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In a previous post, I shared a four-step process for creating in-depth B2B buyer personas. In this post, I’ll discuss how the details of a buyer persona inform a content marketing strategy.

With the wealth of information gained during the process of determining buyer personas, you can now create the nine components for each persona.

9 Components of a B2B Buyer Persona 1. A Day in the Life

As the title suggests, this element gives a narrative snapshot of a day in the life of your B2B buyer persona. It’s written in the first person as if they are talking to you. The first person perspective brings the persona up close, making them more reachable.

Consider the difference between these two descriptions:

Version 1

Sally is the VP of Finance at the organization, in charge of 18 direct reports across multiple divisions that manage the financial health of the organization. Meetings take up much of her time. Her goals are to improve financial transparency and to increase efficiency in data utilization to prioritize key decisions that help the organization run profitably. She wants to be able to use a tool that will allow her to identify issues for a department and provide guidance on actions to take. The untimely, static reports she uses today create inefficiencies that keep her division from meeting its goals.

Version 2

As VP of Finance for my company, most of my time is spent in status meetings with my direct reports. It can be like herding cats because our financial information is so hard to use. I feel like I’m never able to get ahead given the volume of transactions and the difficulty of getting information that allows me to be proactive, rather than reactive. My direct reports need better, more timely guidance. And I worry that my CFO sees me as overwhelmed, rather than as a leader. I need to be able to move faster, access data in real time and ensure the decisions I make are based on accurate information.

Which one of these inspires you more? I’m guessing it’s the second one. First person allows you to see Sally’s personality. And, you’ll find that speaking to her will be relevant to many in the target audience because her story is based on the commonalities discovered during the persona creation process.

“A Day in the Life” establishes a shared view of the customer across the organization. It also enables content creators to step into the persona’s shoes when the time comes to develop content or ideate programs designed to engage her.

2. Objectives

This section can also be classified as “Goals” or “Priorities” of the B2B buyer persona. These are the things the persona is responsible for achieving, given their role within their organization. When you create a buyer persona, make sure you include the details, rather than providing only vague terms such as “grow revenues,” “increase efficiency,” or “reduce costs.” Always remember to define the “what” that applies the persona’s perspective to the objective.

Examples:

  • Automate processes to speed time to market by removing inefficient workflows
  • Lower total cost of ownership for ERP by moving to a cloud platform
  • Improve productivity by creating a flexible work plan that reduces the number of FTEs needed

This level of detail highlights long-tail keywords for top of the funnel SEO, provided you’ve chosen phrases your customers also use.

3. Problems

Problems are the flip side of objectives; they’re essentially why the objectives have yet to be met. As applied to the three examples above, they might look like:

  • Inefficient workflows make our products late to market, costing us market share
  • Our legacy on-premise ERP system has prohibitively costly inefficiencies, which keep us two steps behind our competition
  • Due to a market downturn, we need to reduce staff without reducing morale

Seeing both sides of a pain point is helpful when generating content to address a buyer persona’s needs. Some people that represent your persona may be glass-half-full people; some may be glass-half-empty.

4. Orientation

For a B2B, orientation is the equivalent to demographics in a B2C. However, in B2B, knowing whether your buyer persona is married with two kids and a dog is irrelevant. You can’t capitalize on that information. Age and salary are also not relevant given the rise in startups, where a senior executive can be fresh out of college.

Instead, orientation focuses on attributes such as time spent in their career. Has the persona been around long enough to know where all the bodies are buried or are they still climbing the ladder? Is the prevalent trend that your persona starts and stays with a company, making progress up the ladder? Or do they tend to have eight jobs in 10 years at different companies? This type of information can define the tone and style of your content, as well as the approach you take to some topics.

If you look at what people say about them in LinkedIn recommendations, are they often referred to as mentors? As detail oriented? Or, as efficient and focused? These types of details also play into tone, voice, and style for your content.

If you read their LinkedIn profile, how do they see themselves? As a proactive leader? Perhaps as a seasoned warrior who’s been in the trenches of their industry for 20 years…?

You get the idea. This type of information is much more important in a B2B buyer persona than the type of car they drive or in which suburb they live.

5. Obstacles

Obstacles are whatever could derail the deal. Often, these are seen as late-stage issues, such as, “the price was too high.” But obstacles can happen during any stage of the buying process.

Research by CEB found internal buying committees reach their height of conflict 37% of the way through the buying process. And even if they’re able to resolve the issue and move forward, that conflict is bound to rise again.

Obstacles present in a variety of ways. The more we know about them, the more preemptive we can be in squashing them, before they impede progress.

Examples of obstacles:

  • This is too complex; there’s bound to be too much risk
  • Harry wants to solve this problem differently; he has more clout than I do
  • My boss doesn’t buy into this concept and reallocated budget to another project
  • What if our people won’t adopt the new system and insist on doing things the old way?
  • This solution looks like it will disrupt more processes than the value we’ll get

It’s important to note that each persona’s perspective on obstacles will be different. Understanding their fears, doubts, and threshold for risk will help you to address misconceptions or confusion before they throw their hands in the air and walk away.

Obstacles will also help you identify potential triggers in an engagement that indicate when a persona has confronted a block. This means you’ll be prepared to respond quickly to calm their concerns.

6. Questions

Questions are undoubtedly my favorite part of a B2B buyer persona. Depending on how you’d answer these questions, you can frame the content you need to engage a buyer across the buying process. Questions are also the catalyst for a conversation.

They ask a question. You answer it. They take in the new information and respond with a new question. This Q&A feeds right into a storytelling approach when done well. You can even see the flow come together as a guide for driving engagement.

With questions, we need to understand what the buyer persona needs to know at each stage of the journey.

For example:

  • Why should I care? I have a process for doing this
  • What if I choose to do nothing? How bad could it be?
  • What are my competitors doing about this issue?
  • What are industry trends driving it?
  • What will it take to convince Harry, Steve, and Diana to get on board?
  • How do I build the business case? What does the value look like for me?

And on and on.

The questions you define for your buyer persona will be specific to their needs and objectives, but they will be variations on the questions above. The beauty about questions is, as you identify new ones, they will slot into the flow you’ve already established. This means your content marketing program has infinite flex and agility. If a question goes away, you simply remove the associated content and replace it with whatever question or concern has taken precedence.

7. Content and Channel Preferences

This information can be found in two ways—by listening and observing people who are representative of your buyer personas “in the wild” or by asking them during interviews. Hopefully, you’ll do both.

While B2B marketers have shown a propensity for jumping on every new channel out there, a buyer persona can be used to apply constraints. If a prospect doesn’t fall within your set parameters, you don’t need to spend resources on them. A tighter focus can bring huge rewards due to higher value and relevance.

This is also a key factor to be considered in your content marketing strategy. When you understand where you need to be for the best effect, you can spend your time and resources perfecting those areas, rather than chasing everything that moves.

One thing I will caution against: attributing behavior to your personas without verifying it. For example, just because videos get the most traffic on your website doesn’t mean videos are the persona’s content of choice. Always investigate before you make assumptions, or you could make critical errors in how you market to your persona.

8. Keywords and Phrases

As mentioned earlier, the details you collect during customer interviews can be indicative of keywords and phrases your buyer persona will use. There are tools you can use in this process, like Google’s Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest. But it’s critical to understand how keyword usage will change during the buying process as your customers become more educated about solving their problem and about the class of solution you provide.

As you develop your content for different stages (in answer to different questions), make sure you’re also adjusting your keywords and phrases to follow suit. And, while buyer personas can provide some great input for keywords, make sure to test and refine them. Use your analytics and continuously monitor how well they’re working toward achieving your content marketing strategy goals.

9. Watering Holes and Social Media

Where your buyer persona turns to for information is an important consideration to gain awareness and attract them to your own products. But, once again, it’s not about being everywhere; it’s about being where they spend their time.

Different platforms require different types of content and engagement. This is where listening really comes into play. Posting the same content and messaging everywhere is not a strategy. Nuance is important.

Focus on a handful of industry sites and social media platforms that give you the best opportunity for engaging this specific audience. The more of a specialist you can become, the more results you will see.

In Conclusion

A B2B buyer persona can contribute a great deal to your content marketing strategy. The key is developing a depth of information and actually putting that knowledge to work. Creating buyer personas as a check-the-box item and filing them away won’t add value. But the same is also true if you don’t get organizational buy-in or don’t use buyer personas to facilitate cross-functional alignment in your organization when building relationships with your customers. The key is to understanding your customer’s experience in its entirety, and being able to provide the perfect piece of content to continue their progression to buying.

Originally posted on Marketeer, by Kapost

The post How to Apply a B2B Buyer Persona to Your Content Marketing Strategy appeared first on Marketing Interactions .

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While 89% of B2B marketers have embraced content marketing, only 37% have a documented content marketing strategy, and only 22% say they are extremely successful with their overall approach to content marketing.

Successful content marketing requires more than just a commitment to creating content—it requires a developed, planned strategy.

One of the key foundational elements to a content marketing strategy is a buyer persona. Yet merely 57% of B2B marketers say they have a deep understanding of the buyer personas included in their strategy.

It’s time to rectify this limitation.

A B2B Buyer Persona is a Functional Tool—Not a Poster with a Few Platitudes

Anyone who’s ever heard me speak on the subject of personas knows I’m passionate about the usefulness of every bit of information included in a B2B buyer persona. Finding such usefulness requires time and effort. But it’s worth it, considering that 70% of B2B marketers intend to create more content this year than last.

An in-depth buyer persona will:

  • Describe their perspective on your product based on what they want to achieve
  • Demonstrate their relationships to other members of the buying committee
  • Identify obstacles impeding progress at each stage of the buying process
  • Reveal information needed throughout the buying process
  • Clarify their priorities and challenges
  • Inform the tone, style, and voice for content
  • Assist writers to create content that speaks directly to this persona
  • Enable collaboration among marketing, product, sales, and customer service for a consistent experience
  • Contribute to a consensus on what constitutes a qualified lead
  • Align your business objectives to their business objectives

All of these rolled together serve to inform and balance your content marketing strategy to appeal to what buyers want.

4 Steps to Developing a Buyer Persona Step 1: Internal Interviews

Internal interviews are valuable as a baseline for how your organization perceives and understands your buyers and customers. This is a critical step so that you will know where the gaps are, how much conflict there is in audience perception across the enterprise, and where the push-backs may come from when it’s time to institutionalize the personas.

Select members related to the focus of the project from sales, product marketing, and line of business management. Aim for at least three to five interviews with each department—more if you can get them.

Limit the time commitment to 30 minutes. Everyone is busy. Scheduling interviews (whether internal or external) is the most difficult part of the buyer persona development process. So make it as easy as possible. And, most importantly, structure the interviews as conversations, not inquisitions.

Questions to Ask Salespeople:
  • Who do you usually interact with at prospective companies?
  • Who else do you need to get into these conversations?
  • Who typically makes the final decision to buy?
  • What questions do they tend to ask you?
  • How do they phrase the problem they’re trying to solve?
  • What do they state as their objective?
  • What do they need to build the business case?
  • What kind of push back do you get to moving forward?
  • Why would they choose not to buy from us?
  • What competitors come up most often?
  • What do you think tips buyers in our favor?
Questions to Ask Product Marketers:
  • What have you heard lately from our customer advisory board?
  • What’s on the road map for the product and why?
  • What trends do you see driving future product development?
  • Do you see any new uses or users for our products given industry developments?
  • Do you see customers using the product differently than we intended?
  • Where do you think our product is the weakest?
  • Where do you think our product shines?
  • Do we have any new use cases in development? (Can we see them? Can we sit in on the interviews?)
Questions to Ask Line of Business Managers:
  • What are your top objectives for this year?
  • Where do you see the most opportunity for achieving them? (Market or industry trends, competitor weaknesses, etc.)
  • What obstacles do you think could get in the way? (Certifications, regulation changes, delays to new feature development, etc.)
  • What do you think sales needs to win more deals?
  • How do you think we could deliver even more value than we do today to our customers?

Because they also meet with customers, ask business managers a few of the questions from the salesperson list.

Once your internal interviews are complete, compile your findings and agree on the persona(s) to develop. This decision should be based on where you think marketing programs can have the most impact.

Be careful if you’ve arrived at a C-level executive. For a C-level executive persona, make sure what you’re selling is of high strategic value. Even though they make the final decision, if most of the research, evaluation, and building of the business case is done at a lower level, that’s where your focus should be.

Step 2: External Interviews

There’s no way around this. An in-depth B2B buyer persona requires insights gleaned from buyers and customers. Without direct insight, you’re still guessing. Even with buyer research surveys, if those buyers aren’t your buyers then the findings won’t be definitive.

Based on the outcome of Step 1, define a list of contacts at customer companies that will represent the persona(s) you’re building. Don’t be limited by title; also think about the role. For example, in a series of interviews I just completed, there were at least six different titles. But each of these people essentially had the same role within their company—as well as within the buying process.

Keep the size of the customer company in mind. Even the same title will have vastly different perspectives, roles, and responsibilities if they work at an SMB vs. a large, global-enterprise company.

Additionally, if you’re not focusing on a specific vertical, make sure you get a mix of industries. Developing buyer personas is about identifying commonalities across the swath of buyers.

Questions to Ask Customers:

Note that you’ll want to tailor these questions to your specific situation. The following are the key questions I return to in some form or another because they elicit the information needed to build a solid persona.

  • Can you tell me about a day in your life as a [title]?
  • What are your top priorities?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face in achieving them?
  • What happened that motivated you to look for a solution?
  • What issues were caused by that problem?
  • How did you define the outcome you were trying to achieve?
  • What did you need to figure out the best way to solve the problem?
  • Why couldn’t the problem be solved internally?
  • Who else was involved in making the decision?
  • Where did you find the most helpful information?
  • What other solutions did you consider?
  • Did anyone disagree with how you wanted to solve the problem?
  • What was the turning point when everyone got on board?
  • What made you choose our solution?

I like to complete at least 7–10 customer interviews per buyer persona. I’ll take more if I can get them, but usually, by ten interviews I’m not learning anything new—provided we selected the best-matched people to interview for the persona.

Step 3: External Research

There are some things that you won’t learn in interviews, and these will populate the professional attributes of a persona. Luckily, they’re things you can find on your own.

Do a search on LinkedIn for profiles that match your B2B buyer persona’s definition. Look for the following:

  • Time spent in career and time spent in persona’s role
  • Changed jobs a lot vs. climbed the ladder at the same company
  • Type of college degree
  • What’s said about them in recommendations
  • What groups they belong to
  • The level of activity on LinkedIn – shares, posts written, things they’ve liked, etc.

I usually look at 50 or more profiles to root out valuable information and identify patterns.

You’ll also want to search for analyst and industry reports that are relevant to the project. Remember to review industry portals, related thought leader blogs, and job listings.

Don’t overlook competitor websites, blogs, and social media accounts. You may find a gap that presents an opportunity to capitalize on an overlooked channel.

Step 4: The B2B Buyer Persona Build

Now that you’ve completed your internal and external interviews and your external research, it’s time to pull all the information together to build your B2B buyer persona. Remember that you want to capture the details. There’s a big difference between something vague, such as “Grow revenues,” and something with the persona’s perspective, such as “Automate processes to eliminate inefficiency and bring products to market faster.” Plus, writing it down solidifies your marketing process.

There are many structures you can use for your buyer persona. I structure the personas I build around nine components that include:

  1. “A Day in the Life” – written in the first person as if the persona is speaking to you (include relationships with others involved in the buying decision)
  2. Objectives – priorities they need to achieve
  3. Problems – why the objectives haven’t been achieved yet
  4. Orientation – professional attributes
  5. Obstacles – what could stall forward momentum
  6. Questions asked during each stage of the buying process
  7. Content and channel preferences
  8. Keywords and phrases
  9. Watering holes and social media

Structure helps you to assign the information you’ve collected in a useful way.

I’ll talk more about this in my next post, “How to Apply a B2B Buyer Persona to Content Marketing Strategy.”

Originally posted on Marketeer, by Kapost

The post Create B2B Buyer Personas that Inform Content Marketing Strategy appeared first on Marketing Interactions .

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Pushing product: it’s what B2B companies have been doing for years. Even if we say we’re putting the customer front and center, usually we’re not really walking the talk. We have all these meetings and mandates about what the company wants to accomplish and rally our teams to create strategies and execute tactics to achieve them. But in most of these conversations, the customer becomes the equivalent of a wanted poster. We target them based on what we want to achieve rather than making them the hub from which we pivot.

How many marketing meetings have you been in that start with some version of one of the below?

  • We need a campaign for Q2 to generate #X leads/demands for product A.
  • Our customers have shown high engagement with these content assets; what can we create to continue the story or fill in the gaps to help them solve this problem?

My bet is that the first bullet is a lot more prevalent than the second.

While the idea behind Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is not necessarily new, its relatively new name and acronym is picking up a ton of steam in B2B organizations. One of the best things about ABM is the first part: the “Account.” By its very nature, ABM makes the account and customer the North Star that guides all decisions.

If you’re doing ABM well, everything rolls up under the Ideal Customer Profile that represents your best accounts. This includes personas, messaging, stories, content marketing programs, sales enablement programs, and more.

ABM makes your company focus on the entirety of the buying or change management process. It takes campaigns out of the equation and focuses marketing, sales, and service attention on helping our target list of accounts get the job done—from start to finish.

As we erect the operational framework and processes to support ABM, several interesting things start to happen:

Increased Relevance

Relevance in the eyes of our buyers increases because we’ve done the groundwork to understand our targeted accounts. We’ve taken the time to map out who’s involved, build personas, create content specific to the situational needs of those roles—as well as the account as a whole. Marketing, sales, and service teams are pooling insights to develop a well-rounded view of the accounts and their needs.

Marketing and Sales Alignment

Because both sides are focused on the same goals, working together becomes a natural extension of ABM program strategy and execution. Marketing no longer needs to toss leads over the wall to an uninterested sales team. We’re in the same boat. Every contact added to a targeted account matters as a stepping stone toward helping them buy. Both skill sets must be employed harmoniously to make this happen.

Simplified Content Decisions 

Will the content you’re developing serve your target list of accounts? If the answer is no, the content is not produced. It’s that simple. This means that creating content that will go unused is no longer an issue—or a sunk cost. Every content asset you produce will have a purpose in relation to your targeted account list and their stage in solving the problem. It will all be useful and used.

Easy-to-Identify Patterns of Behavior

When you’re not focused on marketing to the total addressable market – just the market that’s ideal for your company—you’re marketing to fewer leads. With a focus on accounts, it’s easier to look at the group dynamic of the contacts within that account rather than one lone lead at a time. When you look at activity and engagement it becomes more apparent when it’s just the right time to take specific actions with specific contacts within the account based on their engagement and behavior.

Collaborative Communication

ABM creates collaboration. We have to talk to each other to work accounts seamlessly. Rather than marketing taking the first part of the process and sales bringing up the rear, we’re all in the pool together. With insights to what each role on the ABM team is doing and the overall ABM strategy, it’s easier to work together. Expectations are set, and working together is the only way to achieve them. Let’s face it; if we don’t communicate across roles, ABM has little chance of succeeding. If each role on the ABM team acts independently, it’s likely your accounts will have a fragmented and confusing experience. And that won’t bode well for either of you.

Simplified Measurement

Finally, the quantity over quality issue can be put to rest! Marketing is no longer about lead volume. Rather, the job is to expand influence within targeted accounts by increasing the number of contacts you’re able to engage. It’s not just a marketing job, but a team job. Metrics can now be focused on pipeline, momentum, and opportunities won.

Yes, you can still measure increases to website traffic, but the focus will now be on activity by target accounts, not just any viewer of your website. (See the Simplified Content Decisions section above.)

Final Thoughts

ABM, done well, can transform B2B companies from being product pushers to account champions. Your focus on knowing and understanding your target accounts will result in more relevant content that resonates. Marketing, sales, and service will align naturally and collaborate more effectively. And because no one will lose sight of an account, measurement will be simplified and based on the impact to the company’s objectives overall—not the achievements of siloed teams. ABM definitely goes beyond marketing.

But best of all, your customers will become the true North Star you’ve always known they should be.

What are you waiting for?

Originally posted on Marketeer by Kapost

The post The Value of ABM Goes Beyond Marketing appeared first on Marketing Interactions .

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I was interviewing a client’s customer a few days ago for a persona project and something he said made me stop and think. What he said can be paraphrased as:

If there is no buzz about your company online, I won’t consider your product as a viable choice.

For context, this is a B2B SaaS product. It plays a key role in a complex workflow. He also says he reads white papers, does his due diligence, looks for facts and data to back up company claims, and talks to vendors. However, he was adamant that the last straw would be if he couldn’t find people talking about the product/solution online. If there was no customer advocacy, he’d walk away.

I’m starting to hear more and more of this type of sentiment. However, this is the first time I’ve heard it said at this level of importance to the decision being made. There was no wavering, no doubt on his side that it was a deciding factor.

Sure, I’ve heard customers say that case studies and testimonials are important. So is talking to customers to hear the reality from them personally. But what was important to this customer was the holistic sharing of advocacy for a product via online means—whether social platforms, self-motivated testimonials or reviews or some form of organic expression or dialogue about the product and company.

His rationale was focused deeply on the need for transparency—which is also entrenched in his company’s culture. In his opinion, the world is now digital and if your company and product have no online conversation and customer advocacy taking place, there’s something amiss.

When I think back to what I hear a lot from customers during persona project interviews, there are a lot of cultural references. Things like:

  • We chose [the vendor] because they really seemed to “get” us
  • [The vendor] made us feel like a big fish in a small pond – that we’re important to them
  • [The vendor] was willing to put skin in the game

Yes, those cliché’s are alive and well.

If I have to make an educated guess, here’s where I think this shift is coming from. Research on buyer content preferences has found the same complaints for years. Take a look at the last three years of research from DemandGen Report’s B2B Content Preferences Surveys:

In 2015, the top suggested improvements to content:
  • Use more data and research to support content
  • Curb the sales messaging
  • Add more insight from industry thought leaders/analysts
  • Provide more benchmarking data
  • Make content easier to access (shorter lead gen forms)

And – 94% of respondents gave the most credence to peer reviews and user-generated content. While the percentage wasn’t quoted, a high majority of buyers were only somewhat willing to say vendor content was trustworthy.

In 2016, the top suggested improvements to content:
  • Use more data and research to support content
  • Curb the sales messaging
  • Add more insight from industry thought leaders/analysts
  • Provide more benchmarking data
  • Make content easier to access (shorter lead gen forms)

And 100% of respondents place a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source, while 83% are overwhelmed with the amount of content available.

Surprisingly, 95% of respondents were open to considering vendor content as trustworthy.

In 2017, the top suggestions for improvement to content:
  • Use more data and research to support content
  • Curb the sales messaging
  • Make content easier to access (shorter lead gen forms)
  • Provide more benchmarking data
  • Add more insight from industry thought leaders/analysts

And – 68% of respondents gave more credence to peer reviews and user-generated content, but 87% of buyers give more credence to industry influencer content.

This year, 75% of respondents placed a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source, but the willingness of buyers to consider vendor content as trustworthy dropped to a low of 34%.

Do you see an alarming, persistent trend here?

B2B Buyers Will Change if Marketers Don’t

Aside from the anomaly of willingness to consider vendor content trustworthy in 2016, the improvements buyers have been asking for in content have remained the same. For three years in a row. And despite the effort B2B marketers are making to roll out more and more content, the impact it’s having with buyers isn’t stellar—in most cases.

This is why they’re looking beyond you to what your customers and peers are saying about you. To guard against the pitches and company-focused chest thumping, buyers are finding ways to plow through the company-generated noise to find level ground. They’re getting smarter about evaluating trustworthiness and more demanding about meaning, purpose and experiences.

I guess what makes me scratch my head is why we’re not changing the way we approach content, as well as how we can improve our brand and customer advocacy programs?

The post A Lack of Customer Advocacy Could Make B2B Buyers Walk Away appeared first on Marketing Interactions .

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One of the biggest values that come with content marketing operations maturity is the ability to say “no” to ad hoc content demands.

As B2B marketers have adopted content marketing, many have found themselves on the hamster wheel of content production. Volume has become the rallying cry, rather than purpose, meaning, and experiences.

Part of this is due to the ease of publishing. But publishing content is not content marketing. It’s just, well, publishing. And it’s often publishing random content because of an arbitrary schedule that mandates a daily blog post or weekly newsletter, or some other act of publishing without the appropriate strategy or plan in place tied to outcomes. This has led a majority of B2B marketers to admit that their content marketing is not effective—year over year.

Another part of the problem driving random acts of content is that marketing is seen as the go-to source for it. Requests come from sales teams, service teams, and executives with ideas they want to be executed as content assets. Most of this is for a specific, one-time use. And, yes, it’s often a “content emergency,” requiring fast turnaround.

Content Marketing Operations Eliminates Content Waste

Content marketing operations formalize planning and put guard rails around what content will be developed, for what audience and purpose, as well as where it will be distributed. It also provides a structure for hierarchy because it defines processes, ownership, and governance of content for the organization.

Organizations spend billions of dollars creating content. Yet research finds that anywhere from 60% (Sirius Decisions) to 90% (Corporate Visions) of branded content is not used. The proper planning will dramatically reduce this waste. A central repository for content makes it findable and reusable to reduce instances of reinventing the wheel that come with random acts of content.

Content Must Be Hirable

B2B audiences seek out content in relation to jobs to be done. A job to be done is the end goal—the big picture. Within a job to be done are many needs or tasks to be completed that require information, learning, and gathering the criteria for decision making and change management. When content is planned and developed based on creating a collective that helps your audience complete a job to be done, it’s hirable.

The attributes of hirable content include:

  • Relevance to a specific, defined target audience (persona)
  • Answers a question or informational need that’s part of a job to be done
  • Points to what’s next toward completing the job to be done

Content that’s hirable has purpose and meaning for the viewer. Its job is to motivate action and next steps to provide a continuum of support for the job to be done—from end to end.

When a request for content comes in that doesn’t support the job to be done for the intended audience, it should be rejected as not hirable.

Hirable content is also evergreen. As long as the job to be done exists, the content developed to support it is useful and relevant.

A technology client with a complex buying process that could last three years produced a nurturing program that addressed the tasks of a job to be done in the oil and gas industry. Because all the content they shared with this target market addressed the job to be done in relation to each persona on the buying committee, the buying process was reduced to 18 months. All of the content was used and is still used successfully several years later.

The content is reviewed and updated annually, and occasionally a piece is switched out, but for the most part the same nurture program continues to perform because the job to be done still exists. The client made a purposeful decision not to create content for a one-off use or for short-term themed campaigns favored by other divisions of the company. By taking a comprehensive end-to-end view of the job to be done, all of the content created is hirable by the target audience.

Content Must Also Pivot to Context

With some jobs to be done, different personas need the same information. But they need it in different contexts to align with their perspectives to be able to consider it. A global business process outsourcing client identified four personas on the buying committee. Each of these audiences was receptive to information about how to evaluate vendors for the services provided.

An information-rich article was developed that would be useful for each of the personas. For each pivot, the title, introduction, and conclusion were tailored to match the perspective of the persona. Different tags and keywords were used. But the body of the article was the same. Because each persona was able to view the information in alignment with their context, the article sparked collaborative conversations that got salespeople invited to the conversations. With each of them using the same information, consensus was easier to achieve.

This same client achieved similar results when they used data from clients within an industry to highlight common areas for improvement. As they looked at data for the different industries they served, they realized that some of the areas of improvement were common. The information was repurposed into additional industry reports and aligned with the industry it addressed.

With a focus on creating meaningful content that addresses jobs to be done, all of this content is used and gains a longer shelf life. Ad hoc content requests have gone away because the strategy has proven to perform.

Make the Move from Random to Relevant

Content Marketing Operations

provides the structure needed to become more purposeful about content marketing. Nearly all B2B marketers practice content marketing and nearly all of them say they will produce more content this year. More isn’t always the answer. Better is.

If you remember that your target markets are hiring your content in pursuit of a job to be done, it will become much easier to just say “no” to random acts of content.

Originally posted on Marketeer, by Kapost

The post Content Marketing Operations Halts Random Acts of Content appeared first on Marketing Interactions .

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