Less is more in B2B marketing content
How do you convert LEAD to DEAL in 4 moves?
Looks like a question from a school entrance paper or from the puzzle section of the Daily Telegraph. Actually I have been working on that problem for both 10 minutes and for 20 years. I have spent the former trying it as a puzzle, but failed miserably. For the latter, I have been focused on turning a sales lead into a closed deal for most of my career.
I don't have any brilliant insight beyond the undeniable fact that a thorough understanding of the buying behaviour and the patterns of your target audience is essential. That sounds pretty simple but in a B2B context it can be relatively complex. For buying decisions over a certain threshold, you can be sure that multiple personas will be involved: researchers, influencers, decision makers etc. Clearly they have different needs and requirements throughout the buying cycle and marketers need to provide the right information at the right time and in the right context.
However it isn't as clear cut as that, as the personas can change role throughout the buying cycle, and so the decision maker may be a researcher at some points of the cycle for example. Then you have the natural proclivities of the persona. Are they centered with a bias for the technical, for business or are they a hybrid? The marketer effectively needs to cater for all these permutations. What that often begets therefore is a plethora of content, created to hopefully cover all eventualities. Usually the content isn't linked in any meaningful way and there is little understanding of the buyer's cycle - where the particular prospect or customer is on that journey. In my experience, the majority of B2B companies produce way too much content. In the absence of not knowing too much about the buying patterns and stages of the buyer's journey, shoving content their way seems a good idea in the hope that some of it will stick. It's all a bit "spray and pray".
Fortunately sophistication is arriving in force to B2B marketing. Marketing information systems, analytics engines and nurturing systems are transforming what can be understood about the buyer's journey and most marketing organisations are implementing some sort of framework to better target their programs and campaigns.
It may take way more than 4 moves to turn a LEAD into a DEAL, indeed, some analysis I did at a previous company showed that the average number of interactions with "Marketing" for a $1m+ deal was 21. However, if you understand more about the buyer's journey you will be able to cut down on the amount of content you generate. What you do produce, can be tied together coherently to match that journey, and delivered in the right vehicles appropriate for that stage, for the technical/business bias of the persona and their role in the buying process. As is often the case, less is more.