Tuesday, June 22, 2010

“Information Overload” Biggest Change Agent for Marketing in Next Decade?

In a recent article on the 10th anniversary of B2B magazine, marketing leaders were asked to look back on the past 10 years and reflect on the biggest changes in B2B marketing. Experts discussed the strategic rise of the CMO, digital marketing and the rise of on-line spending, and advancements from technologies such as search, online video, social media, and analytics.
This got me thinking. What will the biggest change agent be over the next 10 years?

In the time it took me to read the B2B article, I received 15 unsolicited marketing e-mails, 3 tele-marketing calls, and 2 dozen tweets - none of which were of interest or relevance to me. And it dawned on me that this is the greatest challenge for the next 10 years– Information Overload.

Seems like this same challenge is dawning on others as well. Christa Carone, CMO of Xerox Corp in her Direct Marketing Association’s Digital Marketing Days keynote indicates that “Xerox is faced with the same challenges as every other company, which is cutting through the clutter in a world of information overload.” The challenge according to Ms. Carone is that “Marketers must “break through the barrier” of simple personalized communications into more relevant one-to-one interactions with customers.”

But how can this be accomplished easily and where to start?

One of the best ways we have found to connect with customers one-on-one is through interactive white papers. These interactive white papers ask a few simple profile and opportunity questions, and then intelligently combine qualitative content such as relevant situational analysis, case studies and next steps with personalized quantitative savings and value assessment– all to create completely relevant and compelling content for the buyer. The results – interactive white papers are more than 65% more effective than their static counterpart at attracting qualified leads and speeding up the sales process.

The basic white paper is still one of the most important pieces of marketing content, used and trusted as the key buying decision tool by over 65% of early stage buyers, and 61% of middle stage buyers according to relevancy and buying cycle research by SiriusDecisions (May 2010). Other marketing tools such as peer referrals, webinars, e-mails, user events, analyst reports and case studies all lag considerably in early and middle stages of the buying cycle.

The good news is that most organizations have invested heavily in white paper content that is of great value to most customers. The bad news, is that in a world of information overload, these white papers are getting lost and are not deemed relevant to today's frugal buyer. Its no longer good enough to have a one size fits all approach to white paper content.

Why not? Ever get a white paper from a company only to find it didn’t speak to your needs:

  • You’re in financial services, yet all the case studies in the white paper are about manufacturers.
  • You’re a local government, yet the white paper is talking about revenue drivers.
  • You’re a small business, and the contents all about enterprise systems management.
  • You’re located in the UK, yet every case study is from the US, and savings figures are in US dollars.

What-if you could automatically produce for each prospect, based on company profile and unique opportunity, a completely customized, personalized and relevant white paper – customizing both qualitative and quantitative content to reflect each buyers unique situation?

Some profile criteria that are typically used to tune white paper content to be relevant, personalized and specific:

  • Industry
  • Location
  • Organization's Size
  • Role in organization
  • Role in buying cycle
  • Stage in buying cycle

To go beyond profile customization, the interactive white paper could include additional questions, analyzing and diagnosing specific opportunities and issues and driving quantitative and quantitative content based on these responses. Such additional content personalization questions could include:

  • Top goals and desired outcomes
  • Top issues and pain points
  • Current practices (with intelligent diagnosis in the tool of which ones are most behind the times)
  • Current spending (with intelligent diagnosis of how solutions could be used to generate savings)
According to Ms. Carone, “Despite the flood of media messages, people remember little more than one-tenth of 1% of them,” she said. “As marketers, it’s important that we don’t take our eyes off the ultimate prize...... The key is relevant communications: the right messages via the right media at the right time.”

As white papers reign important in buying decision cycles, we have found that interactive white papers can leverage and turbo-charge existing white paper content, and provide ideas for new connections - breaking through the information overload with relevance and personalization.

As information overload increasingly becomes the challenge for marketers over this next decade, the interactive white paper becomes one of several key tools to help break through the clutter and connect with buyers.

Interactive White Paper Examples

Some examples of Alinean interactive white papers can be found at:

http://florluat01.alinean.com/zde_uat/AMD/launch.html

http://florluat01.alinean.com/zde_uat/whitepaper/launch.html

http://florluat01.alinean.com/akor_uat/launch.html

References:
Xerox CMO Carone stresses need for more relevant marketing, BtoB Magazine, Christopher Hosford
Story posted: June 15, 2010 to http://www.btobonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100615/FREE/100619932/1001#seenit

SiriusDecisions survey examines trusted b2b sources
http://www.btobonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100524/FREE/305199999/1371/leadgenguide



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