If you’ve ever worked in sales, this story will sound familiar. You get an email from a prospect that reads something like this: “I’ve searched through your whole website and watched all the videos but I can’t find the answer to…”
The question that follows is, sure enough, not answered on your website or in any of your sales collateral. To add insult to injury, you’ve been asked this question before—several times. With a sigh, you start digging through old emails to dredge up the answer you previously gave.
Why is it that obscure questions like these are so hard for consumers to find the answers to, yet are so frequently asked? I like to call this phenomena the Marketing Iceberg. It’s based off of a concept in sociology known as the cultural iceberg, which states that for any culture, 90 percent of that culture cannot be seen by the casual observer.
In content marketing, the same can be said: So much of the best content is beneath the surface.
When I first started building the content marketing strategy at PetRelocation, a consumer services company that helps people move with their pets, I was immediately faced with this 9/10ths effect: People wanted answers to questions they were unable (or in some cases, unwilling) to ask. I’d have lengthy conversations with anxious prospects about what type of aircraft the pet would fly in, or where in the plane their pet’s crate would be stored, when really what the pet parent wanted to know was, “Is it safe?”
This was the deep question lurking beneath the pet parent’s emotional iceberg and all of her feelings about moving her pet.
As we began addressing these beneath-the-iceberg emotions, we began to create emotional connections, not just clicks. This strategy had a twofold effect: it helped us rank higher on Google for high-value, long-tail keywords unique to our customers’ needs, and it also helped triple our visit-to-lead conversion rate. By creating conversations that got us beneath the marketing iceberg, we were able to increase conversions.
So how do you find this content beneath the iceberg for your own company? Here are a few places to look.
In Your Sales Team’s Inboxes (or Outboxes)
Chances are your sales team is already creating content that speaks to the unique needs of the decision makers. Ask them to forward you questions they frequently get asked, or the longest email reply they had to construct recently (removing any confidential information, of course).
This content can then easily be repurposed. To help streamline and manage the flow of this content, we worked with Oracle Marketing Cloud to develop a content portal where our sales team (as well as online users) could submit questions related to moving with pets. Not only were we able to build up our Google top-3 ranking for over 365 long-tail keywords, but our Ask the Pet Travel Experts content became three times more likely to convert a visit to a lead than our other blog content.
In Your Human Resource Department
If online marketing has taught us anything it’s that consumers—whether B2C or B2B—want to know who they’re doing business with. Your HR department often holds the key to the culture castle when it comes to unique or less visible parts that make your company unique. Do you have a really robust employee volunteerism program? How about a unique approach to quarterly kickoffs?
At PetRelocation, we realized our core values were compelling in that they tied back to animals (a dog represents our value of Commitment, an owl represents Wisdom, etc.). We started broadcasting these values through a series of “Core Values” posts that highlighted particular employees who upheld our core values, or showcased how our core values influence our interview process.
While a potential prospect may not explicitly realize they care about how we interview or recognize our employees, beneath the surface of the iceberg this type of content builds trust in our company—which is so essential in our space.
In Conversations Where Your Perspective is Missing
This may sound like Public Relations 101, but in your industry, if you’re not a part of the conversation, it’s time to make sure you become a part of it. Sharing an informed and new perspective on a subject, particularly one in which non-experts feel they own the space, can help position your company as the thought leader.
Help lend credibility to your organization by conducting surveys either on your own or through an independent research company such as Forrester Research. This research can be repurposed into opinion editorials, infographics, Pinterest boards, webinars, and more. We seized the opportunity to talk about the hot topic of summertime pet travel by conducting a survey on pet owners’ summer travel plans. In addition to traditional public relations efforts around the survey results, we created catchy, compelling graphics with bite-sized pet travel statistics and pinned them on Pinterest—all linking back to a highly shareable blog post.
In Your Partners’ and Suppliers’ Stories
When you’ve fully pulled back the curtain on your own story, partners and suppliers can help lend additional beneath-the-iceberg content.
In our industry, there was a significant lack of clarity surrounding the various commercial airlines used by pet relocation companies to move pets. We developed the Pet Friendly Airlines Spotlight series to dig into the differences and similarities among the airlines. The best part? We were able to repurpose quite a bit of content (with their permission) from the airline press kits by augmenting it with our industry-specific knowledge, making it a fresh, valuable look beneath the iceberg of pet travel.
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