Boost Opportunities with the 3 Keys to Becoming an
A firm handshake and a Rolodex of golden contacts might have helped 10 years ago, but the fact is that content needs to be the new goldenboy of your salesforce. Great content answers your customers’ questions; creates a positive impression for your brand; works 24/7; speaks all of your customers’ languages, and invites trust, loyalty, leads, and even new revenue opportunities.
When you stop thinking about it as a checkbox and start thinking of content as a strategic asset, everything changes.
My college professor used to say it’s always better to show than tell. So, how can your organization pivot to maximize its website? Let’s take a look…
The success of platforms like Amazon created a narrative that a great e-commerce experience is enough. But, in B2B tech industries a sales transaction can take a long time–years in some circumstances. I don’t think Jeff Bezos has to deal with a customer journey that lasts longer than most smartphones.
The truth is that your prospective customers are going to be doing a fair amount of independent research before reaching out to vendors. So, it’s never been more important to have the right content ready and waiting for them.
B2B organizations with the best interests of its customers in mind act as a “knowledge guide,” providing valuable information and a welcoming experience for all stages of the buyer’s journey. Offering information builds rapport, allowing prospective customers to trust your brand.
There are many permutations of the buyer’s journey out there, but let’s move forward with this basic framework: Awareness. Education. Consideration. Purchase. Replace/Upgrade.
As prospective customers dip a toe into the ocean of information out there, get the word out to that your brand “gets it” and is chock full of information to help with their research. Pique their interest without asking for too much in return.
- Brand videos
- Short-form content (blogs, etc.)
- High-level industry information
- Native ads
- Social media (company updates, engineer spotlights, industry news sharing, engagement prompts, etc.)
Use every tool at your disposal to make good on the promise you made in the Awareness phase on being a one-stop-shop for information. Prove you not only understand engineer’s challenges and the world they live in, but that you have the tools they need.
- Email (Industry news, responses to trade publication articles, technology spotlights, etc.)
- Long/short form content (white papers, blogs, etc.)
- Application videos
- Data sheets
- Forum discussion/Q&A
If you’re relying on price to win contracts, your messaging isn’t pulling its weight. It’s critical to drive home that your brand is the right choice.
- Case studies
- Email (industry awards, promotions/discounts, competitive differentiators, etc.)
- Sales support materials
- Service/support packages
Now that you have a shiny new customer, it’s important to reciprocate and make good on their commitment to your organization. This solidifies trust and paves the way for a long-term customer.
- Email (thank you follow-ups, tech tips, personalized messages from account manager, etc.)
- Training materials
- DIY articles
- Application articles
This is a golden opportunity to show that you are committed to solving customer problems. Prepare customers for a smooth transition to replace or upgrade equipment as hardware approaches its end-of-life.
- Email (reminders, “new tech” updates, etc.)
- Service renewals notifications
- Industry “insider” content
Up on the Scene
Just like your aunt’s Facebook page that hasn’t been updated since 2005, nobody wants to visit a crusty, stale website. Attendance is important. Even short blogs posted regularly can do wonders.
A work smarter mindset helps with resources limitations for creating fresh content. It’s okay to repost evergreen annually, and another trick is to apply a quick layer of fresh paint on old content to recycle existing articles. For example, bring a few popular articles to your internal experts. Ask if there are any changes (updated statistics, research, regulations, graphics, etc.) the articles could benefit from. After some quick editing, you have new content that you know will attract attention. Research shows that engineers trust content coming from fellow engineers. Try to leverage internal SMEs as authors or editors whenever possible, and be sure to attribute a byline for an extra boost.
Don’t be afraid to share or link to content from outside of your organization. Using trade publications, regulatory bodies, or even the local news as inspiration for content is a great way to keep content fresh without pounding on your chest too much.
On the Same Page
This goes back to the buyer’s journey, but it’s worth repeating that what you put out in the world should have it’s audience in mind. Don’t get sucked into the internal “rah rah” too much; be aware of how your brand is perceived by its customers. For example, if your organization thinks of itself as a top tier, high quality product, its reputation among engineers might be that it’s expensive. That’s a huge difference. Content can help address negative perceptions and flip the script.
BONUS: Acronyms to Live By
It’s important to not only create high-value content for your customers, but to put your content in a position to succeed. Otherwise, all the wisdom you’re imparting may fall on an empty audience.
Keep It Simple, Stupid. Even in tech-heavy and scientific fields, it rarely pays to use words more than two syllables. You aren’t publishing a dissertation, you’re trying to communicate simplicity and solutions to very busy, distracted customers. Your customers’ time is precious. Short-form, easily consumed, and to the point is the way to go.
Search engine marketing (SEM) changes on a dime. Google is constantly changing the rules, and pay-per-click (PPC) has shaken up our reliance on search engine optimization (SEO) as the most important online strategy. PPC helps organizations jump to the front of the search engine line, giving it an instant advantage over content by snagging up vital page-one real estate. But, SEO is a great way to target specific industry terms to build online presence. Equally important is the keyword research that comes with SEO, which will help you “talk the talk” of your customers.
You can read poetry, buy flowers, and stand in the rain, but if you don’t ask for a date chances are you’ll be working through your Netflix catalog solo on Saturday night. A strong, clear call to action (C2A) is proven to help convert. Ask for the “sale,” (i.e. a click, download, email registration, etc.) and be sure to do plenty of A/B testing whenever possible to discover which C2A works best.