22 Mar 5 Signs You Need a Flagship Content Piece
First, What is Flagship Content?
A flagship content piece is a robust, authentic piece of content created by a business to address a question or topic that is critical for customers to make an informed purchase decision. Think of it as an educational piece that also stands as a representative statement of your unique selling proposition – your shtick, if you will. Ask the question, “if we could only tell prospective customers one story to get their attention, what would it be?” The answer is your flagship content piece.
A prime example is Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO. This piece is a valuable and comprehensive how-to for basic Search Engine Optimization implementation. Moz’s product is a software that helps people to do SEO, so writing a guide to SEO makes a lot of sense. When this guide first came out (and they have updated and elaborated on it continuously) SEO was a mysterious, misunderstood practice. That makes it kinda difficult to sell SEO software, so Moz has an interest in educating the world on the practice of SEO. By offering a free, comprehensive guide to SEO, Moz can actually create more potential customers. This is exactly the kind of opportunity served by flagship content.
One More Example
The Tie Bar provides education on how to tie a tie and how to use similar products like tie bars. People know what a tie is, but there are plenty of people who don’t know how to tie them – particularly the infuriating bow-tie, which took me no less than 50 YouTube views to master one Halloween. By offering this free guide, The Tie Bar can draw in relevant traffic and earn the kind of brand loyalty rivaled only by teaching your customers how to ride a bike.
5 Signs You Need a Piece of Flagship Content
Not all businesses or industries need a flagship content piece. Some products are straightforward and don’t need explanation. Zappos wouldn’t write a guide about how covering your feet is advantageous in blister prevention. They’re shoes – there’s already demand and people get it. Zappos can differentiate with lower price tags and superior online sales experience. This isn’t to say Zappos shouldn’t create useful content about shoe sizing or style guides – they should and do – but the questions are more fragmented making the need less for a single comprehensive piece that fits the role of a flagship content piece.
Better candidates for a flagship piece are emerging industries and businesses that need to explain themselves to get the customer on board. For example, a new software company that allows better tracking and management of mobile app usage would need to outline the dangers of app addiction and the benefits their solution provides. That’s the kind of situation when you need a flagship piece. Here are a few more specific but common scenarios where a flagship content piece is warranted.
1. Your sales team is answering the same questions or telling the same story over and over
Members of your sales team may already be telling your flagship content story. If your product is complex or innovative, your customers no doubt have questions about how it works or how it compares to what is already on the market. If your sales team has been somewhat effective, team members have probably already come up with a graceful and compelling way of answering these questions.
Talk to your sales team, ask them specifically if they’ve been fielding the same questions over and over. If one stands out (aside from price; price will always be a question), that could be need for a flagship content piece. Consider crafting the best answer in the form of a long form, designed PDF guide or eBook and advertising it on your home page. That way the common questions are answered and your sales team can skip ahead to better questions like “when can you sign up?”
2. Your industry changes frequently
If your industry changes frequently and there’s a high value on innovation, you need to prove to prospective customers that you’re staying ahead of the curve. This kind of piece might be your “Yearly Industry Guide,” which you update each year with the most notable advancements and make commentary on how they affect your customers and your industry, thus proving your business as capable and forward-thinking.
Electronics, particularly B2B, is a prime example where innovation is key. A flagship content piece that exemplifies your knowledge of the space and a clear view of the future tells prospects they’re dealing with people who know what they’re talking about – a perception that usually commands a higher price and greater customer loyalty.
3. Your product is complicated and requires a lot of consideration to make a purchase decision
Maybe your prospects are hesitant simply because they don’t fully understand how your product or service works. A distilled sales pitch and value proposition with graphic and visual representation as needed can be an effective way to educate your customer at the beginning of their research process. For services that have a lot of moving parts or complex products, you might need a written guide just to show how you do what you do.
Lots of online services turn to something like an explainer video to get the message across. An explainer video could be considered a flagship content piece, or the same purpose could be served with a guide or one-sheet PDF. This flag should fly prominently on the homepage and other web properties since it’s a critical first step in prospect education.
4. Your product or service does something new that people need to be educated on to understand the value
For innovative products a flagship content piece is critical. You need to contextualize your product as compared to the alternatives (or lack of a solution) already in the marketplace. Again, this needs to happen effectively and early in the sales process. Your homepage is great because prospects can educate and pre qualify themselves before they start calling and taking up all of your salespeople’s precious time.
Do you have pitch deck materials or business plan content? This content can be repurposed as a consumer-facing introductory or educational sales piece aka flagship content piece.
5. Your product solves a problem that most customers don’t know they have
Similar to explanation of innovative products, you may have to explain the problem just as extensively as the solution. Fleshing out the problem in your customer’s mind is always a great way to grease the wheels for a sale and necessary for the presentation of your solution to make an impact.
An effective question we use to spurr flagship content ideation is “what is something wrong with your industry that your product or service fixes?” Your core differentiation is usually contained within this answer too. But to differentiate, you may need to first educate your prospects on how the industry works presently, why it’s wrong, and how you come in and make it better. They don’t understand the potential your industry holds and how your product unlocks it. This is where your flagship content piece can come in and make a disruptive claim that homepage visitors can’t help but click, or even exchange an email address to access.
Let Your Flag(ship) Fly
Hope that provides you with some inspiration for your own flagship piece to augment and support your sales crew and turn your website into a better salesperson. For more examples of long form content put to good use, take a look at our Case Study about how a flagship content piece and other educational content helped LIM College start turning common questions into new enrolled students.