Send Your Marketing Content to Med School


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Much too often I hear B2B marketers say that their prospects already know they need the solutions their company sells. Quite frankly, if every prospect in your database isn’t beating a path to your door—check in hand—this belief is a costly delusion.

Face facts. You know too much.

Just as you know all the reasons why purchasing your solution should be a no-brainer, that without your solution, your prospects will struggle longer and unnecessarily to attain the business objectives they desire, they don’t see it that way.

Nope. Your prospects are hunkered down in their situations, dealing with their reality. From their perspective, the workaround that employees are grumbling about is getting the job done. They’re eyeing that new compliance requirement, trying to modify existing processes to address it as efficiently as possible. They may not even realize that this is an issue that could be addressed more productively with outside intervention.

The truth is that most of your prospects just aren’t prepared to discover another way. They need help diagnosing issues and framing resolutions that deliver more value to the company than the way they’ve always done things.

Ultimately, this means B2B marketers need to create Diagnostic Content for the pre-buying stages. Yep, that’s right. You need to provoke ideation and motivate the desire to change. Marketing content needs to start before prospects raise their hands, prompting them to recognize that there is value in further exploration.

Diagnostic Content addresses:

  • What: Issue Identification
    Develop content that points to the causes of issues your prospect may be dealing with. Why don’t they see the issue as a priority to resolve? What would make them recognize that the current situation is an obstacle to results worth eliminating? Issue identification is about helping prospects reach that “Aha” moment that catches their attention and motivates them to want to learn more. Issue identification is where you can plant the seeds of dissatisfaction with current situations, but also provide hope that there’s a better way. Think carrot, not stick.
  • How: Paths to Improvement
    Once you’ve helped them identify an issue, you need to help them see a path to addressing it. If you’re hoping they’ll figure it out on their own, you’ve missed the point. Your prospects are busy, overworked and short on time. The simpler you can make it, the more likely they’ll follow the content bread crumbs you place before them. But, simple is not effective without clarity and recognizable value. Your path to improvement must have all of those facets. Connect the dots by making next steps easy to take. Expect huge leaps and your content marketing will need emergency resusitation. Perception of the effort required to engage with your ideas can either improve the health of your relationship with prospects or kill their momentum.
  • Why: Value Quantification
    You must show them how they gain more value with your solution than they can achieve without you, and it cannot be unrealistic. In fact, the more specific you can make it, the more personalized to their specific situation, the better your chances. Remember to match the value to your prospect’s objectives. Giving a line-of-business manager financial information valuable to a CIO—while needed for a business case—may lose the attention of the manager who’s goal is to reduce a process cycle time from 2 months to 2 days. Relevance rules!
  • When: Now vs. Later
    There is a big difference between a “maybe someday” solution and an “I need it now or the world will implode” solution. In today’s restained economic environment, you need to help your prospect get to that second conclusion. Urgency must be a factor in diagnostic marketing content. Is your marketing content prescribing chicken soup for the common cold or the antidote to a terminal disease? [Okay – a bit dramatic, but it’s all in the positioning.]

Prospects have changed. IDC’s 2010 Customer Experience Survey found that vendor content was the most highly influential component of the pre-purchase decision-making process for IT purchasers. Marketing Sherpa finds that 78% of B2B marketers say generating high quality leads is their biggest challenge.

Get infront of your prospects earlier by creating diagnostic content that helps them identify issues, choose a path to improvement and quantify the value specific to their needs. Helping them to recognize it’s critical to diagnose and solve the problem now, rather than later will aid in the development of those high quality leads B2B marketers need in their pipelines.

In order to create truly relevant diagnostic content, you need to forget all the stuff you know and put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Marketers tend to start too far down the road when developing marketing content. Back it up and help your prospects diagnose their issues by sending your marketing content to med school.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and the CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create and use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Ardath is the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She's also an in-demand industry speaker.


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