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How to Make Content Marketing Relevant
In A Buyer On Top World - Part 2

By: Robert Hennessey

How to Make Content Marketing Relevant <br> In A Buyer On Top World - Part 2

The Process for Making Content Marketing Relevant in the New B2B Market Reality

The process for making content marketing relevant in Part I of "How to Market in a Buyer on Top World," we focused on the overwhelming statistics that support the changes that the Internet has had in impacting the conversion to where Buyers, not Sellers are in control in B2B sales. We also pointed out the growing concern by all Internet users to personal privacy issues and annoying and deceptive Internet advertising. Finally, we discussed the impact on the new nonlinear buy cycle is having on confusing and frustrating marketers.

Despite the change in the Buyer v. Seller balance of power, one thing has not changed your marketing goals. Bottom line the goals of marketing in most businesses remain:

  • Improve marketing efficiency 
  • Quantify the effectiveness of marketing 
  • Reduce the cost of customer acquisition 
  • Increase the return on marketing spend

Or the goal simply stated as increase marketing performance to achieve ongoing competitive market advantage.

Before we begin, we should define our goal of obtaining demand generation so as not to confuse anyone. Demand generation is not lead generation. Previously used interchangeably, now these terms stand for very different marketing approaches.

Demand generation has as its purpose generating qualified sales prospects. Lead generation has come to be associated with a term describing instant gratification responses with short-term results from landing page submission forms, e-mail blasts, and telesales.

The facts are clear in complex B2B sales demand generation is about sustaining buyer engagement over long periods. This is in stark contrast to the instant gratification of lead generation from a single form or phone call.

Increasing marketing performance to achieve an ongoing competitive market advantage will take more than reliance on marketing automation technology and digital media as instant solutions. Balancing the application of new technology and digital media and tactically applying their use in concert with a return to basic principles of solid, effective demand generation that have proven successful in offline B2B markets is the real trick.

Now we can turn to discuss the new building block principles necessary to achieve effective B2B demand engagement. By incorporating simplified common sense, principles of effective demand generation like:

Relevant Content Marketing 4 Steps to Success

"Relevant Content Marketing Four Steps to Success"  

B2B Demand Generation Marketing Two Prerequisites

One important point, before we delve into the specifics of these principles of demand generation is the seemingly lost perspective of B2B markets in the digital age. As powerful and game-changing as the Internet is we can often lose sight of some basic common sense marketing. Many overlook these marketing fundamentals make sure you do not.

  1. First, the Internet is a mass-market distribution communications tool. It allows marketers to reach mass audiences of tens to hundreds of millions and billions of people. The question that needs addressing is how we as B2B marketers utilize a mass-market tool when our target audiences are for most of us in the thousands and tens of thousands. The caution here is about cost. At what cost does it make sense to utilize Internet marketing automation to reach relatively small B2B audiences?

  2. Second and related to the cost-benefit point above, is at any point in time you need to know what the market potential is for your B2B goods or services? Early in my career, I worked for a B2C company where are the potential universe of customers was 100 million.

However, we knew that the replacement cycle for our product was on average every seven years. This meant that the total universe of customers was 100 million, but the real in-the-market potential for our products was 14.3 million customers in any given year.

Further, we knew that the consumer purchase cycle was between 12 to 18 months from the time they began to think about purchasing our product to purchasing the product. This additionally reduced the available market for our products by approximately one-third or an available market of 9.6 million customers.

Of this number, we then applied the dominant competitor's market share which was 50%. This meant that our available market and that of all other competitors was half of the 9,572 million customers or 4,786 million or only 4% to 5% of the total market in a given year. As a rule of thumb, we would say of the total market universe our annual market potential in any given year allowing for market share gain and economic cycles would be 4% to 7% of the total market potential.

The takeaway here is the cost of reaching your market, knowing the actual size of your potential market should influence your marketing strategy dramatically, and your decisions on marketing spend. Once you define the size of your B2B market, you can begin to develop a profile of your best customers.

Identify Your Best Sales Prospects

Amazing as it may seem a lot of businesspeople fail to identify their B2B customers properly. There has been a lot written and talked about buyer personas as the best way to identify your best sales prospects. We think there is a better way for B2B marketers to classify customers.

  1. Rank your existing customers by both most and least according to the following criteria.
  • Profit margin dollars 
  • Sales revenue 
  • Years as a customer

2.  Create a profile not a persona of your existing best customers based on shared pain point 
     attributes as follows:

List what problems each of these customers had at the time they became customers and 
   what additional types of problems you have helped them overcome

o Segment your existing customers by vertical market, industry type, and size

o List the products or services that you offered them and how these products or services 
   helped solve their problem

o What were their concerns & what questions did they have about your product or services

o List the factors they articulated regarding the trust you built that helped motivate them to 
   buy from you

o If you don't have all these answers call your customers and get them

3. Merge, your lists of internal data with the customer profiles, to obtain a master profile of the
    best to worst customer profile types.

The goal is to develop profiles of your existing customers that you can use as templates to identify the best industries and market segments that are closest to your best-performing customers. You can also develop a scoring system to rank and prioritize your customer profiles. This will create a hierarchy of optimal customer profiles that will become strong indicators of like customers concerning customer value and performance.

Ultimately, this profiling exercise is critical and forms the foundation for messaging, engaging, and converting more prospective customers like your existing best customers. This is a far superior way to rank and score customer potential than just what content they downloaded last.

Your internal templates of your existing best customers and the traditional qualification and lead scoring using B.A.N.T. are more than sufficient to identify the sales prospects that your company needs to pursue to achieve your marketing goals.

Now let us examine the benefits of developing client-centric messaging, relevant, and segmented that identifies client pain points that are critical in customer engagement.

Identify the Pain & Challenges of Your Prospects

  • Begin by Organizing & Prioritize Buyer Pain Points to Drive Engagement

Successful customer engagement begins with creating relevant and effective content based on understanding the pain and challenges of your customers in three key aspects.

  • What is the pain for a business Buyer?

Many times the buyer does not understand the real pain they need to resolve. Helping Buyers understand their pain is the job of Demand marketing. The easiest pain to identify is the most important and immediate to an organization. However, seemingly low importance pain points can rise quickly up the priority ladder if you can provide solutions through your client-centric messages.

The job of the Demand marketer is to help potential customers understand the scope and consequences of their pain. To do this:

  • Engage your prospects with content that focuses on their urgent pain problems by asking the right questions and answering them.

  • Assist them to gain a deeper insight into the cause of the problem and the magnitude of the implications by not addressing the problem thereby creating the urgency to resolve the problem.
  • Employ a non-self-serving communications style to demonstrate your thought leadership and you will build confidence and trust that leads to the engagement you seek. 

Breaking Down Pain Points

  • Start by knowing your audience.
  • Segment pain points by customer function.
  • Develop client-centric content that addresses different Buyer pain profiles from the C-suite strategic issues to the VP operational levels, to the managerial level where the most immediate tactical challenges reside.
  • Associate pain points to specific types of Buyer profiles; the most critical aspect is identifying the function they perform in the buying process. This is not always easy to do but the more you can define and associate the pain with the buyers' function the more effective the engagement outcome.

The takeaway is simple to organize and prioritize all aspects of your Demand marketing around pain points.

Develop Client-Centric Messaging

Before proceeding with message development, segment your potential customer profiles by the markets you serve and by their pain points and business challenges. This is paramount because now we need to integrate client profiles, pain points with your client-centric messages.

Developing client-centric messaging is the lynchpin in producing content that will produce Buyer engagement. Why, because it is the only content your customers care about. Your potential clients do not care when your message is about your company; your message must be about them and more specifically the pain points and problems they are experiencing. Successful customer engagement begins with creating appropriate content messaging to all market segments.

  • Customer Focused Content = Buyer Engagement

Establish & list pain points for each market segment and the specific story they support.

o Produce content that addresses the pain  of your buyer from their perspective by
   using examples of others that had the same or similar pain issue.

o Detail the pain, questions, and concerns of these similar Buyers in your narrative.

o Assist them to gain a deeper insight into the causes of this type of problem and the
   magnitude of the implications, (cost, time, efficiency, etc.) by not addressing the problem through a third-party
   experience example.

o Discuss various options considered for resolving the problem. Also, explain why the
   solution chosen was the best to solve the problem.

o Employ a non-self-serving communications style to demonstrate your thought leadership 
   and you will build confidence and trust that leads to the engagement you seek.

I think you can glean from this description of customer-focused content the power of a narrative that speaks directly to a Buyer, who is in the same or similar industry or market with the same or similar pain issue how walking them through someone else's approach to resolving the problem would be helpful, memorable and RELEVANT to your prospect. This is customer-focused, relevant content that creates the engagement.

  • 5 Steps to Evaluate Your Content's Relevance

o Are you thinking as your customer thinks? 

o Does your content help prospects solve problems? 

o Does your content narrative discuss the process to solve their pain and give them options? 

o Is your content objective without any sales bias? 

o Is your content compelling enough to illicit contact and engagement with you, if you had this 

If you can answer "yes" to all these questions, your content is good to go. If you answer "no" to any of these questions, start over.

  • Relevant Client-Centric Content Types

Relevant content is identifiable by its ability to provide insights, information, and examples of how others addressed similar business problems. The types of content that help people gain valuable insight to solve problems are the ones in the chart below.

This is the content sought out and searched for by serious business professionals looking to find answers to their specific business problems. Business professionals have many problems and priorities for their business. These range from strategic issues facing C-suite executives to the tactical for middle management. You will need relevant content that addresses pain points from various customer perspectives.

It is important to remember your content must refrain from stating the company's point of view. I cannot stress this enough; it is not about your company. Your content messaging purpose is to assist solely someone who is having a problem, not to promote your company

"B2B sales prospects that believe you are trying to help them not sell them, more likely to contact you."  

  • How Much Content is Necessary

There are people in the content marketing space that are saying or recommending that you need somewhere between 750 to 5,000 pieces of content to reach your buyers based on the number of stages in your buying cycle. We think these are crazy numbers and not practical for most B2B companies to produce or buy.

Using a conservative cost estimate of $150 per content piece to produce the quality content necessary would result in spending between $112,500 and $750,000! Couple this with marketing automation costs to distribute all this content and you need to add another $24,000 to $180,000.

We think this is all unnecessary and way too expensive to justify any reasonable cost of customer acquisition. Besides, we have already discussed that marketing automation is an antithetical process to the Buyer on Top World where Buyers use the Internet in their disruptive nonlinear process of self-discovery in finding Sellers, who can help them.

Further, the use of more landing pages and more forms, and more unwanted emails from marketing automation will not produce buyer engagement. If it did, then why are so many not meeting their revenue goals? According to a recent study by HubSpot, only 23% of marketers are exceeding their revenue goals.

We suggest developing one to three pieces of content; that address pain points related to your best customers where you understand the narrative in detail. This can be a new story or repurposing existing content you have into client-centric content.

Beginning the process of producing client-centric content will help develop the discipline required to spawn additional content assets naturally. The ability to apply versioning in content development will make it easy to produce content that speaks to multiple customer functions in your target audiences.

By doing this, it will significantly grow your relevant customer-focused content without costing you an arm and a leg. Consider obtaining some help and assistance from a client-centric marketer to get this off the ground quickly.

  • Free Content No Strings Attached

We strongly recommend that you not place your content behind a landing page and form. The idea that serious B2B professionals are willing to trade their contact information anymore for the next irrelevant piece of content sent to their overstuffed inbox is not rationale today.

We suggest you find ways to distribute your content to authority websites besides your own that respect the fact that Buyers do not want to deal with registration, annoying ads, or irrelevant content.

Finally, once you have successfully engaged a prospect using this method you need to engage with this new prospect a little differently in this new Buyer on Top World.

  • How to Talk to Buyers in a Buyer on Top World

Once a potential client is seeking your help do not jump into persuasion mode, this is not the time to start selling.

The first thing you want to do is be sure you know the individual's role in the buying
    process this where having a basic B.A.N.T. about this individual buyer is especially helpful. 

Be sure you just answer their questions and remember their questions are not likely to
   follow any linear checklist. More likely, they will begin with questions about their pain and 
   challenges to see if you "get them." This is crucial because if you are not ready to respond
   to these questions, you are not likely to receive any more questions for building

 Hopefully, the content that your potential buyer is responding to has laid a firm
   foundation for your company's understanding of the pain points and challenges this
   customer is looking to resolve. If not then you will need to double back and provide
   more examples of client-centric content demonstrating your appreciation of their pain.

o    The key here is to keep asking more questions of the prospective buyer to demonstrate
    your sincerity in letting the engagement unfold in continuing dialogue and most
    importantly to confirm that your Buyer understands the scope and depth of the pain
    and ramifications of not addressing these issues from both a company and personal

  Finally, the goal is to be sure your content and messages are clear to the different types
    of decision-makers and influencers that you will encounter from the CEO to the functional 
    manager. Matching the types of pain and challenges by function and relating them to the 
    shared pain aspects of the Buyer's team will allow you to discover the most urgent pain
    that requires action.

Now we can distill the purpose of an effective client-centric content asset as to its ability to engage, advance, and transform prospects into customers.

  • To connect with new customers based on how you solved the pain of your best, existing clients

  • Demonstrate your understanding that Buyers are in Charge of client-centric content produced to engage with them on their terms.

  • To build initial client rapport to build trust & confidence to advance a monolog into a dialogue.

  • To encourage clients to further engagement by creating  comfort and motivating buyers to engage by asking more questions

  • To realize active engagement as a partnership in problem-solving not selling

  • To stimulate content sharing among colleagues and peers

Correctly done, Buyers self-qualify themselves and ask you to help them, and no "selling" is required!

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