Customers have moved on from buying the way they did 10 years ago. How do you adjust your sales and marketing efforts to match the changes in buying behavior? Enter B2B content marketing.
This is the 4th in my series of blog posts inspired by Ann Handley and C. C. Chapman’s book: Content Rules. Lots of B2B companies struggle with the idea of using the internet and social media to market their products. “My customers don’t buy like that.” Well, consider this:
- 93% of business buyers believe all companies should have a social media presence
- 85% of business buyers believe companies shouldn’t just present information via social media – they should also interact and engage with them
source: Buzz Marketing Survey
Somebody moved your customer. Traditional sales and marketing is ineffective because customers are no longer looking to sales to inform them of their choices. They are beginning their buying journey online way before they ever begin talking to a representative. Online research has essentially replaced several of the early stages of the traditional sales process, and many companies are poorly equipped to leverage that change.
Here’s some tips on how to begin building great B2B content marketing for your business:
Know the titles of your audience, and how they are influenced within their industry
All CEO’s are not created equal. Each industry and size of business carries with it very different venues where the CEO hangs out and get’s their info. Know these target roles, where they hang out, who influences their thinking. Use the rich tools online and social media to create personas for all the key people who make up the decision making team and get to know them where they hang out online.
Know the issues and concerns of your target audience
In order for your content to be relevant, it must discuss the issues and address the concerns of your audience. The internet provides many great ways to mine for those relevant topics of concern. Here’s some tips on finding those people and listening to what they are talking about online: Google Tips: How to Find People on the Internet
Get into the conversation
Chances are good that your target audience is already online talking about their issues and concerns. LinkedIn for example had an estimated 1,194,668 groups as of February 2012. People are talking about everything from auto repair to Zumba classes. They are asking opinions, getting recommendations, looking for answers, trying before they buy. B2B content needs to be created in such a way that it answers their questions and addresses their concerns. Companies can take those conversations and turn them into focused discussions that map to the buying stages they used to handle face-to-face.
Stay in the conversation
Many customer buying cycles can go on for months or even years. B2B content marketing makes sure your company stays top of mind by keeping you in the conversation with customers while they work through the various internal struggles of their decision making processes. Staying in the conversation also provides a strong content feedback loop for you to sharpen your understanding of customer needs, which is a great way to collect discussion topics for your content and it allows you to deepen relationships with existing customers as well.
One size does not fit all
So you have a web site. Nice. Is it the same web site you use for all your customers? When was the last time you were excited to open a form letter addressed to “Dear Occupant?” Hubspot recognized that they could compete for the long tail of smaller markets by custom tailoring thousands of microsites (very focused web sites) to target various small groups of customers, which of course link back to their main site. Doing this allows them to create a laser-focused inbound marketing strategy for each individual target group while maintaining the powerful theme and structure of their main web site. Coincidentally, this also has an amazing impact on their search engine optimization. Consider how several focused micro-sites may help your organization target specific interest groups and engage them in conversation.
Inform, Entertain, Interest, Interact
There are many ways to attract and interact with B2B customers. Provide them with the answers they are looking for. Make them laugh or surprise them. Tell them something interesting they’ve never heard about. Above all else, interact with your B2B customers. The missing link in many B2B content marketing efforts is that they fail to get into (and stay into) conversations with their customers. Buyers today have turned to research online and yet they want to do business with people, they want an interactive experience on demand, at their pace.
If you haven’t already, you need to read Ann Handley and C. C. Chapman’s book: Content Rules.
What an awesome collection of ideas, which I have only touched on here.
I invite you to read the rest of my posts inspired by this book as well: