Social media is playing a bigger role in the B-to-B buying process, but motivating your employees to contribute content for social media can be a challenge.
A great reminder that your employees can be a great source of content for any B2B company. There are very simple ways to get them involved in content marketing that can really improve your marketing efforts. I am always a big fan of letting employees use their own voice in marketing. After all, you hired them to add their own expertise to your company.
On Monday, September 17, 2012, Peyton Manning had just completed one of his worst games as an NFL quarterback. The four-time MVP had thrown three interceptions in the first quarter alone, on the way to a 27-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. It was assumed that Manning’s poor play was attributable […]
Takes a bit before the article gets to the point but I think overall the idea is great. Are sales managers paying attention to who their sales reps are selling to? In my experience it seems like a lot of companies promote a process where there is a focus on quantity of leads rather than quality. They follow a process that says X calls = X appointments = X sales. Probably not the most profitable strategy…
Your professors are not your friends.
This is a great reminder for every student starting the semester. It is really easy for professors to see through all the BS because chances are they’ve seen and heard it all.
More information is not always better. I am reminded of this constantly when I make more expensive purchases (such as when I bought my latest camera). It is interesting to me how complex some stores both online and offline make the purchase decision. Most consumers are not experts, especially for products they purchase very infrequently. Yet, it seems that retailers often want to tell us everything there is to know about the product.
However, this really isn’t the way to help consumers make better decisions. In fact it is a good way to drive customers away. Most people begin with a short list of attributes that are important and they use these attributes to weed out the first set of choices. Then based on secondary attributes they further whittle down their choices until they come to their final choice. It seems to me that in many cases sellers offer too much information up front and try to let the consumer figure it out. This can lead to the customer second guessing whether the attributes that they thought were important actually are. Studies have shown that consumers are likely to use only information presented and in the way it is presented when their experience with the product is low. As doubt in the customer’s mind then increases purchase likelihood begins to fall. I think a really good example of this is how Amazon displays products. If I know what I want to buy I always use Amazon. However, if I am doing comparison shopping on anything other than price I am likely to go somewhere else as the amount of information thrown at you can get kind of ridiculous. The results are then the increased likelihood that I am going to purchase at a different location too.
Since more information is not always better here are some relevant questions to ask yourself when you are presenting product information:
Do I know what attributes my customer thinks are most important?
Do my customers know which attributes should be considered?
Am I presenting that information in a way that can easily be processed by the customer?
Am I providing too little or too much information?
Recently I wrote about “Using Buyer Personas to Develop Content Marketing Strategy” and I discussed the role of decision makers and influencers. In December the IT Service Marketing Association released a great study on “How Buyers Consume Information Survey” and highlighted a third group involved in making purchase decisions within organizations; Evaluators. Evaluators are research focused individuals who are vetting potential partners and putting together the short list of final candidates for decisions makers. This study surveyed 299 professionals with the breakdown being 13% Influencer, 19% Evaluator, and 67% Decision Maker who make IT purchases greater than $500,000.
In my previous article I raised the question of “do you know how your target customers are searching for information?” The ITSMA survey answers some of those questions for IT buyers and points out some very interesting trends. The survey groups buyers into two separate categories based on their behaviors:
Social Buyer: Someone who uses online communities to make purchase decisions
Traditional Buyer: Someone who feels online communities are not as useful to make purchase decisions
The study separated the two groups by the question “How useful are social media channels during the purchase process from 1 – 5” (1 being not at all useful and 5 being very useful). Participants rating from 1 to 3 were grouped as traditional buyers while those noting 4 or 5 were grouped in the Social Buyer Category. I think the traditional category is skewed somewhat as 28% of respondents (the highest total for one rating) gave social media a 3 as far as importance. Even with the smaller sample size I believe the study gives marketers a good idea of how buyers are consuming information.
The first difference between the two types of buyers is that Social Buyers spend 6.5 hours per week consuming content while Traditional Buyers spend only 4.3 hours or 34% less time-consuming content. There was also a significant difference in the way that the two buyer types preferred to receive information:
Social Buyers: Research Reports, Social Media, Email Newsletters, In-Person Seminars/Conferences/ Trade Shows, Print Journals/Magazines
Traditional Buyers: In-Person Seminars/Conferences/Trade Shows, Research Reports, Virtual Conferences/Trade Shows, Webinars, Sales Call/Private Briefing
Just looking at these few factors alone we can see how you may want to start tailoring your inbound and outbound marketing strategies to meet audience interests. In this study there were slightly more traditional buyers than there were social buyers but I think that trend will shift as time goes on. It would be really interesting to see how type of buyer shifts across industries. Looking at the results we see some overlap in content that both types of buyers are using such as In-Person Seminars/Conferences/ Trade Shows as well as Research reports. I would use this information to build my marketing strategy in these two areas and build out to include integration of content that can be distributed across the differing channels. Hopefully this helps you better see how building customer personas can help you develop a targeted content strategy.
Do you understand the buyer personas within your industry? To really understand how to develop your content marketing strategy you need to understand the buyer persona and the sales value chain within the industry you work. In this article I am going to discuss the buyer persona and how it can help you develop better content by understanding this key component of the sales value chain.
Buyer Persona – Buyer personas encapsulate your business’ knowledge and understanding about the types of people marketing and sales speak to in the sales process.
Many people think of buyer personas as simply segmentation but I believe that they are so much more than that. Robert Wright wrote a great post on buyer personas titled “Building Buyer Personas: A Checklist for High-Tech Marketers” on CMO.com where he highlighted four main topics you need to understand about your audience to build a solid buyer persona: Background, Market Dynamics and Challenges, Motivation, and Decision-Making Process.
Background helps you understand the person that you are marketing to. How did they get to where they are? What drives them in their current position? How fast does the company the person works for move within the changing market conditions? I think the old adage that you can’t understand where we’re going without understanding where we’ve been is a great way of understanding the Background element.
Market Dynamics and Challenges is pretty fundamental when doing any type of marketing and especially with content marketing. Understanding what market dynamics are causing your target buyers to make a purchase decision and to what affect it has on the information necessary to make a decision is extremely important.
Motivation is what is driving the decision maker to make a purchase. How will the buyer personally gain from buying your product? Will it make his or her boss happy? Is he or she looking to keep up with competitors in the industry? Are there relationships with internal stakeholders affecting the decision? Understanding motivation behind a buyer’s decision will give you great insight into how active you will need to be in order to motivate the buyer into letting you on the list of potential business partners.
Decision-Making Process is the end to end of the sales value chain in my opinion. Who has the ultimate authority to make a purchase decision? Who are the influencers to making the decision? In most B2B transactions there is usually a team of people who make the final decision. The question to understand is if there is someone who has more weight on the committee than everyone else?
Here is a great resource for “10 Rules for Buyer Persona Development” from Goal Centric if you need more help on developing buyer personas. So how does this help you develop a better content marketing strategy? I like to ask myself the basic five W’s when developing my content: who, what, when, where, and why.
Who: Who am I targeting with my content?
What: What type of content are they consuming?
When: When are they consuming content within my average sales timeline?
Where: Where are they going to get content?
Why: Why are they consuming the types of content that they are?
Understanding the four elements of Buyer Persona will help answer all five W’s but how will it help you develop your marketing content strategy? Now that you have built your buyer persona you should have a clear idea of who will be involved in making the purchase decision from the direct decision maker on down to key influencers. You should also have a clear idea of the type of content that each key player uses to make decisions. The final piece is developing an idea of how involved each decision maker and influencer is in making the final decision. I would weight the amount of content focused on each person in the decision in direct proportion to the final decision. Again it is important to understand if there is someone on the team who has more authority (like a CFO) then a majority of content should be developed and targeted there (say 60%), with 30% focused on other members of the decision team. Although the big focus is on the ultimate decision maker don’t forget to make sure you have content developed for influencers as well! Being seen by everyone along the value chain is important as in many cases information gets passed along through so many different channels.