Let’s cut to the chase. Scoping out large pieces of content is tough. Even when you know exactly what messages you want to push and the overall purpose of the piece, putting a blueprint together that brings this information to life is complicated. In fact, it’s particularly challenging when dealing with the likes of long-form guides and eBooks. To make the most of these formats, there needs to be a clear infrastructure in place to ensure the underlying corporate messages are communicated without compromising the value of the piece to the reader.
Education, Solution, Selection?
Using the Education, Solution, Selection model as a backbone, these challenges can largely be resolved or at the very least managed effectively. In most cases, this ‘approach’ is used to plot buyer journeys, but the reality is, the underlying principles they tackle are very similar. In the same way a prospect may consume messages sequentially from a social post, to a blog and then onto a guide, they also travel through a long-form piece of content, educating themselves across the various stages. By treating a long-form piece of content as a micro-journey of its own, the right information can be delivered in the right place and the messaging priorities of each page can be determined easily.
So, how does the model work for long-from content? Let’s take a look at the phases and how they can be applied for the reader’s benefit and education.
In the Education Phase, the focus should be on discussing the wider topics of the piece, justifying why the fundamental information is important, and laying the foundation for further learning. Motivation at this stage is critical too. If the reason for learning something isn’t communicated early, it can be hard to maintain engagement – the ‘why’ is everything!
Throughout the Solution Phase, the focus should be on expanding the original ideas laid down while touching upon how they can be implemented. As the reader has bought into the wider concept and acknowledged their need to know, this is where the content should explore the detail, going into greater depth around more specific subjects. In most cases, the Solution Phase is where the greatest value is delivered as the reader is prepped and engaged, so they’re in the best possible position to absorb and acknowledge the most critical information. Often this section is where the most empowering and actionable insights lie.
Finally, in the Selection Phase, the content should be looking to summarize and reiterate the strongest points to ensure the value has been recognised by the reader. Ideally this should be backed up with successful examples of application. It’s easy to talk about theory, but including a case/application study in any long-form content further strengthens the authority of the information and provides context for how it can be used effectively. This is also the time where you can start to promote your own solution – if that’s your strategy. The best long-form content creates the illusion of impartiality to maintain vendor credibility throughout the piece. At this end-stage, after the value has been delivered, the reader is much more likely to be open to the thought of engaging with a vendor or a salesperson. By maintaining this impartiality until the very end, the value of the piece is maintained and can be leveraged to reflect vendor quality and capabilities.
By applying the Education, Solution, Selection model to long-form content, the principles of the buyer journey can be distilled and applied to ensure content offers both prospects and vendors mutual value from start to finish. With a strategic infrastructure around long-form content in place, it becomes much easier to scope out and deliver a large piece quickly and effectively. Keep this in mind the next time you’re building a long-form piece of content.