This year, BtoB companies will invest as much as one-third of their total marketing budgets in developing content to fuel lead nurturing activities. Unfortunately, for many, this investment will not pay off as planned in increased visibility, lead capture or better bottom-line results.
What’s missing is an overall, well-thought-out and comprehensive content strategy. In today’s attention-challenged, ultra-segmented and over-marketed BtoB environment, the traditional approach of developing a few white papers, case studies and data sheets and blasting them out to a list of all suspects, prospects and customers, hoping to achieve the “nirvana” of a high download rate are over – for good.
Three-D isn’t only for Hollywood blockbusters featuring blue-skinned aliens. Managing content today also requires a three-dimensional strategic approach that considers all aspects of delivering your message to a relevant audience in an ongoing and impactful way. We call it 3D Content Mapping.
First Dimension – Segmentation
While certainly not a new idea, focus is still important. Product information can get away with being generic. However, content that appeals to a prospect by title, industry, functional role or pain point is much stronger, and has a much higher chance of being read, than a generic white paper trying to appeal equally to a CEO, CFO, line of business executive and IT director.
Delivering content that appeals directly to a business executive’s key concerns shows you understand what they are struggling with, and better positions your solution. Shortcutting this step by building one piece of content aimed at everyone is seldom effective.
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Second Dimension – Buying cycle
The BtoB buying cycle has undergone dramatic transformation over the past few years. Today’s prospects are much more in control of the information flow, relying on trusted online resources and solution providers’ websites far more often than sales reps to identify solutions, evaluate options and develop short lists for further consideration. The role of today’s BtoB marketers in this new environment is to offer the right content, matched to the individual prospect’s level of interest.
For example, sending a comparison guide demonstrating why your solution is better than a competitor’s may be effective with a prospect looking to narrow the field, but will likely turn away a prospect seeking basic information about what type of solution might best serve their needs. Conversely, a white paper focused on general business challenges won’t do much to help your case if the prospect is trying to select companies or solutions to be short-listed. The key is having content customized to specific stages within the buying cycle.
Third Dimension – Content type
Savvy BtoB marketers realize that even feeding highly focused content to their market isn’t enough to guarantee strong positive action. Keeping the message fresh requires using multiple content options to appeal to different prospect preferences. While some may still enjoy curling up by the fire with a good technical whitepaper (forgive the tongue-in-cheek reference), others prefer a video that presents a similar message, or maybe a live or recorded webcast. Marketers must serve up the options, then track the vehicles that best resonate with particular audiences.
While this seems like a lot of work, with effective planning, it need not be as challenging as one would think. For example, let’s assume you are marketing a new manufacturing/supply chain solution and had planned to develop a white paper on the challenges facing manufacturers in the supply chain. By brainstorming the typical needs of your audience, you can determine the most interesting topics. Once determined and validated, a topic can be developed into a white paper, with the executive summary turned into a separate bulleted list of “Top Tips,” and the summary used as a “Getting Started with …” piece.
Building out a webinar presentation from the same material should be fairly straightforward, and executing the webinar in live, recorded, video and audio-only podcast format requires little additional effort. The result is at least seven content elements in three delivery mediums. If you add the potential of multiple blog posts pulled from the white paper, the number can increase significantly.
Creating your organization’s specific 3D content map can take some time and should involve input from both the marketing and sales teams. But the payoff from investing the energy to develop the segmentation, buying cycle and content type matrix will be significant in developing and nurturing opportunities from your prospect base.
If you need assistance with building your 3D content map, we are always happy to help. Contact Arketi at email@example.com.
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