The long-prevailing wisdom is to align content to the customer’s buying stage and/or the sales process stage.
This approach reflects an outdated content alignment and management mindset. Yes, we all long for simpler days of old. It’s the folder mindset that says, “we need to group content within hierarchical folder categories.”
Buying and selling stages are a rather obtuse concept. Few content users or their audiences really know or think about what stage of the decision / selling process they’re in. The Gartner Buying Journey model below shows a more realistic reality.
So, aligning content to the yellow box stage doesn’t accomplish much. It probably contributes to confusion and difficulty finding exactly the right asset, quickly.
This simplistic thinking also causes you to miss content requirements that a more rigorous approach will identify.
Asking, “how will my content users go about looking for content?” is a better approach. This is what should be defined in your content strategy work.
The Principle is Context
We arrived at our model years ago when we were working on enhancements to improve content relevance, usefulness and performance.
By defining context at a more granular level we were able to develop an architecture that clarified specific content performance requirements. We found it applied to all situations and clients.
A simple and good starting approach is to “align” content to the prioritized categories below. Number one is top priority. As you can see, this list upends current thinking.
- The question content addresses or answers with information
- The mico-decisions customers have that the answer to the question (information) supports
- The purposes (plural) the content serves: for content users as well as audiences (eg attention, provoke new thinking, inform/answer, explain, show/demonstrate, prove, validate/confirm
- The context — specific use case or situation, of which there are many
- The buying decision stage
- The persona
If you can align to only one thing — make it the question each asset addresses. But as you will see next, this simple framework is where you must go, soon.
The Future is Present
To leverage today’s AI oriented information systems requires contextual tagging. It’s tagging that will make content easier to find. More precise tagging will yield more focused and appropriate search recommendations. Tagging replaces buyer journey stage content alignment.
This approach also yields significant benefits for your content inventory and audit process. This activity ceases to be a high effort, periodic project (or not). With the right tag combinations, for scenarios you want to investigate, it becomes a simple, anytime, instantaneous “audit.”
If your spreadsheets are becoming tiresome and hard to maintain, redirect your time and effort into enhancing your information architecture. Define a comprehensive tagging schema. Your content users and audiences will appreciate the result.