Last week, I was part of a Webinar, “The 7 Rules for the Connected B-2-B Marketer” with Ardath Albee and Scott Mersy. It was a great Webinar, and the on-demand version is available so check it out. Matt West provides a nice recap of the event. Also, we have posted the questions viewers asked during the Webinar on Focus.com for the experts and for general discussion. I figured I would jump into the fray with my take on the seven rules.
Below is my interpretation of seven rules for the connected B2B marketer:
Rule 1: Develop buyer personae. Understand your prospects. Know who they are, how they tend to behave, and where they interact in the sales cycle.
The Funnelholic take: This should be an exercise led by the marketing department that is presented to the entire organization. It’s amazing that the content marketing revolution is the impetus for this exercise. Understanding personae is critical to sales, product management, marketing, etc. A lot of this information is locked in people’s brains from their customer/prospect interactions, so you need to find a way to extract it. But that shouldn’t be everything you do for persona building; part of this process has to involve talking to your best customers. Once you go through this process, you’ll understand how powerful this exercise can be.
Rule 2: Align content with buyers. Determine what types of information your prospects will need, based on who they are, how they behave and where they are in their buying process.
The Funnelholic take: Admit it – often we create content that we want the prospects to have instead of the content they want. The content marketer creates a series of content for each persona that advances them along the buying cycle (not the sales cycle). The way you determine the type of content buyers want is during the “Buyer Persona” interviews with high value customers mentioned above. I would also suggest surveys from a third party to get the “real” scoop.
Rule 3: Build consistency across channels. It’s simple – keep your stories straight and leverage as many avenues as possible to get your message out. Your prospects will engage with a variety of content formats, depending on where they are in their buying process and their preferences for how they tend to consume information. In order to answer their needs, you need to maintain consistent messaging across all channels.
The Funnelholic take: This is a really important point because everyone consumes information differently. Here is an example: We did a study of the CRM market and found that business decision makers liked Webinars, short (one-page) white papers, and even in some cases, video. They have no time to read a technology-focused white paper. On the other hand, technical contacts have to wrap their hands around technical aspects and still like traditional white papers that are longer and more detailed. Limiting your content to one channel means you are limiting yourself to getting content into the right person’s hands at the right time.
Rule 4: Let the experts do the talking. Your prospects are looking for solutions for their business challenges. Your job as a marketer is to provide them with information that is valuable and of interest to them. If you are not the expert in a particular area, find someone who is. They will be more than happy to contribute.
The Funnelholic take: There are some simple ways to think about this: Who do you believe more, a documentary or an infomercial? The experts lend credibility to the content, can present it better than you because they talk about it every day and give prospects meaningful, memorable content that will pay dividends down the line. Remember, content is the battle ground now, not brand positioning on billboards or advertising. Expert content is more likely to get downloaded and appreciated than anything else you can create.
Rule 5: Use multi-channel distribution. Much like rule 3, because your buyers each have different preferences for consuming information, you need to serve up your information in a manner that is easy and enjoyable for everyone to consume. Let’s use the above-referenced Webinar as an example. We pulled together a team of experts to develop “The 7 New Rules for the Connected B2B Marketer,” compared the Webinar to multiple other channels (blogs, emails and multiple social media channels), then hosted a Webinar to deliver the message. We posted the questions and responses from the Webinar on Focus.com. I wrote this blog post. And now, I’m going to go tweet about it. Hopefully you do, too.
The Funnelholic take: Here’s where you can get my attention: Twitter. Email is a hit-or-miss proposition, that is, it works but sometimes gets lost. And that’s just me. Today’s buyers are busy, distracted, and in total control of what platform they prefer for getting their information. What that means for marketers is that simple, multi-channel delivery is the only want to even come close to capturing and maintaining buyer attention.
Rule 6: Automate the process. This can be broken down into the four “Rs:” Reach, Response, Relationship and Revenue.
1. Reach: Leverage social media and other prolific channels to pique interest and engage with a broad audience. Be sure to begin tracking their interactions at this level– even before you know who they are.
2. Response: The most interesting part of engaging a customer is what happens after you reach the prospect. Despite all the hype about social media, most marketers aren’t sure how to measure its effectiveness.
3. Relationships: Build relationships by delivering timely and personalized messages based on prospects’ profiles and behavior.
4. Revenue: Ultimately lead nurturing must feed sales. If it doesn’t, then it hasn’t fulfilled its promise.
The Funnelholic take: I love this one. I’m not sure what came first; did automation help create the content marketing revolution or the other way around? Net-net, you need an internal platform to do this right. You can create all the content you want, but that is just part of the equation. Automation helps you deliver and optimize what you’re doing and helps drive what the real goal is: feeding sales.
Rule 7: Get connected. In today’s era of content marketing, inbound marketing, pull marketing, etc., it’s important to know that there is no magic recipe that fills all organizations. In order for any of the methods above to work, all of them need to be incorporated on some level. A “connected marketer” is linked to valuable content, intelligent people, respected organizations and above all, works in a cooperative manner to make themselves a valuable resource to their prospective buyers.
The Funnelholic take: The corporate Web site has been defined in the past by containing a convoluted, pie-in-the-sky value prop, a dumb picture, and reg-protected brochure-ware. Pfffft. The content marketing revolution dictates that the corporate Web site change from a boring, sales-centric, non-converting site to a buyer resource that provides helpful content from the start of the process (research) to the end of the process (choosing a vendor). Keep in mind one thing: The marketer today looks more like a publisher than ever before, so think and act like one. Here are a couple great examples: