Friday, August 20, 2010

Basic Content Marketing Trumps Social Media and Blogs

Although a lot of attention is being paid by B2B marketers to Social Media and Blogs as a way to connect with and engage prospective buyers, research by IDG and MarketingSherpa indicate that more traditional promotional and research oriented content marketing is more effective.

Surveying buyers and B2B marketers about specific factors that motivate recipients to opt-in, open and engage with vendors, MarketingSherpa and IDG show that Social Media and blog content lag considerably behind other marketing tools, particularly promotional and education content, tutorials / demos, competitive comparisons and buying guides, free research reports and peer best practice / benchmarking tools.

By what percentage does each of the following offer types increase the likelihood of link to additional information and insight being clicked on:

Driven by austerity and information overload, today’s frugal buyers are looking for high value communications, those that can help them cut through the clutter of options, better understand issues and opportunities, discover best practices, save money, improve the bottom-line and gain a competitive edge. Frugalnomics reigns, and marketers realize they need to make a clear connection with buyers needs and add value to each communication if they expect a connection / response.

Reviewing this research and delivering advice on the six habits of highly effective marketers, “Done right, you can leverage powerful Internet tools to attract pre-interested and pre-motivated prospects that are ready to buy and start a business relationship with you.” States Eric Tsai,Web Strategist / Marketing Coach. “Not only will you be perceived as an influential authority but you will gain credibility and trust without having to convince people to buy your product.”

Too often, product focused markets deluge customers with solution information without asking prospects what they “think they want” that can solve their problems and as a result, the prospect connection is not made. “Imagine a doctor telling you what’s wrong with you by just looking at you from a distance” Posits Mr. Tasai, “Even if the doctor has the correct diagnose, would you trust their advice? Great marketers know that they don’t know what they don’t know. They ask questions and dig deeper below the surface to identity the pain, urgency and frustration of their customers.” Traditional Product Selling just doesn't work anymore.

Leading B2B marketers have recognized this issue, and many have evolved their legacy product focus approach to Solution Selling, creating a dialogue for prospects to communicate their issues, and attempting to align solutions with pain points.

However, we find that the new era of Frugalnomics has created a fundamental change, and that the Solution Selling approach is struggling in the face of too much information and too few customer resources to understand pain points.

Today’s buyers are looking for advice from vendors on what opportunities exist and what issues to solve – they need help identifying the problems to solve, not just what solutions to consider.

The Bottom-Line
Our recommendation to Fight Frugalnomics is to move from Solution Selling to Value Selling, providing research and tools that help customers early in the buying lifecycle to diagnose and prioritize opportunities and issues. Two Alinean recommendations to implement Value Selling and drive consultative diagnosis:

Executive Assessment Tools, which survey customers on current practices and compare against best practices / peers to uncover best practices which have not yet been implemented and prioritize these versus goals and competitive advantage. For example, the B2B solution provider could provide an on-line self service tool to survey prospects on their current IT security practices against known best practices to uncover potential risk areas and determine a roadmap for improvement. The tool would not only recommend solutions to solve the issues, but more importantly identify key issues the customer didn’t even know they had.

Benchmarking Tools, to assess current spending and process efficiencies and effectiveness, comparing against peers and leaders to help uncover opportunities for savings / improvements. For example, a B2B vendor could survey a customer via an on-line self service tool on their current customer service metrics and performance, uncovering potential issues in call frequency, escalation rates, time per call or satisfaction by benchmarking the metrics vs. leaders and best practices.

Additional advice can be found at: The Six Habits of Highly Effective Marketers by Eric Tsai, Web Strategist / Marketing Coach: http://designdamage.com/blog/index.php/201008/the-6-habits-of-highly-effective-marketers/

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