With the increase in publishing opportunities and the distribution of marketing across the enterprise (from field marketing to corporate marketing to demand gen to product marketing, and more), B2B marketers are sending a considerable amount of marketing content into the ether. The problem is that all the variations derived by different marketing functions may be creating confusion more than driving interest or delivering recognizable value.
IDC recently conducted a survey of B2B CMOs asking them which "voice" they use to go to market. The six choices included:
- product line
- campaign (theme)
- customer segment
- job role
The responses indicate that companies are using all of them pretty evenly.
What strikes me first about the choices is that most of them are company focused. Actually, depending upon the angle of approach, all of them could end up company focused. In fairness, they could also be buyer focused - but, given this remark from a CMO that Rich Vancil spoke with, I'm guessing that's not the norm:
In a recent head-to-head with a CMO I asked: "From a marketing perspective, what is your single biggest challenge for your $20b company?" His reply: "We need to ensure that the marketing messaging that we create here at the top is effectively threaded into our execution all across and down through the organization".
The answer to this challenge is for B2B marketers to unify around one voice - the one that resonates with their buyers. That means it must first and foremost be focused on their buyers' perspectives.
With that in mind, take a look at how one voice can be applied to unify what used to be 6 distinct voices:
Product Line - messaging must revolve around what the product enables buyers to achieve in relation to a business priority.
Industry - address specific industry needs that are related to the issues buyers are trying to address.
Solution - how do product lines combine/integrate to produce a more comprehensive answer to the issue?
Campaign (theme) - based on the priorities and outcomes the buyer is tasked to achieve.
Customer Segment - focused on addressing the reason for creating the segment - which is whatever the people in the segment have in common.
Job Role - IT buyer, business buyer, economic buyer, end user, etc. The messaging used should be specific to helping that role do their job better with your expertise and offerings. To my mind, this one is a sub-set of customer segment, above.
Do you see how a common thread develops across all six? When you're using the one voice that will resonate with your buyers as a foundation, regardless of which of the 6 focuses you incorporate, your messaging will remain consistent. Consistency is the component that builds credibility and trust. Those factors predicate short listing and purchase decisions.
Consider the importance of unifying your marketing voice in order to sustain engagement over the lengthening buying process:
"New IDC research shows that the average cycle time of creating a new tech B2B customer -- from initial marketing all the way through to a closed deal -- is over 17 months."
If your messaging appears to have a multiple-personality disorder, it's unlikely that you'll make it that far.