Alanna Jackson is a founding partner at Jackson Marketing, Inc., a marketing firm located in Dunedin, Florida. In addition to her work at Jackson Marketing, Alanna is a co-host of The B2B Mix Show podcast. You can follow Alanna on Twitter at @alanna_jax and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Have you been wondering why you’re not reaching your target customers? Or wondering why your competition is closing deals and you’re not? A lot of it may come down to your content marketing strategy or your lack of a content marketing strategy.

Today’s B2B buyer isn’t looking for your sales team to contact them and tell them how awesome your product/service is and why they should buy it. The way you sell to your prospects has changed with technology. We live in a technology-driven world with so much information at our fingertips. So, most B2B buyers are using technology to make an informed decision on their purchases.

Check out these two jaw-dropping statistics: omg-those-stats-are-mind-boggling

77% of B2B purchasers said that they would not even speak to a salesperson until they had done their own research.” (Hubspot)

Over half (57%) of the selling process is completed for consumers before a company even has a chance to interact with them.” (Hubspot

Content Marketing is a Top Reason Why Buyers Choose a Vendor

As we can gather from the above statistics, your buyers are doing their research online. So, what are you doing to help them make their purchasing decision? If all you have is a website and some social media profiles, then you’re behind in the game.

You need to be offering information to your potential customers that speak to their pain points and offers them useful information that will help them to make an informed decision. A website does provide some insight into your company and your offerings, but it’s mainly about your business. Your audience is interested in your industry beyond just what your organization has to offer. They want to know that you care about and are aware of the obstacles they face and that’s how you will make content marketing work for you.

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(Source: Demand Gen Report – 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report)

The Purchasing Cycle Has Lengthened

The amount of time it takes decision-makers to choose a vendor has increased the purchase cycle timeline. Let’s take a look at why the purchase cycle is lengthening. According to the 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report, it comes down to these three reasons.

  1. “Buyers conduct more detailed ROI analysis before a purchase”
  2. “The number of people – especially executives – who participate in the B2B buying process has increased”
  3. “AS the solution marketplace continues to expand, buyers spend more time conducting research and use more sources to investigate purchases”

(Source: Demand Gen Report – 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report)

Each of these reasons illustrates why you need to have a strong content marketing strategy. You need to be providing information to your buyers that is engaging and provides them with the knowledge they’re looking for while trying to make a decision. Those involved in the buying process are online searching for content that grabs their attention and speaks to their needs. If you’re not giving them what they want, they are moving on to your competitors. Don’t miss opportunities to increase your bottom line. You know what your customer’s needs are and they want you to provide content that speaks to these requirements so that they can learn more about your company and decide if you’re a good fit with their business.

Create Trust with the Buyer

Some of you may be thinking, ” I have a website. That’s legit, and it gives all kinds of information about my company.” Unfortunately, your prospects don’t care all about your company. They want to know that your organization knows the industry and has some information to back that up. It comes down to people trust people. Don’t get fooled into thinking that you can get by with just the basics and that you only need to share on social from your company profiles. If you think that’s how you’re going to grow, you’re living in a fool’s paradise. You need to be generating content that your employees and executives can share on social platforms. Let’s take a look at how much trust plays a part in the buyer’s journey.

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(Source: 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer)

As you can see from the above, trust does matter! You need to find ways to build trust with your audience and with your prospective buyers. Remember, people trust the people they know and are more prone to buy from people they trust. Here are some tips to creating trust with your buyers and overall audience.

  • Thought Leadership – Write blogs that are authored by people in your company, especially company leaders. Publish them on your company blog or LinkedIn’s blogging platform. You need to have thought leaders in your business writing about your industry and speaking to the needs and desires of your prospective buyers.
  • Case Studies – Create case studies that show how your product/service has improved your customers ROI and improved their processes. It is recommended to use your customers name if they agree to it.
  • Employee Advocacy – Your employees are your best asset. Provide content to your staff that they can easily share on their social profiles. The below image from the Edelman Trust Barometer shows just how important it is to have an employee advocacy program. Your employees are the ones that create the trust with your company.

Maybe you need a little more proof that your employees are one of your biggest assets? If so, here’s some information from the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer.

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(Source: 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer)

Relevant Content Matters

There are all sorts of content that you can churn out to your audience, but make sure you’re providing relatable content. As you can see in the chart above, B2B buyers want to see content that helps them to see ROI or that helps them to build their case for the purchase. So, what kind of content does that mean?

While factors like easy access to pricing and search and navigation tools are important, respondents said the single most influential aspect of any vendor’s website is “relevant content that speaks directly to [my] company.” In fact, 69% said it was “very important,” while 27% said it was “somewhat important.” (Source: Demand Gen Report – 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report)

Your potential customers want relevant content. In fact, that’s the most important thing a vendor looks for when they visit your website during the research phase of the buyer’s journey. So, give the people what they want! Give them content they can review to help them make an informed buying decision. You have a better chance at winning new customers if you can connect with them through your content.

2016-11-05_1236Content that Creates Conversions

Let’s take a look at what the most effective B2B tactics are in generating more leads. It should come as no surprise that in-person events are the number one tactic used. Like we’ve been discussing person to person relationships is the biggest factor in increasing your overall bottom line. But maybe your company can’t afford to attend a lot of in-person events to develop those relationships. No worries…that’s where a great content marketing strategy comes into play. Be aware of your audience, and it’s needs.

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Maybe you don’t have the bandwidth to create content in various formats on a regular basis. Start off choosing one of these types of content and build your content strategy from there.

For example, you can host a webinar with one of your partners or customers. Record the webinar, and now you have a piece of content that you can make gated. So, when someone downloads the webinar, they will provide their information that you can store in your CRM or marketing automation platform. But it doesn’t have to end there! You can then turn your webinar into a Slideshare, create short and long blog posts from it, etc. Use that webinar as “Big Rock” content and build off of it for a quarterly content marketing strategy.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel with each new piece of content you create. Reuse and repurpose your content as long as the information is still relevant. The point is to create content that your buyers have access to so that they can conduct their research during the buying process. Incorporating Evergreen content into your strategy is also a very good idea because it’s not tied to a time-bound event and is always relevant.

Implementing a content strategy is essential if you want to be a part of your prospects buying journey. Make sure you have a plan in place with content that is relevant to your customers and distribute it in multiple ways including an employee advocacy program. If you don’t have the resources to get something going on your own, then consider outsourcing it. Contact us if you need help creating, distributing, and promoting your content.

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