Jamie is among my LinkedIn network of B2B executives who strongly advocates the power of innovation. He has often sent me a comment or a message via LinkedIn about his thoughts and experiences in the world of B2B lead generation. Last week, his question was why I did not list “innovation” in my post about how to simplify B2B content marketing. So I replied that I had attempted to list very tangible, practical steps while innovation should be a continuous process that is simply incumbent upon marketers. Plus, in my experience, most people tend to confuse “innovation” with “complexity” and the point of my writing was to encourage “simplification”.
Not one to give up, Jamie sent me this Infographic from the CMO Council with his opinion that innovative content is the only kind that is marketable and that can influence buyer behaviour. I don’t disagree at all. Here is the Infographic:
- Mentions new approaches to problems
- Introduces fresh thought leadership on issues
- Validates the value of products and solutions
- Highlights companies who understand customer issues
This is clear indication that “freshness” is important; it is what generates “value” and it comes from a deep “understanding” of your customers and their issues.
So I thought about this—despite so much being written and said and discussed about content marketing, why is it that there is still so much of “blatantly promotional”, “overly technical”, “non-substantive” and (to add to buyers’ angst) gated content? Most companies do not have the resources, skills and the time to do this the right way.
I am also inclined to believe that there is almost a fear of innovation in the vast majority of B2B organizations that are actively using content marketing for lead generation. And this fear of innovation holds a fear of failure, a fear of risk taking, even a fear of losing your job for being a radical game-changer!
Because they do not know their customers and prospects well enough to anticipate their reactions accurately, marketers are scared to put out fresh perspectives and thought leadership pieces. Why take the risk when you can play safe, right? Continue to do what everyone else is doing and then pray that some of that content will stick. More like stick to the bottom of the trash can! How can you generate quality leads, let alone nurture them and convert them into customers when you can’t be bold enough to carry the torch? As marketers we need to start challenging our assumptions and open our minds to new perspectives. That’s when we will get to that productive point where we ask the right questions and give the right answers. If not, you’ll just be doing what everyone else is doing—as the saying goes—you can’t stick feathers up your butt and pretend you’re a chicken. It doesn’t work!
4 Other Things You Need to Facilitate B2B Conversion
- Know this: It’s not about YOU at all—Forget about all those brand positioning documents you banged out in the boardroom. None of that is important unless you segment your customers, identify their pain points and offer them the solutions they are seeking. That’s when they start opening up to you, or rewarding you with what we call “engagement”.
- Address the gaps in your content—Buyers go through many stages of the buying cycle and your content must be tailored to meet their specific quest and need. It’s the old principle of right time, right place—if a lead is in the preliminary research and information seeking phase you would completely turn them away by offering them a “buy now and get a one-year maintenance contract for free”. This is not the right time. It is though, the right time to offer a free download for a whitepaper with interesting industry facts, stats, trends and research material. And you don’t have to leave it at that. Build engagement further by asking what more they would like to see in a subsequent paper or what they felt was missing in the first one. That’s how you can effectively close the gaps in the conversion cycle.
- “Peer pressure” boosts credibility—Endorsements by their peers in the industry are far more effective than you saying great things about your product to buyers. Content pieces that showcase case studies, demonstrate success stories and carry customer testimonials are usually a hit because they are high on the credibility scale. The more credible you are as a seller, the greater are your chances of conversion.
- Presentation is critical—Dress like a car salesman and you’re likely to get more tire-kickers. A professional look to your content is important. Take some time to think through the presentation and overall look and feel of your content. It doesn’t matter if it is an email or a LinkedIn InMail, a blog post or a case study review on your website; it has to appeal to the type of buyer you want to convert. The technical buyer may not pay much attention to industry benchmark studies or expert commentary but the C-Suite buyer will value these. You may have to create a nuts-and-bolts, hard-hitting demo presentation to get the point across to that technical buyer. So give some thought to who your audience is for every piece of content you generate. You can’t wash all content with the same coat of paint—that does not make for good conversion strategy.
Has your B2B company engaged in some truly innovative content marketing? How did this impact your conversion rates? Need more ideas on how to accelerate demand generation for your market? Download a free copy of The ALEA Demand Generation Playbook to further help your efforts.