the beginning of automated marketing systems to help them understand that they do, in fact, want/need your services.


Spam and unwanted email is easily filtered and discarded without ever being seen. But curated and focused emails are easily filtered to the TOP of a subscriber’s list. They also get opened – multiple times – and can multiple multiple clicks and interactions. All of this can be integrated into profiles/preferences that continue to make the sharing of content more effective.

Beyond The Sale:

Content programs drive sales. They also build social interactions (pre-sales). They can also be used for active and preventative support as well as add-on sales of new products. Most importantly, they can help convert customers into repeat customers, and even into powerful advocates who enthusiastically (without pay) help you attract and sell products to even new customers.

As you might have guessed, the best approach is that of a highly strategic plan that is integrated across multiple aspects of business operations. Interestingly, content can be used in many different purposes with only minor tweaks. A white paper can be broken into 3-4 blogs, and further into dozens of tweets to promote them both to different audiences through keywords and tags.



Feel free to connect with me to start the conversation on how we might incorporate a content strategy to suit your business needs.

A Look At Nearly 100 Years of Content Marketing

Important news for those who are ‘new’ to ideas of content marketing, advocate marketing, and brand journalism …


Betty Crocker was invented in 1921 by the Washburn Crosby Milling Company (before merging with others mills to create General Mills) to personalize the responses of thousands of customer inquiries about baking and how to use various products. Due to the overwhelming response, they hired as many as 21 women to answer as Betty and even began sponsoring cooking schools across the country. In 1924 ‘Betty’ was given a formal voice as Agnes White took to the radio to deliver Betty Crocker Cooking School on Air – a role she played in public for over two decades. Throughout this time, they produced and released thousands of recipes and uses of their Gold Medal Flour and other General Mills products.

By the mid 1950s, recipes were powerful tools for home brands like General Mills, Ball Jars, and Cuisinart; but Dorcas Reilly took things to a new level with her now-famous recipe of Green Bean Casserole that featured a boring grey product with a poor reputation. Campbell’s Soup estimates that at least 40% of the total sales (to date) of Cream of Mushroom Soup is sold to make this one recipe!

Recipes work because they are ‘content’ that people actually want, enjoy, and love to share. We are practically programmed to give it at the mention that someone likes what we made. The best part about them is that the recipe provides the product recommendation!

Modern content strategies (at least the really good ones) are designed to create similar effect. It is about creating situations where our customers and fans can rave about us to their friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family.

Blogs, memes, videos, e-books, white papers, infographics and the like are simply today’s version of a cooking recipe – good ‘how-to guides’ are always well-circulated and appreciated. Here are a couple simple keys to keep in mind:

  • Make content that is relevant and authentic to your brand.
    Not everyone needs a recipe or cat video. Share information that relates to product or company and that shows your unique strengths
  • Produce pieces that people want or enjoy.
    Nobody wants another commercial for your company, but might enjoy an exclusive look at how a your products are made, bloopers/outtakes from CEO video address, or something that reminds us you are human.

    Produce pieces that help your people/fans/customers look good when they choose to share it.

  • Give it for free
    Email addresses and membership subscriptions are merely about managing distribution – not about generating transactions. Make it easy if someone wants to make a transaction, but content messages are not commercial messages. The reason content works is because in not having an expectation of purchase, we build relationships with humans who enjoy it.

Rather than hand-written index files and spiral notebooks; we have powerful technology tools like Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Email to not only distribute content, but to also provide detailed tracking and analytics. This makes it easier for messages to quickly cover great distances while also making deep impact.

How effective is your content strategy?