If you are reading this, chances are good that you are interested in learning more about how to use content marketing in your B2B marketing efforts. That means this blog is of interest to you, and that’s exactly where developing good content begins – relevancy.
To build relationships with today’s B2B decision makers, you can’t deliver just any content. It has to be real, or what we here at Yesler call REAL content, high-quality material that is Relevant, Enlightening, Actionable, and Lively.
Clever enough, right? But let’s talk about how to actually create relevant content.
Pay Attention to Personas
One of the best ways to focus on the specific needs of your prospects is to build buyer personas. A buyer persona is a composite profile of a type of customer your company serves. You’ll likely need several to match different types of decision makers, such as IT leads, product users, CMOs, or industry influencers.
“Almost nine in ten buyers say that they find content targeted to their industry or job function more valuable.”
– Marketo, Creating Content that Sells: Content Marketing for Demand Generation
Buyer personas take some detailed research. You can use your own CRM data, industry and analyst information, first-hand accounts from your sales team and customer-support staff, LinkedIn profile data, and interviews with current clients to build them. Don’t forget to include details such as the buyer’s role in her company and who she answers to. Try to identify everyone involved in the buying process so you can develop content that addresses the needs of each person’s role and their interactions.
Let’s consider, for example, the buyer personas involved with purchasing a marketing automation solution. There’s the marketing director who is on the receiving end of a lot of grief about lukewarm leads and requests for better sales support. She is motivated to find a better solution, but she also is interested in getting input from the marketing manager who will be using the software day in and day out, the director of sales who needs to get on-board to drive organizational change with his team, and perhaps someone from IT who will be responsible for any integration or user-support issues. Last but not least, there may be another person with budget authority who needs to sign on the figurative dotted line.
Each of these buyer personas brings a different set of questions and concerns to the purchasing process and will be involved at different times. Understanding how to create and deliver the right content to them will help ensure that your content is relevant.
Timing Is Everything
Once you’ve identified buyer personas, the second major pillar of content relevance is mapping your content to each phase of each buyer’s decision path so you can deliver the right content at the right time. It’s important to remember that what buyers find relevant will change as they learn more about how to address their challenges, so you need to develop content that lands with them at different stages of their buying process.
The buying path generally is made up of four phases:
- Awareness. In this stage, prospective buyers begin to identify and define their problem and look for ways to fix it. Your content should anticipate the issues they are dealing with, how to address them, and help them feel more comfortable with the options available to them.
- Research. At this point, buyers start looking for more information about how others have addressed similar challenges and begin to evaluate the differences between possible solutions. Here you can provide content that discusses what factors differentiate each approach and the benefits and drawbacks of each one.
- Consideration. In this phase, buyers start to sort through potential solutions and look for more information about the ones that float to the top of their list. Examples of content that work well at this point in the process include case studies and online demos.
- Decision. With a short list in hand, buyers are ready to choose a solution. Here they are ready to consume detailed product information and understand pricing, service delivery, and specific technical and business details.
You can break your buyer’s journey into more complex phases, but the critical part is analyzing where your buyers are by monitoring and recording their responses to the content you provide and delivering new content that’s relevant to every phase. That way, you can sustain a conversation with buyers all the way from when they begin to look for help to the point where they are ready to purchase.
Focus on Your Strengths, and Keep it Up to Date
Address challenges that buyers can meet with the technology or services you provide, and make sure your content is always up to date. Stay current with industry trends and discussions, and pepper your content with quotes and citations from the influencers and thought leaders that are important in your market. It is hard to impress the current hyper-informed business buyer if your content doesn’t keep pace with today’s dynamic digital conversation.
Audit your content regularly. Check whether or not it is still relevant, how it is being used, what works (and what doesn’t), and how it could be improved or replaced. Make sure you have a robust mix of content resources, and consider using external resources to help you create and refresh your content.
Next Steps to REAL Content
Look out for subsequent posts about how to make your REAL content more enlightening, actionable, and lively. And for more information, download the Yesler REAL Content Assessment.
Image credit: nicolasnova