A sales guy knows that no two prospects are the same. Hence, no two sales conversations are identical. You know what? You can even have a great sales conversation with some guy on Friday, to be told “bugger off” by that same guy on Monday morning. Some prospects – like other humans – display inconsistent behavior from time to time. Perhaps more so on Monday morning, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard to predict audience behavior.
That’s why content marketing – the art of putting the right content in front of the right audience at the right time through the right vehicles or platforms – can be quite a challenge. What’s right for some prospect, may be very wrong for another. And in business buying situations, you deal with decision makers, influencers, purchasing departments, consultants – it’s not always, or always never, clear who is buying to begin with. So what’s the right audience? Anyway, I wrote about this before.
The good folks over at JESS3 created a Content Marketing infographic on two dimensions. (1) They map content vehicles and assets on the buyer’s journey (Awareness, Consideration, Close), and (2) they recommend the channels through which the content is to be distributed to the target audience (Twitter, website, etc). The result is a pretty great infographic – if social media have revolutionized one more thing on top of just The Way Humans Communicate, it is the genre of the Infographic. If a picture says more than a thousand words, an infographic conveys more than a thousand metrics… And so much for lousy analogies. Apologies.
Anyway, though being a great infographic, it’s not granular enough, and as such quite useless in b2b sales situations. To come up with an effective content strategy, b2b marketers need at least 3 more dimensions than the 2 already mentioned above:
- Customer vs. non customer
- Decision Maker vs. Influencer
- Direct sales vs. Indirect sales
Customers and non-customers may receive some of the same assets, but face-to-face time with account management, customer support, and other customers have to be taken into account. Information requirements for decision makers and influencers cannot be compared. And if you do not own the relationship with a target account, the communications setup is entirely different – makes it hard to control the content flow to begin with.
Does that mean that content marketing should be ruled out in b2b environments? No – but marketers will have to spend more time on data management, segmentation and prioritisation. Because it will take an army of marketers, creatives, writers, and producers to cover 5 dimensions, through 3 buyer’s journey phases, times 30 assets. That’s just too many options.
So pick your battles wisely. And allways enjoy your infographics!