Customer-Focused Content Marketing: A Definitive Guide to Driving SaaS and B2B Growth With Content Strategies

by | Sep 2, 2022 | CFCM

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Because this is a definitive guide to customer-focused content marketing, this article is going to be very comprehensive. Feel free to navigate it with the ToC widget but I wouldn't advise skipping the  "Achilles Heel" section. Alternatively, click here to download an e-book version for offline reading. If you gain any value from the piece (and you will), kindly share it and link back to it in your articles.

A few days ago, I was taking a casual evening stroll through the park with my husky prancing about my feet happily. A few minutes in, I pulled out my phone to check the time because who uses wristwatches anymore, right? 

Out of nowhere, someone ran past me and snatched my phone away. I couldn’t chase after them quickly enough and, since there weren’t that many people around, I couldn’t call for help either. So, there I was with no phone and a mess my dog had left for me to pick up on the other side of the park. Safe to say I wasn’t having the best weekend.

But, here’s an interesting fact about that story – none of it is true. I haven’t had a dog since I was fourteen and, even then, he wasn’t a husky. The nearest park is at least five bus stops away and the only time I’ve been the victim of a crime in the last ten years or so was a few weeks ago when I tried peanut-flavored ice cream for the first time.

I know that you barely care about a random guy walking through the park and you care even less about his fake story but I went through the trouble of wasting your time and telling you anyway because I liked it.

Sadly, this is really how many brands think. They come up with something they think is great and could be engaging. They go through the trouble of putting it all together without consulting their target audience and they publish. When it flops, emotions run high, money goes down the drain, budgets get cut, and the world is a little less colorful.

In reality, all of it could’ve been avoided if they’d simply prioritized their customer from the start. That is precisely what we’re here to talk about – creating and executing a customer-focused strategy. So, without further ado or fake stories, let’s dive right in!

What (Precisely) Does it Mean to Create a Customer-Focused Content Strategy?

The B2B world is dead on its feet from all the unnecessary definitions that follow article introductions. But stay with me here. This one’s important because I need to quickly point out a common misconception.

Jennifer Leigh Brown, Senior Vice President, Marketing Communications at Fulton Bank and Columnist at UX Booth puts it this way: “Customer-focused content is [the type of content that’s] informed by knowledge of the target audience and presented in a way that connects with them.”

Notice how there’s no mention of Google or social media algorithms or anything of that sort? That’s about as simple and down-to-earth as it gets. The slight misconception I referenced earlier is in this definition but we’ll get to it later. In the meantime, two things jump out of Jennifer Leigh Brown’s definition of customer-focused content: 

  • A knowledge of the target audience 
  • Presenting content in a way that connects with them

Toeing a slightly different path, Tony Stillwell, Former VP of Product at DivvyHQ, says this:

“A customer-centric content strategy […] puts the needs of the customer first. Rather than thinking about how content can drive more traffic to your site and boost sales, you create it primarily to solve your customers’ problems.”


Padmaja Santhanam, Partner & Growth Manager at FirstPrinciples puts it like this: “The goal of customer-focused content marketing is to create content that provides value to your target audience and helps them achieve their goals.” This definition has the same direction as Jennifer Leigh Brown’s. But, we’ll skip that for now.

Finally, Krittin Kalra, Founder of WriteCream says: “[Customer-focused content marketing is] about understanding your customer’s needs, understanding your business’s goals, and then creating content that will help your customer get what they want.”

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice a pattern. All marketing professionals interviewed and quoted above acknowledge the customers/target audience as the centerpiece in any customer-focused content strategy.

Ultimately, if I were to have a crack at it, I’d put it this way:

“A customer-focused content strategy is one that puts its customers at the center of every content marketing decision from the strategy to the distribution phase.”

OLUWASEGUN OYEBODE, FOUNDER AND chief content strategist at beagital

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t consider other factors, ranging from the competitors to the viability of the product/service you’re looking to ship. 

However, beyond all those things, with a customer-centric strategy, you’re looking at the specific problems the customer has. Note that you’re getting these problems from actual conversations with the customer, not wild guesses. You’re also looking at what the customers need to solve those problems and you’re offering your product as the bridge between that gap. It’s that simple.

What it Looks Like in the Real World: A Brief Analysis of Animalz

About seven years ago, Animalz was born. When they initially started out, the company barely paid any attention to content marketing, even though that was at the center of their value proposition. Their Twitter page was mostly tumble weeds.

Animalz joined Twitter roughly three years after they’d been founded. 

Still, Animalz didn’t make their first post until about a year after they joined. Cute elephant GIF, though.

Similarly, their website was a single landing page with only the bare minimum amount of information.

Screenshot of Animalz’s website in 2016 taken from

As Devin Bramhall, CEO at Animalz put it, the company wasn’t “drinking its own kool-aid.” But, all that changed in 2018.

The brand redesigned its website entirely, putting its customers first with everything from social proof to decision-influencing guides as opposed to simply giving them a place to find contact information. Alongside that, Animalz began putting significant amounts of thought into its content strategy, making conscious effort to stand out from the painfully oversaturated content marketing space. 

Ryan Law, Vice President of Content at Animalz, discusses this in a recent LinkedIn post and in more detail via a full-length article. According to him, the purpose of their strategy, as initiated by former VP of Growth at Animalz, Jimmy Daly, is to drive the right type of traffic to their blog.

Specifically, Animalz is looking to reach out to a very small group of incredibly smart individuals who just would not be swayed by a regurgitation and mashup of Google’s front page articles and a bunch of keywords strung together into a mediocre article. In many ways, this is true for most internet audiences. A lot of B2B and SaaS buyers are simply tired of getting the same ol’ pieces of information written with no consideration for their actual needs.

Alongside that, Ryan Law explains that the content marketing industry is awfully overwhelmed and every piece of content needs to be able to convince prospects that the company actually knows its onions.

So, how do all these insights play out in their content marketing strategy? First off, Ryan states that Animalz always ensures that they’re writing content that’s smart and credible. This is a direct demonstration of the company’s understanding of its target audience – smart founders and CMOs who wouldn’t spend several thousand dollars on a contract just because. 

Secondly, Animalz writes content that’s vastly different from what everyone else is writing, giving them the opportunity to stand out from the competition. Finally, and this sounds so simple that it’s almost a no-brainer, the company writes stuff that’s really good. This shows its audience that it’s actually able to do what it says it can.

Today, here’s what their blog looks like:

Scrolling down further would reveal a few more topics that are a significant deviation from the regular “best tools for editing.” Plus, you’d hardly find a piece that begins with an intro as mundane as “Creating a content marketing strategy can be difficult.” While these aren’t bad per se, they’re not exactly what their ideal customers would be impressed by. So, Animalz simply doesn’t give them much attention and it works for them.

The Achilles Heel in Most Brands’ Approach to Content Marketing

People have been actively writing about customer-focused strategies and practicing it as well as they can for several decades. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be working out for them. What exactly could be the problem?

Here’s my theory to answer that – many brands still think of customer-focused content marketing as audience-focused content marketing. It’s a slight distinction that I’ll explain in a few but it makes all the difference in revenue, results, and everything else in between.

The Difference Between Focusing on an Audience and Focusing on Your Customers

Your audience and your customers aren’t always the same group of people. 

First off, no, it’s not just semantics. At least, not within the context of this conversation. But, after spending the last few years as a marketer using “audience” and “customers” interchangeably when talking about content, it’s completely understandable if you think it is. That said, let’s first try to understand the difference between the two key words.


In this context, an audience is a group of people who are actively consuming your content because it impacts them one way or another, regardless of the format. 

But, while they’re actively interested in consuming your content, they’re not necessarily interested in buying your product. To put that in perspective, I want you to picture a scenario with me:

You’re a freelance writer who’s just been handed a brief. You’re meant to write about the impact of artificial intelligence in the cybersecurity industry or something of that sort. It’s a very narrow niche and you know that you’re not going to get anything from Google. Even if you’re going to speak to a subject matter expert, you still need some background knowledge.

So, you risk the tidiness of your email inbox and register for McAfee’s webinar. Surprisingly, it’s pretty good and, afterward, you head over to their YouTube page to spend the next three hours piecing together all the information you can find.

Now, even though you did just spend at least four hours actively consuming McAfee’s content, you know that you’re not going to be purchasing any of their computer security offers any time soon. Sure, their brand awareness goals have been achieved with you and their content has certainly been impactful. But, that’s just about it.

In this scenario, you’re simply a member of their target audience. While their content was good enough to attract and engage you, it couldn’t have convinced you to buy from them for one or more of the following reasons:

  • It wasn’t the right type of content to inspire a purchase.
  • You’d only just begun your very lengthy customer journey.
  • You were simply a member of the target audience, not an ideal customer.

The last point cannot be overemphasized.


These are people who are actively interested in buying your product or service because it is precisely what they need or want. Unlike your target audience, these individuals aren’t just consuming your content for the sake of it. Instead, they’re using your content as research materials to fuel and/or guide their decision making process.

Think of every time you watched a product demo while considering options for your next SaaS purchase. Think of every time you curiously clicked on a case study to see if X brand actually knows what they’re doing. Try to remember every time you passively or actively read a blog post from a certain brand, knowing that in the near or distant future, you might need to work with them or buy from them.

If you ended up buying under any of these circumstances, you were a customer. If you didn’t, I’ll take a wild guess and say that it was one or more of the following:

  • You were not convinced by the content. It was simply too weak in comparison to your other choices.
  • There were other factors that came into play for you – price, customer service, poor reviews from your peers, etc.
  • Something changed and you didn’t need the product/service any more.

Regardless of why you chose to bail in the end, for as long as it lasted, you were a qualified lead and a potential customer with high purchase intent and content would’ve played an essential part in your final decision.

The Central Correlation Between the Two

Pardon the rudimentary (venn?) diagram. I’m sure dad would be happy to know I didn’t pay a lot of attention to math class – or art class, apparently. But, all things being equal, here’s the main gist of the little infographic above:

  • Every customer you have consumes your content one way or another AND IS interested in purchasing your product as well.
  • Every member of your audience consumes your content BUT ISN’T necessarily interested in purchasing your product. 
  • All your customers are members of your audience but not all members of your audience are your customers.
  • Finally, and this is a long one, marketers often say you should focus on giving value to your customers instead of focusing on your product. But, value creation and product promotion/recommendation aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.  So long as you’re not focusing excessively on your product, you should weave it into your content, especially if it’s a relevant solution to the problem your customers are trying to solve. This is particularly important in content created for people with high purchase intent.

All the information above links back to the primary reason why I had issues with some of the definitions of customer-focused content marketing above. Because your audience (people consuming your content) aren’t always interested in your product, it’s safe to say that they’re not your customers for the foreseeable future. As such, painting your audience and your customers with the same stroke of your brush might be detrimental to your strategy.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore your audience entirely. That’ll be a terrible idea. But, creating content just for them wouldn’t particularly be great because you’d be hitting several KPIs. Just not the ones that truly keep your business afloat – revenue. Here’s a bit more context:

Implications of Focusing on Your Audience vs. Focusing on Your Customers

When you focus on your audience in your content marketing strategy, you’re creating content that those people can be educated, informed or entertained by. When you focus on your customers in your content marketing strategy, you’re creating content that can fuel these people’s purchase decisions and directly impact your revenue. 

Take Superside, for example. Formerly Konsus, the company provides design services to enterprises and scaleups on a subscription basis. In essence, they’re a B2B digital service provider – just the type of people I like to work with

Superside has (had) over 450 customers. Considering that they were founded in 2015, you might wonder why they’ve not managed to cross a thousand. Here’s a short answer: they don’t need to. The screenshot below is the perfect case in point.

Their services are often used by incredibly large companies where c-level executives make decisions regarding how much to invest in marketing, among other things. As such, it’s safe to say that in many ways, these are the people that Superside would want to be talking to in their marketing communications. These CMOs, VPs, CEOs, founders, etc. are the primary decision makers that would create a predictable stream of revenue for Superside.

Having established their ideal customers, here’s a blog post by Superside:

A quick glance through the article shows that it’s well-written with the right mix of CTAs, examples to help paint a vivid image for the audience and even a little bit of good-natured humor.

This isn’t particularly surprising, considering that the author, Piotr Smietana, is a creative director with several years of experience in design and marketing. 

Here’s the thing, though: The piece of content, informative as it is, would likely be more useful to a designer or an aspiring designer than a CMO, VP or CEO. The article does redeem itself in the conclusion with a CTA to drive the desired action. 

Unfortunately, considering that it’s not exactly built for the average CMO, VP, or CEO who’s not actively looking to design anything in the near future, they might not even open it in the first place.

Summarily, while that article might drive traffic for them, it’s unlikely to make a direct impact on revenue. If your website is populated with content like this as opposed to customer-focused content, you’ll probably hit the engagement and traffic KPIs but you might not translate that to sales.

That said…

Your Audience Does NOT Deserve to be Ignored in Your Customer-Focused Content Marketing Plans

If you’ve made it this far, you might think that I’m opposed to writing content for people who aren’t actively looking to buy your product. To make it crystal clear, I am not. It’s awfully impractical for two major reasons:

  • When you’re writing for your customers alone, the majority of your content is primarily geared towards making sales. This could leave your marketing channels looking bland, overly sales oriented and disconnected from everyone else.
  • When you focus only on bottom-of-the-funnel marketing content, you’ll lose an excellent opportunity to capture those who are still in the awareness stage of their buyer’s journey.

What I am preaching, instead of ignoring your audience, is to find a balance.

Write for people who simply need to be educated by your content. But, most importantly, write for those who actually want to buy from you. Your audience is important and caring about them is not up for debate. But, Alongside that, you need to keep your business afloat. Yes, I intentionally struck out “but” because both points aren’t mutually exclusive.

Brands Who Get the Balance Right: Superside & HubSpot

After putting Superside in the hot seat just a few paragraphs ago, it’s probably surprising that they made it to this section. Plus, HubSpot has been referenced so many times in content marketing, it’s almost like they founded the concept now. Regardless, these two stellar companies are excellent examples of finding the balance between creating for your audience and your customers.


While I have spent the majority of this article discussing my reservations with audience-focused content that Superside creates, the brand strikes a balance that offers them quite a few advantages. 

For example, focusing on their audience has gotten them no less than 300k visitors every month for at least three months now, with search engines making up nearly half of that number.

An audience that large means that they’ll have increased brand awareness, at the very least. Plus, with that type of content, they can spark important conversations that turn even more heads their way.

Unfortunately, like I said, there’s not a lot of room to translate all these great metrics into revenue. It really is difficult to get your ideal customer to pay significant attention to something that just wasn’t made for them. That’s why I find it pretty great that Superside throws customer-focused content into its mix, too.

Here’s an example of the latter:

Admittedly, an article about the importance of excellent design is more along the lines of ToFu and MoFu content. As such, it’s unlikely to translate directly into revenue for them. But, as opposed to writing for designers and other people looking to learn the skill, it sells their unique value proposition to core decision makers – their ideal customers.

Here’s another example to illustrate my point:

This is even better than the first because it’s bottom-of-the-funnel content. Being a piece of BoFu content that directly speaks to Superside’s ideal customers, the article has a greater chance of inspiring desired action and driving revenue. 

That said, you should keep this example in mind. It’ll come up later in this article. Kinda like the millions of easter eggs Marvel leaves in all its shows.


HubSpot was founded in 2006 but it staked its claim in inbound marketing around 2010 when its founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah wrote a book titled “Inbound Marketing.” 

Since then, HubSpot has been covering practically every subject that its audience might be even remotely interested in. Emphasis on “remotely.”

Here’s an example on YouTube challenges to try out:

Depending on how you choose to look at it, this isn’t that bad. Plus, the company does cover other topics directly related to marketing, sales, and practically everything else in between. 

But, with reference to “remotely” like I mentioned earlier, here’s another example of an article that HubSpot wrote on how to type shrug emojis:

Unsure how this could possibly tie back to their customers. I suppose this could be useful to marketers and SDRs? I can’t pretend to know, really.

Marketing professionals have criticized this broad approach to content creation that HubSpot uses. Tim Soulo, CMO at Ahrefs, for example, once said: “It blows my mind how [you can] take a person who is looking to type [the] shrug emoji to signing up for marketing software.”

In case you were wondering, this isn’t exactly him singing their praise. He was being sarcastic. How do I know? Call it a hunch.

In quite a few ways, I agree with him, but that’s an entirely different topic. In terms of sheer numbers alone, these tactics are working for them.

HubSpot has an incredible amount of earned media and they make it look easy. On Twitter, for example, at any given point in time, someone somewhere in the world is mentioning HubSpot on their feed. 

If you’d like to take me up on this, indulge me in a fun little experiment. Go to your Twitter page and type “HubSpot” into the search bar. Then, click on the “Latest” tab. The most recent tweet can not be any longer than an hour ago. 

The screenshot below is the perfect case in point. I took it right after writing the paragraph above.

Now, I’m more than willing to admit that not all the mentions are going to be positive and they won’t all drive people to HubSpot’s website. At best, they’ll increase/reinforce brand awareness.

But, even if they’re not all positive, many of them still are. One of HubSpot’s most brilliant audience-focused content marketing strategies makes people excited enough to show off their marketing certifications across social media.

Again, here’s a screenshot to prove:

If you go to LinkedIn, you’ll see several profiles with these certifications, even though HubSpot isn’t primarily an e-learning platform.

Beyond the mentions, people are also constantly interacting with HubSpot and consuming their content, too.

Their website has attracted around 40m visitors every month for three months.

Their blog, too, isn’t doing so bad with no less than 12m visitors every month.

Interestingly, more than 80% of that traffic comes from search engines.

In more ways than one, this is impressive. 

But, what I find even more impressive is the balance HubSpot strikes here. With regards to customer-focused content, they have a pillar page dedicated entirely to showing you just why you should choose them.

They also have several case studies designed to help you make a decision.

And, in the perfect show of care for their customers, all the case studies are organized into different industries. That way, it’s significantly easier for you to see precisely how they can help you.

This dual focus on their audience and customers is working wonders for the company. In 2021, they made more than a billion dollars.

In the same report where they shared that detail, they predicted that they would earn between $381 to $383 million in the first quarter of 2022.

According to their Q1 2022 report, they surpassed it. 

In that same report, they predicted that the second quarter would bring between $409 to $410 million. Yet again, as seen in their Q2 2022 report, they surpassed it.

Talk about growth!

Why All of this is Important

Put simply, by focusing on your customers (without neglecting your audience), you’re significantly more likely to tie your content marketing efforts to revenue generation. 

I’d use HubSpot to illustrate this point again but that would be impractical because:

  • HubSpot has been doing this for more than a decade.
  • They are miles away from a “small team” with nearly 6,500 employees, many of which are marketers.
  • Their customer-focused content is so diluted with audience-focused materials alongside ads that influence revenue that it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint what exactly drives their growth from the outside. That guesswork doesn’t serve our purposes. 

So, let’s circle back to Animalz, shall we? They have also been in the game for quite a while but their numbers might still be within reach.

I reached out to Jimmy Daly, the original creator of Animalz’s customer-focused content marketing strategy, while writing this piece. I wanted to learn precisely how these efforts have translated to growth for the company. Thankfully, he was kind enough to point me in the direction of some literature he had authored in that regard.

In one of those articles, Jimmy gave a quick account of how he listened to their customers’ desire about wanting to go upmarket. Long story short, he made that desire the crux of one of their blog posts. Said blog post helped Animalz get a few leads and close $100,000 in revenue.

Another quick example is Cognism. They’re a sales intelligence company that provides contact details of prospects. Their primary users are sales, RevOps, and marketing teams in the B2B space. Here’s a quick peek at their blog content:

The first piece of content is expert-driven, educative and specifically written for their primary users – sales reps. The second is a case study, which is significantly more ROI-driven and could aid the purchase decision of someone nearing the end of their journey. The third article in the screenshot is an interview with the VP of Sales at SaaStr. Again, this is written specifically with their target users in mind. 

So, what Cognism has is a balance of educational content and ROI-driven BoFu pieces. This type of balance that I’ve been preaching since the start of this piece helped them generate up to $88,000 in annual revenue from content alone.

Now, I can’t promise that you’ll shoot up to a billion dollars in ARR like HubSpot right after reading this piece and implementing its advice. But, all things considered, by focusing on your customers, you’re much more likely to set yourself up for success than if you simply and only chased vanity metrics in the form of SEO rankings, site traffic, etc.

Remember, you’re not a news website where higher traffic equals a higher potential for profitable adverts. You’re a sales-driven company. So, it only makes sense that you focus on the drivers of your profit/sales – your customers.

The only question now — is how. In the next few sections, I’ll cover the strategy, execution, and distribution processes in as much detail as necessary. But, let me just say that it’ll break my heart if you didn’t read the em dash as a pause for dramatic effect.

Building a Customer-Focused Content Strategy from Scratch

While your customers are incredibly important, they cannot be the only ones that you’ll focus on while creating your content strategy. Before you even begin putting pen to paper, you need to develop a wholesome understanding of your business, as well as your competitors, among others.

That said, there are roughly five primary steps you’ll need to go through if you’re looking to create a customer-focused content strategy.

Step One: Develop a Wholesome Understanding of the Company You’re Creating For

While this might seem like an obvious point, it’s still important note if you fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • You’re a new marketing hire and your responsibility is to lead the creation and execution of a new or refined content marketing strategy for your company.
  • You’re a (bootstrapped) founder who has to wear multiple hats to ensure that the company stays afloat in its delicate starting years.
  • Like me, you’re an independent professional (not a full-time staff) who’s been contracted to lay (or build on) the foundation of a company’s content marketing efforts.

In any of these three cases, as a matter of top priority, you need to develop a deep understanding of the business first. You’re not penning down any strategies and you’re certainly not making any creative or business decisions either. You’re simply “gathering context.”

If you belong to either of the first and third categories, you’ll want to organize a meeting with the key stakeholders of the company – the founder(s), VP of Marketing, and any other person who is directly relevant to what you’re trying to learn. If you’re a founder, your key stakeholders would be your co-founder (where applicable) and your notepad because this will be more of an introspection session for you than an actual interview.

There are four core areas you want to concentrate on here:

Understanding the Business’ Value Proposition Deeply and Why the Audience Should Care About It

In other words, here, you’re trying to find out precisely what your company does and why it’s important. If you already have a GTM strategy or a business plan, both of which are properly documented, you shouldn’t have much trouble answering these questions as they should outline your value proposition and differentiating qualities.

However, if you don’t, especially if you belong in the first and third categories referenced earlier, ask your stakeholders the following questions:

What led to the creation of the business? Here, you’re looking for a story. You want to know exactly what challenges the founders faced when they decided to abandon the security and comfort of their regular jobs for a project that could swing either way. 

By listening to their story, especially the part where they explain the challenge that spurred the creation of the business, you should be able to find their value proposition. After all, the product is meant to be a unique solution to a problem.

Of course, you can always go the easy route and simply ask “what problems are you trying to solve?” In fact, if circumstances require that approach, you should go for it. I simply find that getting a story as opposed to a single-sentence answer humanizes the brand, sets things in perspective and helps to fish out details that are often hidden behind a layer of business lingo.

Why do they think that the ideal customers should be bothered enough to care about their business? While this is directly or otherwise related to the value proposition, I often use this question to dig a little deeper into the business. 

Multiple companies are probably already doing what your company is doing. Why should your ideal customers care about you and what you bring to the table? That is the point of this question and it’s incredibly important to find a wholesome answer. You should be looking for something that differentiates you from everyone else.

Take SemRush and Ahrefs, for example. They’re both very well known SEO tools second to almost none other in the industry. At the surface level, both of them can help you do a pretty decent amount of keyword research. But, when you dive a little deeper, they each have their differences.

Brian Dean, Founder at Backlinko wrote an extensive analysis of both brands after using them for about twelve years.

Here’s the skinny to help illustrate my point:

One of the many key differences he highlighted between the two brands was with regards to keyword research. When researching a keyphrase, Ahrefs essentially shows you CPC, competition and search volume. Semrush, on the other hand, shows you extensive data on every term you search for including the number of terms and search volume trend.

While this might seem inconsequential, it could make all the difference in the final decision of a buyer. A keyword analyst, for example, might find Semrush’s extensive details useful when analyzing a hundred keywords. A regular content marketer might simply want less clutter on their screen. 

Both of these brands can market these differences as reasons their customers should care about their value proposition.

What are the use cases of the product? Asking this question helps you segment the customers into different groups. It could also be incredibly useful for creating very targeted bottom-of-the-funnel content. 

Gong is one of the many brands that excels in this regard. See below:

Just so you know, the company still has more use cases. These were simply the ones I could accommodate in one screenshot. Secondly, while the solutions aren’t explicitly categorized as use cases, they’re still designed as pages explaining what Gong is useful for. I think this level of detail is excellent to say the least. 

Use case

Each of these pages are an opportunity to rank, generate leads, close deals, etc. Understanding your use cases and finding ways to leverage them is a great step towards building a solid content strategy.

Aligning on Realistic and Achievable Goals for the Company

This part is included in the first step because you really cannot (or shouldn’t be) setting goals on your own. So, take the time to ask your key stakeholders (or yourself) precisely why you’re investing in customer-focused content marketing.

Again, notice that I’m not telling you to directly ask what goals you’re trying to achieve. The distinction is fairly important because it helps to uncover deep-seated motivations. If your collective answer to the question is something along the lines of “everyone else is doing it,” that’s definitely not the right answer. 

If your response, however, is something along the lines of needing more people to understand your product, creating a long-term and sustainable revenue driver, building a community, among others, you’re on the right path.

Once you’ve uncovered the main desires, you (and I mean, the marketing manager or founder) can then transform them into SMART goals. A few examples of said goals could include:

  • Increasing the total number of email subscribers over x period
  • Increasing search engine rankings on x keywords before x quarter of the year
  • Increasing customer retention rates by x% in x months

Some goals like improving customer education and loyalty are a bit more difficult to “SMARTify” as they’re a tad challenging to measure. For those, you need to use your discretion to create key performance indicators to measure them. 

For instance, to measure customer engagement, you can track positive interactions with your company on social media and use that as a soft determinant of engagement levels.

The most important note about this section is that your goals must be realistic. If you’re going to break into the AI-assisted writing industry, for example, you cannot possibly hope to outcompete the big guys currently dominating there in three months. At least, not without significant financial investment.

In my experience, three key factors contribute to the scope of the goals you set and whether or not you can achieve them:

  • How far the company has gone with its previously-set goals
  • What the company was able to do efficiently and otherwise prior to this meeting 
  • The company’s existing processes and budget to facilitate the results they’re looking to achieve

Each of these factors might require further investigation if they provide less than desirable responses. Regardless, they’re a great place to start.

Figuring Out Who the Customers Are

Much like the first core area to work out in this step, you can also figure out who the customers are looking at your GTM strategy and/or business plan. If you don’t have either of those yet, you can do one or both of two things:

  • Consult the use cases earlier created. If your product is useful for the execution of a certain job, then the people doing that job would form a core part of your customers.
  • Speak directly to the key stakeholders in your company. Apart from asking who they want to serve, also ask the type of people they’ve been getting inquiries from. These people constitute what I would call “unintended customers.”

Remember that you’re only trying to figure out who the customers are for now. The in-depth customer research comes later.

Identifying the Competitors

The last point in learning about the company is identifying the competitors. You can group these entities into three specific categories:

Primary Competitors: These competitors offer products that are directly related to yours and to ideal customers that are essentially the same as yours. Think Nike and Adidas, Apple and Samsung, Marvel and DC, etc. They’re the most important and the ones you should be most worried about.

Secondary Competitors: These competitors offer different products in your category. For example, a person selling motorcycles and a person selling cars solves the same problem – transportation. But, their target customers would be significantly different. Regardless, these types of competitors are relatively good sources of information during competitor analysis.

Tertiary Competitors: These companies may serve the same ideal customers as you but they’re not a threat to you because their products are significantly different from yours. A quick example is Cognism and Metadata.

Metadata helps B2B marketers automate otherwise repetitive and tedious tasks. Cognism helps B2B marketers, among others, to “access account and contact data on demand.”

Their target audience is the same. Their products/value propositions are different.

Step Two: Understand Past Content Efforts and How they Can be Refined

This may not be important if your company is brand new as there really is nothing to understand or study. In that case, feel free to skip ahead to the “juicier” parts.

That said, if you are building a customer-focused content strategy for a company that’s been around for (at least) a couple of months, the chances are that the company has already gone a certain direction with their content efforts before. After aligning on company goals, value proposition and everything else discussed in step one, you need to understand what that initial content direction was. 

To do that, you need to study and, where necessary, take action on two core areas: 

  • Their strategic decisions
  • Their content execution

Strategic Decisions

Think of this as the part of the section subheading that says “understand past content efforts.” Here, you’re doing more of gathering context than actually tweaking, changing or making decisions. It would differ from one company to another but two documents are important for this step:

  • The content strategy 
  • The brand guidelines 

The content strategy should give you a bird’s eye view of what types/formats of content the company thought to invest in, what goals they intended achieving with those pieces of content and the rationale behind everything. With all this information, ideas on what to do better can begin crystallizing in your mind. 

The brand guidelines, on the other hand, are meant to help you align your decisions and execution tactics with the brand’s existing tone and messaging, assuming that those don’t need tweaking. 

That said, unless there was a significant problem with the initial foundation, you shouldn’t need to change anything here. Learning about this part is more for you to ground your ideas than to make radical changes. Inconsistency in the company’s messaging, content production, etc. could do more harm than good.

Content Execution

From this point, you’ll likely need to start putting pen to paper properly as opposed to simply gathering context. 

Here, your primary task is to see how they executed their strategy with specific regard to their topics and posting frequency, among others. 

Then, most importantly, you are to audit the content.

The chances of you being new to content audits are slim so, I’ll make this quick. The main purpose of auditing the content is to find out what’s working and deserves to be kept/refined for even greater results and what’s not working and deserves to be deleted or reworked. 

You’ll make the decision on the action required based on different content KPIs like page views, social shares, ranking, and the CTR on your CTAs, among others. By the way, using multiple abbreviations in one sentence will never not be weird. Haha.

Moving on, to conduct an audit, you’ll need an inventory of content. Most marketers use a Google sheet like so:

The screenshot above is a basic one that I created. Feel free to pick it up and make a copy for yourself. I included notes in some of the fields – the ones with arrows on their top right.

I would definitely advise tweaking this to suit your needs. One field I really think should be included is “relevance.” That is, relevance of each piece of content to the direction you’re taking the content strategy after learning all you need to know about the customers.

This step can take several days or weeks but it’s worth it.

Step Three: Know Your Customers

This is, by far, the most important part of the strategy creation process. It can be done in either one or, in a combination, of three ways.

  • Getting to know your customers through one-on-one interviews and conversations
  • Speaking with sales reps and relevant stakeholders who often interface with the customers directly
  • Observing ideal customers’ actions, choices, and behavioral patterns through analytics tools, social media, etc.

The first is the best and most advisable method. The second should ideally be paired with the first but can manage to stand on its own if there are no existing alternatives. I find that the third is the least preferable and should always go alongside one or both of the first two methods.

One-on-One Conversations with Customers through Interviews

Before you begin this process, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Go in with a goal. Some customers will tell you too little. Some will tell you too much. Let your goal guide you into getting the answers you truly need. 
  • Ask open-ended questions that trigger stories, not just single-word responses. If you have training in communication/journalism, this should already be pretty obvious to you. Otherwise, make a mental note of it.
  • Don’t go searching for confirmations to answers you already built in your mind. Be prepared for outliers and twists. What you think is a problem worth strategizing around might be entirely inconsequential to your customers. While your expert opinion matters, theirs takes the cake here.
  • Finally, and this should be pretty obvious, speak to the right people. Not that one B2C guy who has some extra time on his hands to answer your B2B product questions. Not the marketing lady who just has a few opinions on how to “build your brand.” Your ideal customer.

That said, the following are the things you want to learn from your customer research:

Information About Themselves and their Demographics: These are the basics – age, education, name, whether or not they’re decision makers, job title, preferred content types, etc. The answers to this section will inform such decisions as the tone you adopt, how frequently you create content, the types of content you create, etc. 

To illustrate, if your customers are 40+ c-level marketers or SDRs in enterprise companies, it would be fairly reasonable to make a few educated guesses about them like so:

  • They have to oversee the functions of multiple people and processes. As such, they’re incredibly busy and constantly pushing your content in their emails might be more annoying than helpful.
  • They’ve spent several years doing the job. Surface level content would NOT impress them.
  • They’re not your average Gen Zs or Millennials. A business tone would be more appropriate if you hope to appeal to them.

Realistically speaking, you can get all these from a survey before organizing a proper interview. Saves everyone a lot of time.

Information About their Preferred Channels of Content Consumption: Alongside that, you also want to know their content consumption patterns. Are they likely to click on an article to read just because it popped up on their feed or are they more likely to go out in search of content by themselves? Would they appreciate reading in-depth guides or would they rather have it divided into multiple parts? These will inform your content structure and, most importantly, your content distribution.

Information About their Goals and Aspirations: This is self-explanatory. It helps you picture your customers’ expectations of your product and your content. This would be key in creating or adjusting your messaging.

Information About their Challenges and Frustrations: Specifically, you want to know the challenges they went through that made them choose your product, the challenges they face while doing their job, and troubles they have using your product. All these can be addressed and used to create excellent content.

To truly get your customers to tell you about their challenges, Greg Secrist, Co-founder and CEO at BKA Content recommends asking the following questions:

  • What was going on in your business that caused you to search for a solution?
  • Why did you feel our service or product was the best for you?
  • What can you do now or do better than you could before?
  • What other solutions did you try and what didn’t you like about them?
  • What almost kept you from buying from us?

What I love the most about all these questions? They’re all designed to draw out real challenges that can be addressed with content. Not one of them is a blatant “what are the challenges you have with xxx.”

Conversations with Sales Reps and Stakeholders Interfacing with the Customer

After spending several weeks, months, or years attending to customers and product demo requests, these people have the most information you could possibly need about your ideal customers. As such, you should be speaking with them to find out the following:

  • Channels through which customers tend to find and reach out to them the most. This tells you precisely where your content reaches its consumers the most. You can use this information for amplification and distribution.
  • Primary problems the customers face that cause them to seek out your company’s services/products.
  • Customer expectations of your product/service.
  • Reasons the customers left their previous solution, if any.
  • Primary enquiries that the sales team/customer support team tends to get repeatedly. This could help with building a library of useful content to facilitate product education.

Alternatively, you could simply sit in on as many sales calls as you can and pick out relevant information for yourself. As a general rule of thumb, according to Jimmy Daly, 

“If a topic comes up unprompted in three sales calls, it deserves a blog post.” 


Step Four: Study the Competition

First off, whatever you do, DON’T simply copy your competitors and call it a day. That said, you should try to gain the following pieces of information in your analysis.

  • Which channels they use the most and which ones they aren’t entirely active on. This information could help you figure out where the company has to be to get a share of the market and which areas are oversaturated and require more than organic efforts. Somewhat like the whole blue ocean vs red ocean shenanigans. 
  • What type of content they post on their blog and social channels and which ones seem to be the highest performing pieces. 
  • How often they post on their blog and social media as well as what their content distribution looks like.
  • Which channels seem to be offering them the most ROI – where they have the most followers and engagements

Summarily, the point of this section is to determine a few things: where to go with your content, how to do content better than them, and what to avoid expending finances or efforts on. Most importantly, it puts you in the position to compete properly without getting left behind.

Superside vs. Penji: A Brief Case Study 

Much earlier in the article, while discussing brands that balance writing for their customers and their audience, we highlighted an article by Superside. In that piece about the best design services, Superside recommended itself as the first (obviously) and Penji, a direct competitor, as the second.

According to Google’s timestamp, Superside’s article was published on the 13th of May, 2022. 

This is nearly a year after Penji published theirs – 20th of May, 2021.

In essence, Penji started in 2021 by differentiating themselves from the competition with a comparison piece. Superside returned the favor in 2022 but made it a little less direct and covered a broader spectrum of competitors by including 8 other brands apart from Penji.

Now (as at the time of writing this article – August, 2022) Penji is running an ad promoting their initial comparison page with “Superside” as the trigger keyword.

As a logical thinker with formal and academic training in communication/journalism, I’m willing to admit that all these occurrences might be purely coincidental. But, as a marketer who understands how companies work, I also recognize that this might not be just a coincidence. Instead, it could be an excellent demonstration of an awareness of your competitors and proactive (content) marketing strategies to remain afloat despite their dominance.

This type of proactivity has helped Penji remain relevant in the design industry and as Superside’s competitor. With regards to numbers alone, Penji has been able to get over 150k website visitors every month for at least three months with a noticeable peak in July.

I wouldn’t advise you to focus excessively on what your competitors are doing as opposed to creating your own content. But, I would advise that you, at least, keep an eye out. The last thing you want is to become the next Nokia or Yahoo.

Step Five: Outline Your Customer-Focused Strategy

This is it. This is where all the research and context gathering comes together. 

After speaking with the company, you should understand precisely what you’re looking to achieve with your content. Conversations with the customers should give you all the information you need, from the best channels for content distribution to the right formats for content production. Your competitive analysis should show you which parts of the market are oversaturated and need to be avoided. Your content audit should indicate exactly where to avoid expending efforts seeing as they’ve failed before and would likely fail again.

All this knowledge should translate into the strategy you’ll adopt to create content and reach your customers effectively to achieve your goals. 

Here are a few ideas that I decide on a case-by-case basis to adopt in my content marketing strategies:

  • Bottom-of-the-funnel thought leadership content
  • Topic clusters for building authority and providing valuable information
  • Pillar pages and posts to establish authority
  • Resource sections for customer education
  • Case study sections for social proof and bottom-of-the funnel conversion
  • Comparison pages for competitor differentiation

In the process of building out your strategy, remember that your company isn’t just a content publication platform. While multiple articles in a day or week might seem like a great way to remain in your customers’ face, they’re not very practical if you have a small marketing team. Plus, your content could end up becoming watery when you pay more attention to frequency than quality. A good rule of thumb is one great post per week.

Apart from that, remember that execution and distribution are just as important as creating the strategy itself. This brings us to the next section. Don’t worry, we’re wrapping up soon.

Creating a Workflow for Executing Your Customer-Focused Content Strategy

If, like most brands, much of your content marketing strategy involves written content, you’ll find the list of activities below useful. It’s pulled directly from my Notion workspace and is more or less my process:

1.  Get or validate a content idea. To save yourself the trouble, create a bank of ideas right from your content strategy phase. Then, scrutinize them by by asking the following questions:

  • Is it new? If not, is there a unique angle to it?
  • Does it help me achieve my content marketing objectives? 
  • Can it be tied back to what I do? If so, how?
  • When written, would it actually offer any real value?
  • Is it in line with my customer-focused direction?

If your answers to all these – and the follow up questions in your head that you shouldn’t ignore – are satisfactory, you can keep it going.

2. Create an outline via the following steps:

  • Do a personal brainstorm and jot down your ideas in the first copy of the outline.
  • Google the keyword and read the first ten articles for existing opinions on the content and to learn what unique angle to take.
  • Take what ideas you can from there and create the final version of the outline from research.
  • In the outline, add a note for a unique angle in as many places as possible. This would be points of expert contribution, data analysis, inclusion of service mentions, social proof, etc.

In essence, build out the basic structure of what your article will look like as intricately as possible. Here’s a snippet of the outline for this article:

Notice how detailed it is, including the note on where to find a design sketch. That level of detail is incredibly important to me. Also notice how the outline is slightly different from the final article. That’s not a bad thing. Your outline is mostly a guide. Don’t sweat it too much before getting started on your piece.

3. Write the first draft based on the outline. In the process, ensure that you do (most of) the following:

  • Write a strong introduction. Wouldn’t advise copying the fake story tactic, though.
  • Infuse keywords consciously but organically if SEO is a key part of your distribution.
  • Include relevant statistics. I like to make sure that mine dates back no further than two years ago but I’ll admit that it’s not always possible.
  • Highlight expert insights preferably acquired directly from interviews.
  • Write about your unique experience. Nobody wants regurgitated content.
  • Wherever relevant, include social proof. That is, screenshots of people commending your work, results achieved with the work, etc. This is particularly important in BoFu content.
  • Include a call to action of some sort.
  • Convert features to benefits.

Again, this is pulled directly out of my Notion workspace. Specifically, I took it out of the page where I outlined my content marketing framework. 

4. Ignore the first draft for another 12 – 24 hours. This depends entirely on your deadline, of course. But unless you have a dedicated editor, it’s important to take a step back so you can come back to the piece with fresh eyes.

5. Edit it for grammar, logic, flow, and value. Surface-level editing, essentially.

6. Repurpose and store assets where necessary. I like to do about ten per piece, depending on the length of the article. Automata is an AI-powered tool that can help out here. 

7. Do a second round of editing. Here, you’re editing for the relevance to your customers, strategic goal alignment, structural and factual accuracy, etc.

8. Review the article again and publish. 

9. Distribute content. Use only relevant channels, please. You really don’t need to be everywhere. I did an analysis of this once while writing about LinkedIn as a distribution channel.

10. Update every six months. Adapt the refreshment duration for your team size and capacity.

Content Distribution Framework

Content distribution is such an overwhelmingly large field on its own. I have done it before and writing about it here would essentially turn this article into an even longer book. So, until we can cover that topic in a post of its own, here are three basic steps you can take with content distribution for your blogs and articles:

  • Repurpose your content into as many assets as you can for your social channels.
  • Repurpose for non-social channels – video, podcast, etc.
  • Reach out to experts you quoted and ask if they’d like to share your article with their audience. Might work, might not. Only way to know is to try.

Bonus Tip: On the off chance that the content distribution topic doesn’t get its time in the sun here, remember that a core part of creating a content distribution framework is starting with the end in mind. For example, while writing articles, note/highlight parts that could be used as quotes on Instagram or as threads on Twitter. Your creativity is your only limit here.

Final Thoughts: Measuring Impact and Adjusting Along the Way

After all is said and done, it’s important to remember that marketing is a long, windy process for most brands. So, even if you have the best ideas or the best strategies, it’s still important to measure your impact with your customers. Are people fulfilling your CTAs? What’s going on with your engagements? Where are you getting found the most? Most importantly, are you achieving the goals you set? Pay attention to all these. Heck, organize FGDs and take surveys with your customers to find out the answers to these questions every three to six months. It’s what I’d do. Once you find something that’s not working, proceed to take it out or refine it as needed. Arrivederci!

Oluwasegun Oyebode

Founder & Chief Content Strategist at Beagital

Oluwasegun Oyebode (Segun) is a content marketer for SaaS companies and B2B digital service providers with a passion for using customer-focused content strategies to drive growth for businesses. In his spare time, you'll find him button-mashing his way through the boss levels of any given video game, planting his face in the nearest Stephen King novel, debating with his friends about Batman's superhero supremacy, etc.

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I help B2B companies offering digital services and SaaS brands to create and execute customer-focused content strategies that drive growth. 


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