Slipper sales went up 70% during the pandemic, and divorce lawyers saw a 34% increase in business. These stats grabbed the audience’s attention as Jay Baer, keynote speaker and founder of Convince & Convert, opened his presentation about relevant content, “The 3 Drawbridges: How to Cross the Moat of B2B Buyers’ Attention,” at the B2B Marketing Exchange.
Jay brought memories of the early days of lockdowns into sharp focus: The ground shifting beneath our feet. The uncertainty we experienced. The ways B2B marketers rose to the challenge and embraced fresh approaches to respond to that uncertainty.
While people flocked to divorce attorneys (presumably in their slippers), Salesforce says that nine out of 10 marketers changed their content strategies. Total marketing messages skyrocketed by 40%, according to Forrester.
The result? A full two-thirds of buyers said that marketers are giving them too much material.
We need to be “radically relevant,” Jay says. And he spelled out three decisions we make that I think you can look to as lighthouses when you think you’re in a fog about how to develop relevant content.
Select the Right Content Format
I’m going to start with Jay’s third point first—choosing the right modality—because it’s something we’ve talked a lot about with our clients here at Content4Demand lately. The best content can fall flat if it’s not in the format buyers prefer. (Be sure to check out the 2022 Content Preferences Survey Report from our sister company, Demand Gen Report, for the latest data.)
Most marketers are adept at planning modular content—creating one large, big rock asset and slicing it into a mini library of smaller assets. You can turn a meaty E-book into an infographic, several blog posts, a checklist and so on.
But what about the other way around? Do you ever scan your library for the smaller assets you can build into a larger piece that you can make “radically relevant” to a new audience?
When Jay pulled up an example to illustrate best practices for doing just that, I was delighted to see Content4Demand’s own work plastered across his screen: the interactive case study portfolio we created for BMC Software.
In this interactive piece, we collected existing BMC case studies into an interactive experience where users can explore the expected challenge/solution stories as well as videos, audio, testimonials and data. This new format inspired 2,800 clicks right away and became the most popular and effective case study BMC has produced in the history of their company.
Communicate the Right Message
Now let’s go back and talk about the first strategy: the right message.
Two-thirds of B2B buyers would switch vendors if the marketing messages they’re receiving aren’t personalized in some way.
Many marketers are stuck in yesterday’s thinking, trying to reach as broad an audience as possible. Instead, Jay says, we should be trying to connect with “the smallest possible perfect audience.”
Relevant content isn’t relevant to everyone, but it’s incredibly relevant to a small segment of B2B buyers. Your mission is to get your content in their hands.
“Specificity is what makes your content special,” he says. “[It’s] what makes it memorable, is what makes it effective.”
6 in 10 B2B tech companies created content for two or fewer funnel stages in 2020.
Content libraries that are out of balance are almost always full of content that’s brand- rather than client-focused. You’re either speaking to too broad an audience with top-of-the-funnel content that fails to move anyone deeper to mid-funnel content, or you’re hitting them with late-stage content that’s pushing too soon for a buying decision. In a word, your content is irrelevant to a large portion of your audience.
The fix is simple: Make your content useful for the specific need a user has at a particular moment in the buyer’s journey. Watch Jay Baer’s entire keynote for some fun examples of relevant content, including Cisco content he calls “freakishly specific.”
May of our own clients decide to tackle the challenge head-on by working with us to perform content audits and gap analyses. We customize these strategy services to achieve your specific goals. You can see one example in this blog post about the custom audit we conducted for JLL.
Spotlight the Right Messenger
We’ve talked so far about the message and the vehicle for that message, but the last decision Jay spoke about involves the who behind the message in relevant content.
Information from customers and peers is 50% more credible to B2B buyers than information from brands.
How much content comes just from your brand—the messenger that buyers care the least about? User-generated content creates the funnel velocity that brand-driven content never will.
Jay shared some fun examples to demonstrate the possibilities of user-generated content, including an absolutely inspired social media campaign—“The Getty Museum Challenge”—that the Getty Museum launched during the pandemic to get its audience involved in replicating iconic works of.
The messenger is becoming an even more crucial factor as Millennials make their preferences known. As Jay put it:
A major driver for this is that customers want to see themselves in your message. The lower your content is in this ranking, the more it’s about you, not them.
User-generated content is what they want to see most. We’ve found another way to help customers see themselves in your content. We call it “day in the life” content, and it’s designed from start to finish to put your solution firmly in their shoes. It walks through a day in their lives, both to demonstrate that you understand their challenges and that you have what they need to solve those challenges.
We’ve created day-in-the-life content in E-books, infographics and everything in between. Here’s a cool example from HqO, which presents a day in the life of each member of the buying committee.
The answer to getting through to buyers today isn’t more content, it’s the right content in the right place at the right time. The answer, as Jay put it, is to be radically relevant.
If you’d like to see some examples of the radically relevant content we’re creating for B2B marketers like you, contact me to set up time to talk.
Holly Celeste Fisk is an accomplished marketing pro with 20+ years of experience in B2B and B2C. She’s responsible for Content4Demand’s internal marketing efforts, managing everything from content creation and email marketing to events and sponsorships, blog publishing, website management and social media presence. When she’s not working, you’ll find her sliding into third at softball, buried in a book or practicing her Italian.