The Content Marketing – Buyer Disconnect

By Dan Sixsmith
According to a newly published report, there is a serious disconnect between the content that B2B buyers expect from marketers, and what is actually being produced and delivered. In the new study from The Economist Group , 93% of B2B marketers are incorrectly connecting their content to a product or service. Translation: a sales pitch.

Unfortunately, most marketing is not what buyer’s expect - value focused and personalized. Instead, the majority of content marketing is being perceived as one-size-fits-all messaging which is inwardly focused-on the vendors company, team, history, awards, products, features, functions.

The good news: B2B execs still seek out help from solution providers to solve their complex issues and often turn to online content for critical challenge-focused information. The bad news: they are having trouble finding the content they need.

So how do marketers better align their content marketing to what prospective buyers want? A few thoughts to chew on:

It's Not One and Done: A piece of content should not be viewed as a one and done proposition by marketers. The reality is that it typically takes 9 touches just to connect with the prospect, and consumption of 12 pieces of content before a prospect is ready to speak to sales. Your content marketing should be about building a lasting relationship with the prospect, versus trying to close the deal on the first date. You have amassed a treasure trove of valuable content. Delivering the right content to the buyer at the right point in the customer journey is key. View your content much as a publisher - as a step on the way to deeper connections with your audience.

It's Not Me, It's You: Content is best when it focuses on the addressable business challenges you can help the buyer solve, and the business benefits that can be achieved. Prospects favor content that is not a company / product pitch, but focuses on their challenges and positive outcomes, Even though you have every right to be proud of what you market and sell, buyers don’t really care about that. Instead, they care about themselves – the pains they are living and how you can help them. Guy Kawasaki, the former Mac evangelist and current thought leader declared,” Show people how you will make history together. Sell the dream (of a better future), not a product."

The 5S's of Content Marketing - Marketing used to be about the 4P's, now it should be more about the 5S's: storytelling, substance, speed, simplicity and science. Powerful content needs all of these components:
1.   Storytelling – A primitive part of our brains connects with stories, as if we are still sitting around the fire recanting stories of a good hunt or harvest. The story should reflect the essence of the brand and be leveraged to create personalized customer experiences that last beyond the sale and deliver long-term relationships. Everyone loves a story where a hero tangles with and finally defeats a villain. Introduce the antagonist. What is the current challenge out there that needs solving? Describe the pain the prospect is feeling, the magnitude and cause of this problem and then prescribe a cure. How did you save the day? Make it exciting. The brain doesn't pay attention to boring things, according to scientist John Medina.

2.   Substance - The messaging needs align with a buyer challenge, an issue that the marketplace and buyer needs resolved. In some cases, this challenge might be hidden, and the typical buyer might not even know how serious it is. Explain the 'why' before the 'how.' Original content backed by research scores best with audiences. Establish authority and subject matter expertise. A solution in search of a problem carries far less appeal. Customers don't buy products or services, they first buy into solving a significant, priority challenge.

3.   Speed - It is 'short attention span theatre' out there. You have 8 seconds to get and keep a buyers attention so your content needs to get to the point as to what challenges should be addressed and how you will help solve their woes. Content should be fast paced and loaded with excitement. Think simple visuals, contrast and the Elevator Pitch.

4.   Simplicity - The task of leaders is to simplify. Tell the prospect how you will make her life better, the expected value--not about your feeds and speeds. And do it concisely.  Create content about the challenges, loss, opportunity, solution and evidence that can fit on the “back of a napkin”.

5.   Science - Leverage data you have collected about your prospects to create relevant content across all customer touch points. Where is the prospect on his decision journey? What flavor of content should you offer? What do you know about them that can help customize the content to their industry, role and challenges?

The Bottom-Line

There is a tremendous opportunity for marketers to align their content to what today’s buyer expects – personalized and value-focused – and more. effectively connect and engage prospective clients to drive more demand and incremental revenue. The keys? Take a longer-term view of content, center it around business challenges, and leverage the 5S's of content marketing to drive more wins.


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