How to Create an Industry-Specific Content Strategy

Marketing Strategy
by Liz Alton

Today’s content marketing efforts are getting results when they speak directly to niche audiences. One way to do this starts with effectively segmenting your audience by industry. However, developing an in-depth, industry-specific content strategy requires several steps, from consulting with your sales department to conducting a competitive analysis.

Whether you are thinking of taking your products into a new business-to-business (B2B) vertical or exploring how to penetrate a different industry market, here is a five-step strategy you can use to develop industry-specific content.

1. Invest in background research. Every industry has its own unique operating models, challenges, and terminology, and it’s impossible to develop an effective content strategy without investing the time needed to understand them. Take a deep dive into background research by looking at industry reports produced by companies like McKinsey, Forrester, IDC, and others. Read the top trade publications in your space, and use them to get a feel for the issues the companies you are targeting are struggling with now. Write a short summary of your industry analysis to provide a narrative background for your content strategy.

2. Talk to sales reps and prospective customers. Your content strategy must address pain points and issues your target customers are facing. While your background research will provide important insights and may help you form hypotheses on what’s happening in your target companies, there is no substitution for connecting with people who deal with these issues every day. Talk to sales reps who deal with these clients or who even directly with sample customers. Ask questions such as:

  • What are your top pain points?
  • What are the issues that keep you awake at night?
  • What are the most frequently asked questions your sales department hears from prospective customers?
  • What issues are customers trying to solve with your products or service?
  • When you connect with satisfied customers, what benefits and solutions are they most excited about?

3. Conduct a competitive analysis. Who are your key competitors? Take a look at their messaging strategies from their websites to blogs, social media channels, and articles published on outside channels. What topics are they discussing? How are they approaching the market? While you don’t want to copy what they’re doing, a holistic analysis of how your competitors are approaching content marketing can provide insights into the types of content and topics that matter most to your audience.

4. Think about language. Often, industries have a specific linguistic focus, which is important to understand and use in your materials with them. By using industry terms and speaking to the forces shaping their business landscape, you build immediate credibility with prospective customers. Look at different sources, including competitor literature, conference agendas, and trade journal articles to get a sense of the language your target customers use to discuss their problems. Incorporate these insights into your language plan.

5. Develop series ideas around themes. Think about the storylines and key themes you uncovered during your research, and align them to look for common patterns. Each pattern or narrative line provides a natural hook for a series of content. For example, if you’re targeting the automotive industry, you might focus on optimizing the production process or selling more effectively to customers. Taking a series-based approach can help you gain traction more quickly with your content while developing a plan that’s possible to execute.

Vertical strategies can be an effective way to grow your business and target your products and services to a whole new class of clients. However, in today’s market, it’s important to back up any sales strategy with the right content-based conversation with prospective customers. By following this five-step process, you will be well on your way to developing an effective, industry-focused content marketing strategy.

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