Marketing

The Other “M” in Content Strategy: Merchandising!

Content Merchandising is a philosophy and methodology that is a crucial part of any sales and marketing program. A comprehensive Content Merchandising plan will attract potential buyers, reaffirm purchase or contract decisions and in general facilitate partnerships, rather than mere sales transactions with your clients.

These are some common questions about Content Merchandising.

What exactly is Content Merchandising?

Content Merchandising is leveraging content during the sales cycle to validate your message, accelerate the decision making process, reaffirm decision making and foster conversations around your product or service that will promote the brand. Unlike the more-commonly discussed Content Marketing, Content Merchandising is more powerful at the mid and lower sections of the traditional sales funnel. Its focus is not to develop brand awareness for your company and its offerings, but to help close a sale.

For example, you might develop a series of videos or articles on your readers’ industry trends and buying habits that specifically educates and motivates advertisers to place their ads with your brand. Or, for your readers, you could create a featured article that is typically behind a paywall, but available for review in short time frames, to drive paid subscription sales.

Get more details: What is Content Merchandising?

Literally, what kind of content?

Almost any content can serve a role in your Content Merchandising plan. Interviews, articles, video, white papers, case studies, blogs, and product descriptions are all examples of valuable, leverage-able content.

How do I start or re-start our program?

Create a plan. First, identify your buyers, then create personas and map their sales journey. Now create or curate content to add value to each step of the process. Determine what you have and what you need. Curating existing content is faster and cheaper but remember that you will need fresh and relevant content to keep your audience engaged and provide authentic value. An Editorial or Content Calendar is useful to help you with planning. This can be built according to a unique buyer experience, e.g. advertisers  in an annual visitors guide, or it can cover a thoughtful, consistent delivery of content for buyers regardless of stage.

How do I make my content more valuable?

Validate with supporting content. Link your content to, or reference other content which either adds value or supports your message. Make it easy for your prospects to answer typical questions with third party data.

More on linking for SEO and value: Linking best practices

How do I know it’s working?

Create, curate, engage, measure, analyze, adjust, re-engage. This is your workflow. Collecting analytics can be automated or manual. There are many digital platforms to help gauge the effectiveness of your content, but don’t forget to actually talk to your clients.

What’s the difference between Content Merchandising and Content Marketing?

Many will argue very little, but I believe the difference is significant. In my opinion, Content Marketing is camouflaging sponsored content to appear independent and drive buyers to a service or product. Content Merchandising is openly providing relevant information and data to potential and existing clients. The difference is subtle but important. You promote your Content Merchandising program as helping guide clients through their journey.

Content Merchandising is more than the content itself. It’s the concerted effort of an organization to add value and assist clients throughout the entire business engagement. For all organizations this requires collaboration, creativity and passion for the product, service or platform. My next post will cover the basic tools and systems that make this easier!

In the meantime, you can check out these Content Merchandising tools.

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content merchandisingMore about Patrick: Patrick Becker is the founder and President of Aysling, the creators of MagHub and editorial solutions for publishers of all sizes. For 12 years Aysling has helped revolutionize the way companies create, curate and present their content to their audiences. Through a combination of workflow, technology, and expert professionals, they help you deliver your message to any platform and any device, not just at any time, but the right time to engage your clients, users, and followers.

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