By Tonya Vinas
You need to transform your content-marketing strategy from product-focused to buyer-focused, a common challenge. It would be great to have a TRANSFORM NOW button that would automatically update your company’s plans, processes and metrics, but even then, you’d likely fail.
This was one of the messages from SiriusDecisions Chief Research Officer Tony Jaros when he presented the SiriusDecisions’ perspective on B2B transformations at the company’s 2014 Summit in Orlando. Jaros stressed that transformations need to benefit outside groups, such as buyers. This seems obvious, but think about how many transformation initiatives start with a revenue or profit goal. This is putting the outcome before the plan, a sure way to never achieve the outcome.
With content transformation, the plan begins with a question: “What does buyer-focused content look like for us?” Many marketing pros would start by asking their sales teams for input, but isn’t that still an internal focus? Aren’t you just tapping the known universe and not actually gaining knowledge on what needs to be done differently? And how can you be sure personal bias—such as resistance to change—isn’t coloring that input?
Jaros’ suggestion is for Marketing and Sales to start a new buyer-focused conversation so that both groups can come to agreement on content-transformation goals and to base this conversation on facts, not assumptions.
Building on that, we suggest looking for the latest-available research and other guidance to help answer these questions:
What knowledge does your buyer value most today that he/she also lacks? This changes, and sometimes pretty quickly. In addition to researching individual companies (quarterly earnings reports are full of guidance on this), look at what’s happening in the industry at-large, i.e., supply chains, market demand, short-term and long-term investment, etc.
What content formats best match how your buyers consume knowledge at each step of the buying cycle, and where do they go to find that knowledge? There’s lots of research on this, and it’s frequently updated. Two sources are DemandGen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey and CMI’s B2B Content Marketing report with Marketing Profs. Who is involved in your buyer’s buying decisions? It’s not the same for every company, so don’t identify prospects based only on what’s been done in the past. This research might require footwork, phone work and face time, but this will create opportunities for marketing and sales to work together and refine content strategy collaboratively.
If your content-marketing strategy is not working, don’t waste time dissecting processes and placing blame. Start fresh. With Sales, collaboratively look outside the company and learn as much as you about your buyers buy and then build a content plan that addresses knowledge gaps, consumption preferences and buyer roles. It’s the first step toward content-transformation success.
Tonya Vinas is Senior Editor of Content4Demand.