By Rex Hammock

In any marketplace, there are two phases in the relationship between a buyer and a seller: The “Why” phase and the “How” phase. During these two phases, the role of marketing with content is very different.

During the Why phase, the buyer is still a pre-transaction customer seeking answers to questions that start with Why: Why do I need this product or service? Why is this solution better for me than that one? Why is now the time to invest in this service, not later? Why should I believe this expert and not that one?

Answer these questions in a way that lines up with the inner algorithms of the customers, and they will purchase your product. Then you get to move on to the How phase of marketing with content.

During this phase, the buyer has become a post-transaction owner seeking answers to questions that start with How: How does this thing work? How do I train employees to use it? How do I get the most value possible out of it? How do I reach the new bliss I was promised when I purchased it?

The types of content before and after a sale look similar: They are words, design, books, magazines, video, online media, email, etc. But there is a big difference in the role of content during the Why and How phases.

To see these two roles at work, take a look at the different ways Google marketers used the same content platforms and tools in videos posted on two different YouTube channels.

Google’s YouTube Channel:
The Why Phase

Google’s YouTube Channel is organized by products and filled with short aspirational case studies providing prospective users with all the reasons Google solutions are better than alternatives. Despite being promotional, they avoid hype.

Note how Google focuses on people using the products and services more than on the products themselves, demonstrating how Google helped someone through a challenge.

Google Help’s YouTube Channel:
The How Phase

Google Help videos are targeted to customers who have become users of a Google service. Note how the same content tool (video) is now a relationship-building tool, reminding customers of the reasons they chose a Google product instead of a competitor’s. Nearly every video begins with “How.”

Takeaway: Content is a word that can denote a broad range of human expressions. It is also a word that can describe marketing tools available at all points in the relationship between buyers and sellers. Don’t just view one type of content as a universally applicable tactic. Instead, view various forms of content as incremental parts of a larger overarching strategy.


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