The gap I see most often is a lack of early stage content that develops a relationship from the start of the buying process and primes your prospects for that later-stage interest. B2B buyers of complex solutions need a lot of education before product-oriented content is useful to them.
Early stage content is not about your product. Your company is the only entity that truly cares about your product. What people care about is what your product enables them to achieve. But, at the early stage, prospects don't even care about that. Whatever their situation, they're dealing with it. It may not be ideal, but it hasn't stopped them in their tracks, so it's sufficient.
This means that we need to reach farther back from what our product enables people to achieve in order to create content relevant enough to gain the attention of early stage leads. Before you can talk to them about change, you've got to show them you understand their current circumstances.
Start by answering the following questions:
- What situation(s) cause people to want to achieve the outcome your products deliver?
- What caused that situation to exist in the first place?
- What circumstances made the situation so untenable that it motivated your customers to take action to change it?
The answers to those questions should point you toward the subject matter for content development. Think of it as meeting on common ground.
When you address the situation your prospects are living with everyday, they can instantly relate. They'll look farther to see what else they may not know about their situation. They'll engage with your content because they can see themselves in the storyline.
Beyond that, by creating early stage content, you gain credibility. You show your prospects that you understand their business, roles and responsibilities, as well as how difficult it can be to figure out how to go about changing their situation-or even why they should.
Considering that prospects are demanding that companies they choose to partner with come to the table prepared, you're already showing them the depth of knowledge and consideration your company extends to customers.With longer buying cycles, it's critical that marketers position their companies to become the anchor prospects seek out to help form their thinking about their situations-and the possibilities for change-by starting from common ground.
When you can engage at this level, prospects will take next steps with you to move forward. This means you need a progressive content strategy for how you'll motivate them to take action. By starting with a focus on status quo, you'll have a solid foundation on which to build it.
Just remember that early-stage content needs to help prospects move from "So what?" to "Now what?"
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