An issue tree is a problem-solving tool used by management consultants at McKinsey, Bain, and BCG to explore new industries and business areas, and tackle the toughest challenges faced by their clients. The consultants list the main issues they find, guess the problems that might lie beneath those issues, and then analyze them to prove whether their hypothesis is correct.
Let's see how can you use the issue tree to structure and solve problems in your content strategy.
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Say, the main problem you want to solve is that you aren't getting any leads from your content. Let's use the issue tree to structure this problem to make it easier to solve.
If you aren't getting any leads from content marketing, this might be because:
If aren't targeting the right market, you don't understand your audience. Probably, you haven't synced your strategy with the sales department and haven't identified any buyer personas or target customer segments.
If your content doesn't reach your audience, there can be a few reasons:
If your content doesn't convert, you might have a poor website with difficult navigation, unreadable content, and an outdated look. Or you haven't mapped out a customer journey so you're not doing anything to help your site visitors move from one stage of the funnel to the next one. Or maybe you don't communicate your value proposition well enough. Your content might be too salesy or on the contrary, too general, with no direct connection to the product you're selling.
If your offer isn't compelling enough, it might be time to reevaluate your priorities. Instead of focusing on what could be wrong with your content, spend some time thinking about whether or not the product you want to sell is good enough. Could the price be too high? Is there something about the product that isn't appealing? See if there are any changes you can make to improve the quality of your product.
Finally, if you haven't been at it long enough, and haven't been consistent, you might not be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts. The only way to get results from content marketing is to create high-quality content in a consistent manner and have a little patience.
After we have identified these problems, we can move on to analyzing possible solutions.
You should talk to your sales team, research your audience and create buyer personas to understand what content can resonate with them.
To reach your target audience, you need to invest in SEO and build a content distribution strategy, which might require hiring a community engagement specialist, a social media expert, a PR person, or all of the above to be able to run content distribution activities at your company.
To make your content convert, you need to hire a good copywriter and redesign your website so it's attractive and optimized for conversion.
You should also build a marketing funnel and map your existing content to the stages of the buying process, by audience segment and buyer persona. You'll want to ensure that you have coverage of the full funnel—and that you have a measurable goal for each piece of content.
Start by defining what you want your company to be known for (its marketing perceptions) and then communicate those perceptions through content. Make sure you focus on writing content that solves your audiences’ problems – this is the content that will drive results.
Look at the issue tree we've just created!
The great thing about the issue tree is that it helps you analyze problems in a visual and systematic way so that you can clearly see where the shortcomings are and address them.
Try doing the issue tree exercise to solve other problems in content marketing, such as
Which of these problems are the most pressing ones for you? Let me know in the comments to my YouTube video.
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