To smash the proverbial champagne bottle on our new toy, a shiny condenser microphone that had me doing my best “Band Aid” impersonation when it arrived, the folks here at B2Bento have decided to use it immediately in an exclusive interview. So we have selected not one but two (yes two!) of our colleagues and set some questions upon them.
Asuthosh Nair and Santo Thie gleefully stepped up to the plate and yes … they were not harmed in the making of this video. Since they obviously enjoyed tackling those queries on camera because the video ran for more than 30 minutes, we have sliced the entire video into three. Part one delves into a general overview of B2B marketing content.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the video are the personal views of the interviewee and and do not necessarily represent the philosophy or viewpoints of their organization or clients.
(Updated with questions by Anol)
Transcript of the Interview
Asuthosh is the Chief Operating Officer of GetIT Comms while Santo is Program Manager and Team Lead on AV Media. Both of them have fantastic technical insight, experience and expertise as well as having a great handle on B2B marketing content.
B2B marketing content: a bird’s eye view
Asuthosh: I think B2B marketing content is crucial because of the very nature of B2B audiences, which is somewhat different from those in the B2C world. B2B customers or buyers tend to be at various stages of the buying cycle when we are talking to them. So you must have content that addresses their different needs. You also have different decision makers and buying influencers who may not actually make the decision but have a strong role to play in the purchase decision so the kind of content you produce has to appeal to a wide range of audiences.
In a B2C marketing slogan / campaign, a passing customer sees an ad and if they understand and get impressed by it then they might actually head down to the store and buy it. In B2B, buyers are going to take a longer time to make their decision and they will be doing lots of research as well. If we just produce an ad in a newspaper or put a flashing ad on the web, you are not going to be able to hit those groups of customers who have a very prolonged characteristic to their buying patterns. So the more content you produce, the better it will be because it’s going to solidify their research and they will be able to justify their decision to the ultimate person who’s going to sign on the dotted line.
B2B buyers also tend to have a lot more conversations with their peers in terms of evaluating the solutions that they are looking at and in terms of discussing the long term aspects of those solutions like support and so on. There are things that an average B2C customer may not look at thoroughly. In B2B, since the decision and money outlay is much bigger, there’s going to be a lot more discussion in that way.
If you create content you’ve got conversation starters for salespeople. They can then start using this content so that they can get into conversations with their customers. Those are some of the things that show, when it comes to B2B marketing, why content is important.
I would also think that trust is key and good content helps build trust. Paul Dunay spoke about how you need to really drum in the message at least three to five times until people start believing the message. If you’re just going to say it once or twice and conveying those using very trite sentences (which really don’t say much) then your buyers are going to have a tough time believing what you say.
If you produce good content it kind of fortifies the message and the more times you say it (and in different ways too) then the better it would be for them to believe the message. I think it comes down to the nature of the B2B buyers, how it facilitates conversations and how it helps solidify trust which of course has its relation to thought leadership and so on.
Santo: We can’t say that the content is not as important as that in B2C. It’s the same importance and the difference lies in the nature of the content itself. In B2C they try to encourage individuals to buy. In B2B, clients or targets are actually businesses themselves. So it’s not about the end target. And we also have to think about how these businesses can develop their business.
The difference may be on the content that not only pertains to buying but also delves on business development. So you have to help the client to develop their trade in a manner where it would help them sell their business to their own clients. That’s a major difference also in the content between B2B and B2C.
According to your experience, what has worked so far?)
Asuthosh: Storytelling is key to this. We recently wrote about it and discussed three things which matter to a good story. One is that it has to be transmittable which means that you can tell that story over and over without losing much information and impact. So it has to be simple and short like an Aesop fable which everyone understands and the story never gets changed.
It has to be tangible which means that people must be able to take something solid from your content. For example, if it’s a job you did for a customer and they are happy about it they will say “I went with this … I went with you … and I saved 50 million dollars.” Now having a tangible amount would be better than saying “I have productivity gains”, which of course will fly away over everybody’s head because it doesn’t really have a number to it.
The whole thing has to be remarkable. It has to be something that people will be willing to share at a party for example. Definitely something which people can make a point about, build upon and ultimately add on to. It’s about making that aspect of storytelling come true to all the content that you develop.
It’s also important that you pace the cadence of your messaging. Something that’s too frequent becomes spamming and something that is the opposite becomes neglected. Perhaps how you can look at it is how you pace your messaging and how you tell the same thing in different ways so as to capture different audiences. The way some people look at a communication on a Monday will of course be different compared to say looking at it on a Friday. Modify your message accordingly.
If you have finished with the initial steps then you should consider the kind of media through which you can communicate your B2B content. Usual suspects include case studies, video testimonials, white papers, etc. And then you have e-books which everyone is creating right now. In general these are some of the more common ones but there are also some of the more “in vogue” things these days which is using social media channels to create content.
Being current also is key to making your B2B marketing content work well. It has to be able to talk to the particular audience which means that you have to make sure that everything you are sending out is measured. Don’t just post it out there and hope that people will latch onto it. Through constant feedback, make sure that your B2B marketing content is fresh, tangible and useful to the person who is getting it.
Santo: I just want to stress on the re-using or re-purposing of content. When you create the content, you can’t just think about creating one just for a singular purpose. You can make them for different levels of audiences. When you prepare something that is very technical you also have to think that later on you might also be able to use that same content on other things like a business presentation. So you just can’t have a focused target or focused purpose for one content. It has to be flexible and must be re-usable because it’s just the nature of B2B content.
Parts 2 and 3 will follow within a week. Look out for it.