To create engagement with today's B2B buyers, marketers must develop and use relevant and compelling marketing communications and marketing content. There is simply no substitute for relevancy when it comes to establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships with potential buyers.
In an earlier post, I described how to develop buyer personas. Personas enable us to create relevant marketing content because the process of creating personas forces us to develop a deeper understanding of the individual buyers we work with. Personas enable us to identify the issues and problems that our buyers are facing, and this allows us to develop marketing messages and marketing content that speaks directly to those concerns.
Developing content for each buyer persona is essential, but it's also critical to have content that speaks to where the buyer is in the buying process. That's because the kind of information that is most relevant to a buyer changes as he or she moves through the buying cycle.
The key to developing content for each stage of the buying cycle is to put yourself in the buyer's shoes and identify the questions that he or she is likely to have at each stage. Then, you create content that answers those questions.
There are many ways to describe the B2B buying cycle. Ardath Albee, author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale and the Marketing Interactions blog, uses a seven-step framework: Status Quo - Priority Shift - Research - Options - Step Backs - Validation - Choice.
Using Albee's framework, we can identify some of the questions that a buyer is likely to have at each stage of the process.
Status Quo - Why do I need to change? What are the ramifications of not changing? Has something happened in my industry that makes change necessary?
Priority Shift - Can the issue/problem be solved? What are the benefits of addressing the issue/problem? How have my peers and/or competitors dealt with the issue/problem?
Research - What are the alternative ways to address the issue/problem? What are the risks and benefits of the alternative approaches?
Options - What specific solutions should I consider? Which potential solution providers should I include in my short list? What are the features and functionality of each possible solution?
Step Backs - What happens if I don't have the resources to implement the proposed solution? What if I don't have real buy-in from my end users? What if the solution doesn't produce the promised results?
Validation - Why should I trust your company? What is my ROI if I purchase your solution? How can I be sure that the estimated ROI will actually be realized?
As you develop your questions, be as specific as possible, and keep in mind that you will need a separate set of questions for each buyer persona you've identified. This approach will enable you to develop rich and compelling content that will resonate with your buyers.