There’s a reason that click bait, listicles, and fake news inspire some thumb-stopping headlines. They promise an answer to a burning question we have (or suddenly realize we have). Even before we asked the question outright, someone offered an answer we’ve been looking for to make our jobs or lives easier or better.
Zeitgeist and trending memes aside, at the core there’s something magical at work here with this predictive Q&A approach. As marketers, this is something we routinely forget. The level of effort it takes to jump straight to the sales punchline—“Our product will save you money!” or “Transform your organization with our services!”—is alluring. It’s quick and easy and doesn’t take the time and effort needed to craft a bespoke marketing plan for each of our persona groups.
But in our reach to the MQL finish line, we forget to ask the fundamental question: Why should our audience care about our products and services in the first place? Being confident about the answer to that changes what marketing success looks like.
One way to shift away from the product-first approach is to pivot toward a solution-focused marketing strategy. But while it’ll showcase deeper value (and hopefully outline your competitive differences), it still might not hook readers as they’re thumbing through an endless stream of sales and marketing spam (not to mention all the non-marketing content they see throughout the day).
Which is why, instead of a product- or solution-based strategy, it’s better to start with a question-based strategy.
A question-based strategy?
Definitely. Even in B2B marketing, you need to first consider each of your persona’s unique interests and needs. This will help you understand exactly of the types of content to produce for your audience and help streamline your work by focusing on specific types and how much content you need to create. The bottom line: Understand the underlying problem before you start selling solutions.
This approach is even more important today as B2B consumers are drowning in and tuning out all the marketing white noise. In a study by CMO.com, 46% of respondents said they’ve been decluttering their online presence in the past year by deleting or reducing time spent on social media apps (52%), turning their phones to silent at night (47%), unsubscribing from emails, and shifting to watching or reading more high-quality content (25%).
How do I create a question-based strategy?
Happy to tell you! You just need three key pieces of (100% achievable) research to get started:
Define your personas. This doesn’t need to be a multi-day, multi-phone interview process. Gather reps from your marketing, sales, ops, and leadership teams. They know a lot. Use their customer insights to build one-page prototype profiles for each of your key personas. Aim for three or four to get started. That should help you cover a good chunk of the people involved in your B2B buying process (when you’re ready, check out our Art of Buyer Personas template).
Map your buyer’s journey. With personas in place, you’ve got the right audience lens to start building your list of questions. Make a column for each stage in the buyer’s journey and figure out the questions your audience asks at that exact moment. Rinse and repeat for each persona.
Support your marketing efforts. These insights will help across a variety of marketing efforts—they directly support your ABM marketing plans (knowing specific user intent is your primary messaging goal), they help you build out your SEO strategy (these days question-related searches are the boss), and can help you better optimize your campaigns (with a good list of questions, A/B testing will be as pleasant as a warm, tropical breeze).
At the end of the day, there’s one more question you can ask yourself to figure out if you have a marketing approach that will really work:
If all your marketing efforts got sucked into a black hole, would anybody notice or care?
Want to talk quick-and-dirty but effective strategy? Happy to chat. Just get in touch.