Think Info

Exploring the information space

Content Strategy for B2B

While most people were off at Hawk Thompson’s talk on native advertising (which everyone seemed to agree was fabulous), I opted instead for the one subject session from which I was not aiming to learn in order to apply to client scenarios, but for the development of my own business – using content strategy in a business to business situation: how to sell my own endeavours.

Summary:

In their talk, Kati Keronen (KK) and Katri Tanni (KT) tackled content paradigms from the perspective of communications between companies. While this is a different situation to the sales and marketing that many companies deal with when selling directly to end-consumers, there are parallels. And many of the learnings that seem more intuitive when considering the effectively peer-to-peer world of B2B can actually yield great benefits when applied to B2C.

There is a huge disparity between (honest) sales and marketing. The marketing world live for their slogans, their hyperboles; but an honest sale is about a conversation, and identifying if what you have to offer fills a real need. Understanding this distinction between pushing and serving explains why in a B2B conversation, the buyer wants to talk to a person – someone who can adapt to their needs and answer their specific questions. A site can’t do that.

This is not to say that marketing doesn’t have a role to play, but it needs first to learn about customer discussions; it’s real value is in thought leadership – demonstrate your corporate values, not the features of your product. This can be used as supporting material to direct the (potential) customer to, during a person-to-person conversation. As long, that is, as the content is designed from the perspective of what is important to the customer. (Yep, that’s right: no one gives a damn why you want to publish something, if it is of no value to them.)

While the purchaser would rather talk to a person, they will do a lot of research before ever making contact, so appropriate information that answers their questions needs to be available for them to find. (How can you know their needs before you talk to them? As your top sales people – they’ve heard it all before. Repeatedly.) And once you have a customer, even if only “potential,” server them: most customers will choose to do business with suppliers they already know.

Raw notes:

  • Katri Tanni
    • In B2B (and, realistically, B2C) there is a disparity between sales arguments and marketing slogans.
    • B2B sales is a bidirectional conversation. Marketing is push, push, push.
    • In B2B, the customers are more inclined to call their sales/account manager than check a site.
    • Marketing needs to support the sales process. Sales need to teach marketing about customers discussions.
    • From a customer’s perspective, marketing’s value is industry thought leadership.
    • B2B CS: Core values > persona info needs > content flow > content production/governance > analytics.
  • Kati Keronen
    • If you know what you stand for, and what your audience wants to hear, you can create the conversation.
    • Don’t just measure traffic in B2B. Measure the customer’s perception of the value; how it helps their purchase.
    • Guide your B2B customers through your content. Don’t just publish and pray.
    • For B2B customer research… ask your top sales people. They’ve experienced it all.
    • Affecting (value) content: “why is this content important to you?” (not “why do we want to publish it?”)
    • On the web, including in B2B, you have two types of people: information seekers, and buyers. (95/5% split)
    • 65% of B2B buyers choose the supplier they already know, even when shopping around.
    • B2B content/marketing strategy is the process that leads to awareness and engagement, which leads to sales.
    • In B2B, a large portion of the work is done by the customer before they make contact with sales.
    • Communicate strategically with values. Not with products/features.
    • The values to sell with B2B are not our own; it’s the customer’s values that are the key marketing tool.
    • The hardest part of developing a B2B content strategy is getting across organisational silos.
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