When you’ve got all types of people with all types of appetites, offering a set menu can leave some unsatisfied. If you’re trying to serve content to multiple stakeholders, on a buying committee or otherwise, you’re going to run into the same problem. One solution: lay out a buffet and your buyers serve themselves.
At several recent events, including the Demand Gen Report B2B Marketing Exchange and a webinar for the Demand Gen Report Content Optimization Series, I’ve talked with marketing professionals who aren’t seeing the performance they want (and need) from their content. Getting the right message for the right persona in the right vehicle and in the right channels is critical, but you need to consider these parameters from the inception of a project rather than after assets have been created.
Some of the specific challenges I keep hearing are:
I think we also need to be asking, “Is the asset fun, interesting, and/or unique?” because connecting with people is much easier if they enjoy what they are consuming. That brings me – in dad joke fashion – to my tried but true buffet analogy.
Set the table for the whole team
In Texas, football is life. When my son told me we would be hosting a dinner for his high school team, I just had to figure out how, not if. And with four dozen teenage boys to feed, it wasn’t going to be a small task.
First, I had to get details on dietary restrictions. Of course, we had a couple of vegans, some peanut allergies, and several who do not eat anything green under any circumstances. Next, I had to dream up a menu that would work for everyone and still generate raves, so spaghetti and pizza were out of the question. Then, I needed to configure the set up – food, tables, and drink stations – so that everyone could navigate the buffet and reach the table without tripping over a wide receiver or plowing into a defensive back. TL;DR: we had a Cajun buffet that was a huge hit, even with the vegans and the “no healthy choices” kids.
The lesson? Approach your content like you’re feeding a football team. Your audience is going to come hungry, but what will they want to eat? How much will it take to fill them up? And how can you organize the layout so that everyone can get in, fill a plate, and leave thinking you’ve just served the best meal of the season?
Here are some questions and answers to help you feed a team and have them asking for more.
What is your audience hungry for?
You know what you want to say about your business, but what does your audience need and want to hear? If you want to serve content they will gobble up, you’re going to need to understand their pain points and address those in your content.
Part of this process should include an informal review of content that already exists in your space and is offered by your competitors. A great way to contribute a unique voice to the conversation is a campaign based on trends, influencer insights, or a research report. Whatever you choose, be sure to feed your audience something substantive enough that they finish feeling smarter or better informed.
Who are you feeding?
In all likelihood, you have personas you could be using for content development. It’s also likely these are rarely consulted or have been forgotten. If you aren’t actively consulting your personas, take some time to think about why that is and how you could make them more usable. Think SparkNotes, not Shakespeare.
Decide which personas you are trying to reach. Then map out the buyer’s journey, including the value those personas will derive from each piece of content. A CFO may want to quantify exactly how your solution will impact the bottom line. A technical lead may care more about how work is made easier. You can’t reach every persona in every asset, but you should make sure you have messaging that works for your target audience for each buying stage.
What can you serve so that everyone leaves full?
When you’re creating content, the trick is including messaging that works for several different stakeholders. Interactive options are ideal. At our agency, we use Ceros, which is a no-code platform that gives designers countless opportunities for making engaging experiences. These “choose your own adventure” assets allow users to interact with the content that matters to them. And the nature of these tools means you have to condense your copy into small but rich morsels of information.
If interactivity is not in your budget, you can still lean on design for reaching readers. Offer plenty of callouts, sidebars, resources, and quotations. Include both chunks of high-level ideas and links to longer-form content for those who want granular details.
Regardless of your approach, always keep the buying committee in mind. The Demand Gen Report 2023 B2B Buyers Content Preferences Survey shows shareable content as an important factor for half of respondents. Speak to as many decision-makers as you can and deliver real value in the asset, so readers are more likely to share.
How can you bring people to the table?
How will anyone know your content exists? It isn’t just as simple as a SEO review. Yes, you need to design your content with the right keywords. But don’t focus solely on the algorithm; remember that your copy needs to connect with a human and create for both. And keep in mind that AI is going to change the world of search dramatically over the next year or two. More on that in another post.
But are people even seeing the optimized content on your website? A recent research report on B2B buying preferences from Trust Radius confirms that B2B buyers are doing most of their research on solutions before they ever visit a vendor website. So how can you ensure those buyers consider your solution? Or even know your business exists?
Think about the watering holes you know your audience gathers around (like LinkedIn, Reddit, or message boards). Stay on top of what is being said about your business in those channels (and use that language in your copy) and be part of conversations in those spaces. You’ll also want to invite your customers and prospects to the table with snappy social copy and email nurture campaigns. I’ve seen good results with clients using intent data and review sites for guiding outreach.
Ring the dinner bell
The bottom line is a strategic approach to content creation doesn’t just mean developing tools for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Before you invest your precious time and dollars, make sure you’ve set the table for success.