Creating Relevant B2B Marketing Content: Walk the Talk

There is plenty of advice out there about engaging B2B and industrial buyers with relevant marketing content at every stage of the buying cycle. That is pretty much the mantra of B2B content marketing.

Transforming that concept into an actionable reality is a very different story. Nothing happens until your site visitors and blog readers take some kind of an action after reading your content. In other words, it is time to walk the talk!

Personas do matter in B2B content marketing

You would be wasting your scarce resources if you pumped out marketing content without first having a clear and complete understanding of the personas of your B2B buyers. Even if you have carefully segmented your target audience by demographics, different people within the same company can and do react differently to your content. And they use different sources to get their information. The chart below from a research study done by Forrester illustrates this point very clearly. Read more

Shortening the Industrial Buy Cycle in 5 Simple Steps

The other day I read an interesting article titled “5 Steps To Shorten The B2B Buying Cycle” by Kerry Spellman, Client Relationship Manager at iProspect. Even though her article is about the B2B buy cycle in general, it is a perfect follow up to my earlier post “Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle.”

The most frequent complaint that I have heard in the past year from my industrial clients is that their sales cycle has become longer, more complex and increasingly difficult to get on the buyer’s radar screen until it is too late. Any help that I can provide to my clients to alleviate the problem is greatly appreciated and rewarding for my business.

That’s precisely why Kerry’s article caught my attention. She has focused on identifying the problem and providing a 5-step solution to shorten the buy cycle. I have summarized here my takeaways on her five steps.

What is the key to shortening the buy cycle?

Read more

How Lack of Marketing Content Can Derail Your Website Redesign Project

What comes first – site content or site design? In the words of Jeffrey Zeldman, the renowned web designer, blogger, independent publisher and the king of Web standards according to Business Week, “Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”

Are you involved in or responsible for redesigning your company’s website? Is your website redesign project on hold waiting for marketing to deliver content? If so, you know the frustration.

It doesn’t matter whether you work for a corporate marketing department or the owner of a small business website. You spend countless hours, weeks and months working with the site designers developing site maps, wireframes and mock ups – but content? It is relegated to the bottom of the totem pole of deliverables. As a result, your dream web redesign project comes to a screeching halt. Read more

Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle

B2B marketers agree that lead generation and nurturing campaigns must deliver relevant content to their target audience to be successful. Typically, that means understanding the prospect’s pain and then offering a solution for relief.

Sounds simple, right? But not easy to execute because there usually is a disconnect between what your prospect wants to hear and what you want to say about your company and its products and services.

The problem becomes more acute for the industrial sector because the industrial buy cycle can be a long and complex process that often involves multiple decision makers. Without a clear understanding of the stages, it is difficult to align your marketing content with your customer’s decision-making process.

Industrial Buy Cycle White PaperI downloaded a white paper called “Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers’ Buying Process” from GlobalSpec that has done a very good job of explaining the four stages of the industrial buy cycle and how to match your marketing content to each stage.

The white paper has deconstructed the complex industrial buy cycle into four distinct stages that the buyer systematically goes through. The stages are: Read more

How to Use a B2B Blog to Win Customers and Influence Prospects

I admit my headline is a play on Dale Carnegie’s bestseller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This timeless classic, one of the first bestselling self-help books published in 1937 and sold over 15 million copies globally is still relevant today.

As a B2B marketer, we want to reach our ideal prospects and communicate with customers to maintain top-of-mind awareness throughout their buying cycle. A B2B blog is the perfect online tool to accomplish that.

If you are still not sure about the benefits of using a business blog, head over to HubSpot and read these articles:

Assuming you are now convinced and have your own B2B blog, here are six basic steps for making it the hub of your online presence to win customers and influence prospects. Read more

Top 10 Clichés to Avoid in B2B Marketing Content

You can find plenty of clichés used (overused?) in B2B marketing content. Do they really communicate better with our audience or are we as copywriters/content creators just being lazy? I know I have been guilty on more than one occasion of using popular clichés in my business marketing communications.

I found a Squidoo lens by Seth Godin where he talks about why we tend to use clichés or buzzwords. According to him, “…the vast majority of buzzwords exist for one reason: to hide.” He goes on to list his top ten and invites his readers to add their own to the list.

Here are the top ten business clichés from Seth’s list:

  1. Win-win situation
  2. Thinking outside of the box
  3. Giving 110%
  4. Best Practices
  5. Synergy
  6. Paradigm Shift
    Read more

7 Strategies for Using Content to Market Industrial Products

I am a big fan of Content Marketing or as some people like to refer to it as Inbound Marketing. It is heartening to see that content is at the center of most discussions about the state of B2B marketing today.

However, industrial marketers face a challenge when it comes to producing a steady stream of fresh content to keep their target audience engaged. What do you do when the bulk of your marketing content, with the exception of case studies is product focused? How do you shift the focus from you or your company to your prospects and customers?

Here are seven content marketing strategies that you can use to engage your prospects and move them forward in their buying cycle. Read more

Survey Finds Growth in Pipelines and Sales Cycles for B2B Lead Generation

I recently read a news release put out by Infogroup on their SalesPulse Survey of B2B sales professionals conducted jointly with OneSource, an Infogroup company. Some of the findings match what I am hearing from my industrial clients and one really surprising result.

The top findings I got out of the release were:

  1. 47% of the sales professionals reported a slight increase in the size of their B2B pipelines this year as compared to last year. However, the sales cycles have also become longer, making it much harder to close deals.

    This agrees with what I am hearing from my engineering and industrial clients, they are seeing a lot more activity but the average sales cycle has grown by an additional 90 ~ 120 days. Because of longer sales cycles, more promising opportunities are being lost since business conditions change at the other end and projects are put on hold indefinitely or being eliminated.

  2. Read more

Using Content to Move Prospects Forward in the Sales Cycle

We often think of online content as the text on a web or blog page. The focus there is to optimize it for keywords or phrases for people to find your website when searching for relevant terms. That however is only part of the solution because if your content doesn’t engage the visitor s/he won’t take a desired action to move forward in the sales cycle.

Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc. said it best when she wrote, “Passive reading of your content is not going to help online marketing initiatives shorten buying cycles or increase customer acquisition and revenues.”

Your online content needs to play a much more active role in moving site visitors along in his/her buy decision. According to Bob Carrigan, CEO of International Data Group, “It [content] fulfills the promise of the Web, which is relationship marketing.”

Using content or Inbound Marketing, you are able to make that key connection with your prospects by delivering specific content needed in order to make an informed decision. Read more

7 “Rs” for B2B Marketing Content Planning

[This is a guest post by Ardath Albee and is a great follow up to my earlier post, Focus on Content in B2B Marketing and my own 5Rs for creating content]

Content is the fuel for eMarketing. With a majority of marketing efforts going digital, that means even more content is needed. The instant gratification mindset of B2B content consumers means they’re demanding more content, faster. Not just any content, but ideas, information and expertise they find relevant and helpful for answering questions they have about problems they’re trying to solve.

Designing content for 1X use is wasteful. Marketers need to create a process for content planning that helps them maximize the return from their investments in developing the content resources that fuel their online marketing programs.

To get the most from your content, embrace the 7 “R”s of B2B Marketing Content Planning:

  1. Re-use – ideas for content development must be expanded to create multiple assets. See my post Rule of 5 for B2B content development. Additionally, when marketers create a nurturing program across the buying process, each new lead should start at the beginning of the program with touch 1. By feeding new leads into the beginning of a program (instead of just adding them to the list for the next send) you’ll get much more use out of your nurturing program content and tell your leads a consistent story at the same time. Read more