A strong content marketing strategy should always keep the customer top of mind -- but what about when “the customer” is made up of several different people?
In B2B environments, a purchase within an individual account may have to be discussed, considered and approved by stakeholders from multiple departments or lines of business, all with their own priorities, biases and busy schedules. The big challenge for many brands is then delivering messages that can appeal to all the necessary players in ways that add up to a coherent whole from a marketing perspective.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) in particular may feel like throwing up their hands in defeat before they even get started. After all, they may have limited time and budgets to develop content marketing assets in the first place. Wouldn’t it be easier to think of “the customer” as the entire organization you’re trying to persuade?
As the most successful firms know, however, marketing resonates -- and converts -- most often when it is personalized and contextualized in more of a one-on-one fashion. That’s one of the biggest benefits of marketing automation platforms like Marketing Cloud: to not only make marketing processes easier but to gather rich data that makes those processes more effective.
There are lots of ways you can slice and dice that data to take a more granular approach to content marketing, such as the size of the customer or the vertical market in which it operates. For the purposes of this post we’re going to look at role-based content marketing, where you develop assets with someone overseeing a specific function in the business as the intended target audience.
Does your buying team include the chief financial officer (CFO)? There are bound to be several magazines, blogs and newsletters produced by independent publishers who serve that audience directly. The same goes for those in a customer account who works in IT, operations and (yes) sales and marketing.
Look at these publications’ sites and you’ll often come across their “Editor’s pick,” or the feature story they feel is destined to be most popular with readers. Or there might be a list on the homepage of the most-visited or most-shared articles over the course of a month or week. Read these stories and look for the themes that seem to be of greatest interest for that target audience.
Then, you have two choices. One is to develop original assets of your own such as blog posts, white papers and infographics that incorporate some of the same themes -- maybe even linking back to the source of your inspiration to show the connection with highly respected or reputable industry publications.
The other option is to look at your existing inventory of content marketing assets and see how you might update them based on the themes that are tracking with those audiences. In some cases it might be small tweaks, such as adding more commonly-used professional terms in your copy. In other cases you might want to redo entire sections so they address the kinds of pain points or issues that reflect what else is being published out there.
Try this experiment with one of the most common roles in your customers’ buying teams and see how it goes before you try the same thing for another role.
Everyone likes high-quality content, but the format you choose to deliver the message might need to take into consideration how someone with a particular job title tends to be involved in purchasing decisions, and the level of education they need.
If your buying team tends to include the CEO, for instance, what will she or he need to know, and how much time will she or he take to learn it? A spec sheet that breaks down you firm’s offering vs. the competitors may work later in the funnel, while an infographic that gives them everything they need at a glance might work better earlier on.
For those in more technical roles like IT, a white paper could provide them the comprehensive deep-dive that answers their biggest questions. An in-house lawyer might want to look at a case study of a firm in the same industry -- or they might want to hear the details on a downloadable podcast as they drive to their next meeting.
If working with such a diverse range of format sounds too onerous, consider role-based versions of your existing email newsletter, curating blog posts and other resources with brief annotations that call out why they’re valuable to someone in a specific functional role, or the section they should scroll to first.
The point of all this is not to encourage siloed ways of thinking or working within your account buying teams. Instead, great content marketing not only represents the interests and concerns of those with a particular job title but helps them align what they’re doing with their counterparts in other lines of business, making the organization more successful overall.
Think of a finance person within your target customer, who might have found it challenging to work with the IT department to get products deployed to their team. The content marketing assets they see should not only address finance-related issues but give them insight that makes their relationship with IT more successful. It could be as simple as a checklist of “Top Questions Your IT Manager Will Ask.” Then, when the buying team comes together to hear your company’s pitch or consider making a purchase, the various roles within the account buying team are all on the same page.
The more you can refine content marketing assets to different audiences, the more they’ll feel your organization recognizes who they are and what they need. That, in turn, builds more credibility and appreciation for your brand, which means the next content you put in front of them and track through Marketing Cloud will be all the more persuasive.