MPB2B Takeaway Series #3 – Engaging Prospects with Content

Day two of the MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2010. Fortified with a sausage biscuit and a coffee sweet and light, here we go with another live one, from this morning’s first session “Unleash the Power of Content to Engage Prospects.”

Kicking things off: Stephanie Tilton, Content Marketing Consultant, Ten Ton Marketing

Buying cycles are long and getting longer and there are a lot more people involved in the decision making process. Prospects are bypassing sales until very late in the cycle. The irony is that a lot of time prospects are not finding information they want. Companies who are delivering that content are winning — bigtime.

This puts even more pressure on marketers, as prospects are not engaged with sales reps like they were before. Need to develop content that engages until they’re ready to engage with sales.  David Meerman Scott “Create the kind of online content that your buyers naturally gravitate to.”

How to do this? It’s called Content Marketing.

Book recommendation: “Get Content, Get Customers,” by Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett

On developing a strong content strategy:

You need first to know what your customer’s concerns are. Monitor Twitter, Google Alerts, Google blog search, LinkedIn Groups, etc. for intel. Spend time where they are so you can understand what are their concerns. Then take that information and develop “buyer persona.” That’s an archetype of ideal customer. Talk to anyone who has contact with who you think that person is. Find out as much as you can; what keeps them up at time, what is their role, involvement in buying decision, who do they turn to for advice. What phrases do they search on to find what they are looking for? This information can affect everything, including what the title of your white paper should be. BPs help you keep in mind what ideal customer wants to hear about.

Map the buying process, and understand their content preferences. Do they prefer to receive information via papers (PDF) or video, etc.? Check out the industry research. Then pull it all together in a matrix to identify the buying process. Also make sure you understand current customer’s content needs and address them, as well.

Once this is done you can start to map content, in other wise determine the format, length, theme and buying stage.

Now for: Michele Linn, B2B Content Strategist for Linn Communications.

On getting organized:

Think like a publisher. Set up an editorial calendar. Make sure the ed cal is as long as your customer’s buying process is. Be consistent, commit to your content and map it out (move people through buying cycle, don’t string random pieces of content together).

Create content that is relevant — and valuable. Make sure that each piece has a call to action. Informal audit of white papers found only 12 of 40 reviewed contained call to action. This is your opportunity to move prospect to next stage.

What to create? Competitive comparisons; case studies (shake it up by including implementation best practices). Then repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. A white paper can become a blog post can become a series of Tweets or inspiration for a video. Don’t just publish the same content in different channels. (I call this making brownies from cake ingredients. -.Ed)

Now that you have content, make it easy to find, access and share. Think about the different platforms your audience is using and make sure content is available there. View: CMO Guide to Social Landscape.

About registration pages: If you’re early in the buying process, you want the information to be totally ungated. Later in the buying process, you can begin to ask for information, A-B test pages to see how much information your prospects are willing to give up.

Finally, make sure you can measure the impact of your content. Test it constantly. Change it frequently.

Next up: a case study by Pam O’Neal, VP Marketing at BreakingPoint Systems, Inc. BreakingPoint is a cyber security company, whose customers are cranky IT engineers who don’t trust marketing. To connect, they embraced the cynicism and developed content designed first to align, then to earn the trust of prospects by generating communications that were frank and even self effacing.

Followed by Amy Black, Sr. Marketing Communications Manager, Kadient, Inc.

For sales audience, avoids calling things “White Paper,” which sales finds boring. Calls paper “guide” instead. “New Rules of Sales Enablement,” most downloaded on site. Works to uncover provocative, unique thinking in company. Has moved over to e-book format (still do white papers). Video also has been great for them; they focus on creating attention-grabbing humor: “Confession of a Sales VP,” as well as a series of “Playbooks.”  Kadient also uses a FlipCam at shows; feels more natural, customer talking to peers about how they use “Playbooks.”

Whew!

Q&A (select)

Audience: How do you develop buyer personas? O’Neal: It’s about building relationships first, and run questions from a template Ex. How did you learn about company, what blogs do you read, where do you go to get info to do your job, where do you go for help, problem, approach, solution (case study). A lot of it comes out of relationship building, that’s when you get the meaningful data. Sales is good about passing on anecdotal data, as well. This also will help prioritize the focus, and resources, in order of sales ops.

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