One widely accepted rule in B2B content marketing is that product-focused content belongs in the final stage of the buyer’s journey. Education first. Solutions second. Product third.
If only it were that simple…
The irony is that by saying unequivocally that buyers don’t want product information until they are ready to buy, we are imposing the same “we know best” assumptions about buyers that we had pre-content marketing. It’s true that research shows buyers want more educational and solutions-oriented content, but nothing says educational and solutions-oriented content must never include information on products. Sometimes by including product information, we actually help buyers.
This infographic is a good example. NanoLumens sells a specific type solution that is unique in the high-definition LED display market, a crowded place with providers that — to most people — all seem to do the same thing. As a top-of-the funnel, lead generation or nurture asset, this infographic provides immediate feedback to buyers on whether it’s worth their time to continue a conversation with NanoLumens.
Who wouldn’t appreciate that information considering how time-starved we all are? (By the way, this is good information for NanoLumens, too. The infographic does a ton of prequalifying work.)
More Mature Buyers
Another reason to make the “product rule” more of a “rule of thumb” is that a lot of newer entrants sending and receiving content are mature companies that don’t always need to be convinced that there’s a reason to buy. For instance, banks know they need to follow regulations, and manufacturers know that all of their equipment will eventually need to be replaced. Mature-buyer goals tend to be less about solving a problem and more about doing the same thing more efficiently, more effectively and/or with less cost.
It’s not uncommon for direct displacement of a competitor to be the goal of nurture campaigns for mature companies, and competitive differentiators more often directly hit top- or bottom-line performance. (As an aside, all differentiators should map back to financial performance, but in mature industries, solutions tend to have more immediate and direct impact.)
It makes sense, then, that educational content should focus specifically on differentiators and their impact, a conversation that often includes products.
The 24-Hour Content Buffet
Technology is enabling marketers to extend the value of their content outside of buyer-stage nurturing models and collect valuable back-end analytics on what each hub visitor is reviewing. Uberflip’s hub solution is a great example. Flipbook platforms are another example because they keep an asset stored in a secure location to be referenced again and again, with or without a gate.
I often hear salespeople say that every sale matters. If that’s the case, then individual buyers and their unique content preferences matter. Rules of thumb give us guidance on scope when we are planning content, and that’s a great thing. Just don’t forget that there are exceptions to every rule.