If you’re a brand seeking to build and sustain demand using SaaS content marketing, there’s a holy trinity you need to define first. I’m working with a software company that finds itself doing just that in advance of demand-gen campaign investments. This answers the seminal questions: What do we say? How do we say it? And, how often do we say it?
What do we say? Message
What we say in our SaaS content marketing — about ourselves, our company, our market, our product, and our competitors — describes what we stand for. My recent article on point of view looks at the importance of having a strong, consistent and succinct position to draw upon as an organization. When we get into defining a messaging waterfall for content marketing, that point of view becomes a compass for everything that falls below it. Without a strong POV, lower-level messaging tends to get watered down or downright off strategy.
Virtually any company worth anything will say they have “messaging”. But far too often that messaging is too far from audience needs and pains. Those disconnects come from not having a clearly defined ideal customer profile and not having a well-defined point of view to draw against. Those weaknesses lead to offroad SaaS content marketing messaging that takes rogue positions in an effort to connect and provide value — all the while diluting the message and clouding the point of view.
An empathetic messaging waterfall is worth the effort. The exercise of working through word choices in various use-cases — one-liner, elevator pitch, recruiting pitch, five-minute, and even ten-minute pitches — can serve to include and exclude messaging that supports your POV.
Empathetic is key here in that everything needs to be audience focused rather than internally focused. That’s hard but really worth it. And if you have multiple personas, do it for each of them. It’s amazing how much or how little can impact your message. You’re creating a SaaS content marketing vocabulary here that gets elevated to a language when your voice is overlaid.
How do we say it? Voice
This is the cult of personality moment for your brand. How you say things may be more important than what you say. A lot of people may take issue with that, but it’s a very real and accurate statement. Your ability to build a tribe of loyal and passionate brand followers deeply depends on the persona you express through your SaaS content marketing.
Voice is not accidental. It should be intentionally crafted and defined — and then methodically managed. Do you want to be perceived as authoritative or weak? Warm or cold? Open or closed? Transparent or opaque? Friendly or standoffish? Light or heavy? Thoughtful or frivolous? Tidy or sloppy? Articulate or crude? Empathetic or apathetic? This list goes on and on, and these adjectives need to align with your brand, space, and character.
Once you have succinctly defined your voice, you should work to make that definition actionable. Voice can be challenging to maintain because it can be so soft and subjective. But just like a usage guide for a logo or a brand guide with vision and values, your voice guide can provide many examples of do’s and don’ts that paint a picture of how your voice should play out. The more examples you have, the easier it will be to maintain your voice across your organization’s myriad bits of content.
And part of your voice — how you say it — is your media choices. The written word looks and feels very different from the spoken word, or video, or interactive tools, or social channels. And distribution is part of it too. Owned media feels very different from earned or paid. The mix of media and distribution impacts your voice, and like your persona, that should be intentionally defined and maintained.
Using ourselves here at Married2Growth as an example — we started with just simple blog posts, then added podcasts, then ebooks, then video, then interactive tools, and now visual content. Over the course of eight
How often will we say it? Cadence
Cadence is critical because it sets your commitment level. In this case, commitment cuts both ways — to your audience and within your organization. The difference between one SaaS content marketing piece a week and three is huge. The chasm between blog posts and videos is epic. And the resources required to produce interactive content look nothing like those to produce podcasts. Cadence dovetails into media and cuts straight to budget and domain expertise.
But cadence also needs consistency. Audiences tend to be stickier when their expectations are consistently met. You may or may not notice that Married2Growth publishes religiously — three pieces per week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 8:00 am. And then we email a digest on Sunday mornings. We are steadfast and predictable in our cadence. So our cadence is consistent at three original pieces per week, plus the digest. Everyone knows that’s what to expect from us and we keep it coming.
Cadence and consistency lead to something important to note about content marketing. It takes time to gain traction. That’s the bad news. The good news is that — unlike campaigns — it’s sustainable. And, it’s generally a curve upward, rather than linear growth. But the sustainable part will surely come — as long as you keep up the message, voice and cadence over time. Good luck!