There has been no shortage of articles highlighting the growing importance of having great content to support your sales and marketing processes at every stage in the buying decision journey. MarketingProfs recently published a study of over 1,000 B2B marketers - and their findings suggest some clues as how today’s best-in-class B2B sales and marketing organisations are able to make their content irresistibly attractive.
- Allocated a higher percentage of their budget to content marketing
- Were more likely to target their content at specific stages in the buying cycle
- Had secured executive buy-in to the importance of content marketing
- Planned to increase content marketing spend faster over the next 12 months
The one disappointing and surprising conclusion from the study was that lead nurturing was the least mentioned target of content development efforts - surely something that must change as marketer recognise how invaluable relevant content is in moving prospects from “thinking about” an issue to deciding to do something about it. I hope that next year’s study reflects this.
Creating Content That Engages
So what conclusions can we draw from the study? To start with, I’m very pleased to see MarketingProfs highlight the importance of targeting content towards specific stages in the buying decision process. This, by the way, mirrors the greatest challenge quoted by the respondents: “producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers”.
So what’s the secret? My observations suggest that best-in-class content marketers establish very clear targets for each piece of content:
- They identify and target organisations that reflect their ideal prospect profiles. They go far beyond traditional demographic segmentation criteria to understand the common structural, behavioural and situational characteristics of their most valuable prospects and customers
- They identify and target the key stakeholders in the customer’s buying decision process, and take pains to understand and anticipate their likely concerns and motivations
- They identify and talk to the key issues, trends and trigger events that are likely to cause these prospects to become dissatisfied with the status quo and to start searching for solutions
- They seek to identify, understand and recognise the key stages that their prospects and stakeholders are likely to go through in their buying decision process and target and tune their content with the objective of helping to persuade the prospect to move forward from their current stage to the next with the vendor
- On top of this, they write in a language that resonates with their audience, and focus on what their audience want to learn about, and not what the vendor wants to tell them about - and they offer the reader a clear next step
Rather than creating bland pieces of collateral, these best-in-class companies are succeeding in crafting relevant, interesting and often provocative content that engages the reader and makes them want to learn more. Can you say the same for all of your current content? And if not, what is your action plan to address this?
A good first place to start might be to review your ideal prospect and stakeholder profiles - using a brief guide that we've recently published that captures a great deal of key learning from best-in-class companies. You can download it here. Let me know how you get along.