As you may know, I work on a lot of B2B marketing content projects. I also work for a lot of big companies that have a lot of people working on the solutions and services I help them sell. And, let's not forget the brand and legal people. Each one of them has an investment in how the content represents their area of expertise.
But should they have the last "word" on your marketing content?
These corporate sources should have some influence, even input. But with the final approval stamp, they can cause a lot of damage that they really believe they're helping the company to avoid.
Here's what I mean:
Legal is very literal.
I was once told I had to include the phrase "with an Internet connection" whenever I talked about accessing an SaaS product. Think about this. Would someone without an Internet connection even be reading about or interesting in acquiring a solution only available through Internet access? And, since the content was to be distributed online, would they even have access to it?
Because the nature of the product required that we talk about online capabilities, you can imagine the creativity required to try to write the content in a way that didn't necessitate using that phrase in every other sentence. Was that necessary? Would the content have been better if it could have been written more fluidly by working under the assumption that our audience was indeed savvy enough to realize that anything "online" required an Internet connection?
Solution developers love feeds and speeds.
These are your experts. They know everything about the products - how they operate, how all the parts work together, and how to use them to get the best results. To them it's obvious. They want to talk about all those feeds and speeds. It's what they're passionate about. But solution developers don't realize that your prospects don't know and likely don't care about that stuff until they get farther along in their buying process. Some of them will never care as that part is the job of someone else.
The other issue is that it's virtually impossible to get solution developers to unlearn what they know to get to the prospect's perspective. They think they can, but not very many of them can do it well.
Brand stewards are bound by the big picture.
Corporate marketers are wrapped up in the brand. This can be either useful or limiting depending on how closely aligned your brand is to your prospects and customers. If the way the brand is presented is continuously evolving to meet your markets on their turf, then it's good.
If the brand is after a space too wide to be relevant to the specific niche your content is aiming to reach, then some compromise needs to be made. I'm not saying that content should go against brand. I am saying that the more marketers are able to focus on segmentation and personalization with content, the greater the need for flexibility in brand representation.
Marketers need to take proactive steps.
Since it's unlikely that marketers will ever get complete control over content creation-often a good thing-here are a few steps you can take to give your content the best opportunity to do the job you need it to:
- Create personas for your most ideal prospect segments.
- Map content to buying stages - build a storyline for routes to purchase for each product or solution to each persona.
- Get salespeople in the room to confirm or help modify the personas and maps until you both agree you're on target.
- Present the personas and storylines to your legal, solution and brand people and work together to create a style baseline that matches up.
Once you've all worked together to create the foundation for content creation, marketing can work to create a continuous flow of content that matches up to prospect needs from the start. This also streamlines the publishing process to enable marketing to fuel the content engine you rely on for lead generation and prospect nurturing.
Using this proactive approach makes a lot more sense than spending time and resources to draft content that can turn out differently every time when you're reliant on random corp-sourcing to get your content approved for publishing. Plus it just takes too much time.
Oh, and the style baseline can also be helpful in establishing how your company interacts consistently through social media. Something to be considered since they're probably doing it anyway.
What do you think?
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