Content marketing in a multi-market, multi-product business can become very complicated.
In this blog post I offer some insight on how to solve that complexity, using pain based segmentation and simplification of your content marketing strategy.
The classic buying journey
Customer centric content is what attracts, engages and eventually helps to make the sale.
But when customers move through their relationship with a brand, their focus changes. They constantly go through a changing state-of-mind, depending on a lot of different factors. Read more
Advertisement overload and content overload are causing buyers to be blind for outbound marketing. Marketers these days are turning to content marketing as a way to break through the blindness and information clutter.
Because of the abundance of information out there, buyer behavior is changing. As Michael Brenner, @B2BMKTGInsider, one of my favorite marketers likes to put it :
“Buyers wait until they have completed 60-80% of their research before reaching out to vendors”.
Buyers turn to their “circles of trust”, on and off-line. Vendor information, social Media and word of mouth remain the major sources of influence to buyers according to the Buyersphere 2012 report.
The millennial effect, which describes the way the generation born after 1980 who never knew a time without internet and mobile phones, turn to social media networks for information and advice. People from this generation are slowly becoming the decision-makers of the future.
The shift of power to buyers
All these changes are causing a major shift of power:
- from site centric to user centric: buyers where informed where they go, today buyers have access to information on-line and through their networks, where-ever they are.
- from brand image to transparency: companies can no longer hide imperfections or bad behavior. They need to be open, authentic and transparent. If not they get heavily punished by the public opinion (see this Toyota case).
- from the sales guy to the buyer: buyers these days often know more then the sales guy, because they have lots of sources of information before they buy. Buyers have very detailed and specific questions, which sales people or organizations will need to able to answer.
Some time ago, I started using Slideshare as an extra way of putting out content to buyers.
At first it was an experiment, but we must have done something right, because soon we had over 10.000 views on a number of presentations.
Because we passed the 10.000 views mark, we got a mail from Slideshare to try the PRO version of Slideshare, adding lots of interesting functionality. Yeah, nice !
Sneaky free offering
Interesting, as it seemed, I went on to their website and tried to activate the free month trial period.
I got quickly disappointed, as the offering required me to fill in my credit card details. The sneaky bit here is that although they would not debit my credit card, filling in all the details would mean an AUTOMATIC renewed monthly debit subscription to the PRO service. I also saw that at LinkedIn, but hey, aren’t they the same company?
Marketing take-away: if you are offering a free trial period, make sure the terms and conditions do not harm your brand by putting in sneaky or less appealing conditions. Your offering must remain attractive, even during the free trial period.
Resisting to have me as their customer
The number of views kept growing, so I decided to go for it. As our company is not set-up to work easily with on-line credit card payments, I hoped that Slideshare would be able to invoice me fort heir services.
This post is about todays buyers that inform themselves first through their “circle of trust” on the web, and create a short-list of vendors, before they approach them.
You must have noticed it yourself. How do you go about when you want to buy something? Chances are high that you talk to someone who has some experience with what you want to buy. But chances are much higher that you go on-line and that you build up your knowledge by visiting review sites, blogs, or contact some of your contacts on LinkedIn who might have some experience with what you intend to buy.
Oh no, not another post on content marketing
Before you think ‘oh no’, not yet another post about content marketing and inbound marketing, “tell me something I do not know”. Fair enough.
I want to share with you a little story on how I started realizing that indeed the buying process of professional has changed and that I had to change myself as a marketing professional.