An Introduction to Early Stage Content

What is Early Stage Content?

Early stage content is just a fancy word for an educational piece that appeals to people at the start of the sales cycle. This is usually content that offers educational value rather than a targeted approach to selling your product. The calls to action in these pieces should be soft, and try to get the reader to opt in to learning more.

If you follow the Hubspot Inbound methodology, the content I’m talking about is designed to attract the attention of customers in the awareness stage. It might seem like you spend more time and effort on these pieces but that’s ok. The point here is to build the top of your funnel. The large part that grabs as many leads as possible.

How Does Early Stage Content Increase Brand Affinity?

One of my favorite places to get interesting insights on digital marketing, Conductor, did the research into how early stage or educational content drives brand affinity and trust in consumers. Some of the interesting takeaways from this research:

  • Immediately after reading a piece of educational content, consumers are over 100% more likely to purchase an item from the brand than those who didn’t.

Perfect real life example: I am obsessed with the Dyson Supersonic Blow Dryer. I believe this one consumer good will fulfill me as a person and offer me the shiny, swingy hair of my dreams. I believe this because I read a long piece about the development and engineering behind the blow dryer. By contrast, my friends who have not read about the Dyson all say the same thing: Why is a blow dryer $300?

  • Brand affinity increases over time. Over a week after reading an early stage, educational content piece, users reported an increase in how much they trust the brand. This is surprising because as marketers we hear so much about the chatter out there, how much we are competing for people’s attention, etc. But apparently, early stage content connects with readers.

What Kind of Early Stage Content Can Your Brand Deliver?

Developing a really great piece of early stage content starts with personas. You have to know your customer to start developing an educational piece that appeals to them. For example, the educational piece that I read on Dyson:

  • Explained how and why the product was developed, and the length of time taken
  • Offered insight into the new shape of the product and how that solves the “heavy arms” issue, a real problem for real world users
  • Broke down the need for the escalated price point

So early stage content, in my experience, does work. It also takes time, planning and resources. Look at these pieces as long term investments in establishing a connection with your future brand ambassadors.

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