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10 Simple B2B Content Marketing Tips for Complex Solutions
Posted on June 26th 2013
Take the Einstein Approach to Simplification
It’s true that compared with B2C, the B2B marketer doesn’t have it quite that easy when it comes to connecting and engaging with their target audience. The B2B lead generation process for one typically follows the 15-60-25 rule. Only 15% of the leads you engage with qualify as “right-time-right-place”—so they may choose to buy based on their strong inclination. 60% of leads fall within the nurturing phase—so these will get filtered through your sales funnel. 25% are not interested at all. Savvy marketers know that you have to qualify your leads no matter what and attempt to convert that 15% top layer before reaching out to the remaining 60%.
In addition, the B2B sales cycle itself is complex. There are too many gatekeepers, multiple influencers and a mix of decision makers…not all of whom work cohesively and in tandem with each other. With sales and marketing departments working in silos in a majority of the B2B organizations, there are far too many cracks and holes in the lead nurturing process. Many good quality leads are lost as a result.
One thing is for sure, every B2B company today realizes that content marketing is an integral part of their demand generation and marketing strategy. But content marketing is not easy—even the first step, content creation, is a challenge. One of the most common reasons cited by B2B organizations for wanting to create content in-house is: “Our business and solutions are too complex to explain, so we cannot outsource content marketing.” And that is just the point I’d like you to think about as you read this—if your communications do not help prospects understand very simply how you can resolve their challenges, your “solutions” are just not the right solution!
As one of the greatest scientists, Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” (Tweet this!)
Let’s take a cue from how simply this scientific genius explained the concept of relativity—“ When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” There are volumes written on this cornerstone of modern physics, but in one simple sentence, Einstein made things clear to even the most scientifically challenged individuals. What can we learn from this? The most important takeaway in my opinion is the lesson that no matter how complex and complicated your product or service may be, there is a way to simplify it and present it to your customers in a compelling way.
B2B Content Marketing Simplified – In 10 Easy Steps
There is a movement currently on in the United States—a movement to make simplicity, clarity, empathy and transparency a national priority. Watch the man behind this mission, brand guru Alan Siegel present this movement to simplify communications by the government. The corporate world also needs to rally their forces to meet buyer demand for simplified communications. How can corporations afford to complicate matters for their buyers when even government is starting to communicate in a simple, effective manner?
Here are 10 quick tips to simplify your B2B content and make it shareable, make it compelling, make it sell and make it stick:
- Speak from your customer’s point of view: Yes, you know your product and want to tell your prospects everything that’s great about it. But here’s the thing—they don’t care. What they care about is whether you understand their pain points and have a real solution to their problems. Your B2B content should focus less on your product or service and more on how it solves buyers’ problems faster, better and more accurately than your competitors’. That’s when your demand generation will experience acceleration in the right direction. Download a free copy of The ALEA Demand Generation Playbook to further help your efforts.
- Talk less, listen more, and act even more: Social networks facilitate this today better than many other mediums can. Rather than getting carried away with a continuous blast of information, listen to what buyers are discussing on social forums. Then act upon what they are seeking and deliver as efficiently and as quickly as you can. Know that a proactively written blog post, email piece or landing page that addresses an active discussion in your target group is better than a 15 page whitepaper that takes 3 months to write.
- Use language your audience speaks—save the tech-speak for your in-house geek squad: If your buyers understood all the technical and technological aspects of your business solution, they would likely build it themselves. After all, they really know their business much better than you do. When they show interest in the solution you have to offer, they want it explained in simple terms using the language of business.
- Avoid condescension—but remember that simplification does not mean talking down: Your audience is not made up of dummies! I talked a while ago about my visit to Chef Bocuse’s restaurant in Lyon. If you look at his cuisine, he’s been doing the same thing for years and yet is revered as a master—the chef of the century. His dishes are neither too simple, nor too fancy—just perfectly balanced to bring out the best in each ingredient that goes in to make delectable, classic fare. Even the way he presents his cuisine is masterful; there is no clutter and hodge-podge but everything is strategically placed and each element of the dish has a clear and simple function. What can we emulate from Chef Bocuse and his inimitable style of classic French cuisine? How can we make our B2B content so compelling, delightful and valuable that our audience wants to keep coming back for more? The answer is simplicity.
- Keeping checking on levels of understanding throughout the process: Ask buyers to explain your product/service in their own words; this can be immensely useful. You may be shocked to find out that their interpretation of what you thought you were communicating quite simply is far from what it should be. You may also be pleasantly surprised to hear their matter-of-fact, solution-based summary of what your product means to them. Either way, you will have much to learn.
- Highlight benefits to show value—features are mere factual details: Try as we might, many of us continue to confuse features with benefits. What we need to communicate is exactly how each feature of our product or service translates into a real, tangible benefit for our customers. Even a simple news story like your company launching a user blog can be communicated as a benefit—“We are delighted that you can now connect with us in a direct, straight-forward manner through our blog. This is your forum—we want to hear from you.” But instead, many of us will announce this news by saying something like, “Our corporate blog is the latest feature of our online properties. It will be updated daily in order to share news, views and industry insights…blah, blah, blah” Do you think your customers care? They don’t.
- Find examples and analogies in your prospects’ life so they can relate: You can wax eloquent about your storage virtualization solution, but your customers won’t understand it unless you bring it into their everyday lives. Talk to them about a cluttered office and how difficult it becomes when you pack boxes of your data files over the years without proper signage. They will relate to the loss of time, endless effort and falling levels of productivity. They will see clearly that you can save their time and money, minimize effort and enhance productivity.
- Build on existing strengths of your solutions to show expanded capabilities / enhancements: You don’t always have to start all over. If your target audience already recognizes certain unique elements that make your product and brand stand out, the best thing you can do is reinforce those strengths and build on them to show progression and enhancement. Emphasize the fact that a solution that has served them well over the years is now even better, even more powerful.
- Speak to a list of implicit issues that buyers have on their mind—it makes them feel connected: We often assume that buyers already know what their concerns and issues are and so we don’t need to remind them. The fact is, they want to hear it from you. They want to know that you are cognizant of the issues they face and are continuously innovating to help them meet those challenges.
- Demonstrate ROI and how it can be measured: Simple by no means is simplistic. You can’t leave it to your buyers’ imagination to figure out the ROI your solution will deliver. Yes, you need to strike a balance, remain, elegant and classy and use all that sophistication which makes for valuable, cut-above-the-rest communication. But you can define and spell out the ROI for your buyers and show them how to measure it. That’s when you show them real value.
What are some simple ways your B2B company has used effectively to market complex solutions?