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Content driven marketing 'needs to unteach, not teach; guide not lecture', report suggests

Marketers adopting new strategies in B2B lead generation and content marketing are encouraged to create content that will ultimately unteach, not teach customers and go beyond the realm of thought leadership.  According to findings reported by Challenger Marketing (CEB) there are four essential elements in content marketing that may be missing from your arsenal.
 
The key factors that B2B content marketers need to consider is the importance of steering away from mediocre content in the name of looking smart or being helpful. Marketers can achieve a position in thought leadership, but having the desired commercial impact involves a lot more. Increasingly, research shows that customers are learning on their own and are setting buying criteria independently.  They are turning to their personal networks and publicly available information - increasingly via digital and social media channels - to self-diagnose their problems and form opinions about solutions, CEB says.  And all too often, sales is simply unable to break into the process to help teach customers along the way and so much of the content ends up on the back shelves.

Accordingly, instead of relying on thought leadership that teaches customers something about what they could be doing in their business, content should focus on the benefits of alternate action. CEB notes that although the content may look smart or helpful, if it doesn't move the commercial needle and only adds to the noise than it is not going to be effective. Commercial insight must be used to change the conversation and build valuable consensus among purchase groups. The cost of current behavior is a far more valuable piece of information than teaching customers based on more remote information. Looking at it a different way or through a different approach can be beneficial, and the report suggests the content should offer insight, not instruction.  

The report states that there are four elements that can re-focus a company's content and cut through the noise, whch includes content paths that lead to commercial insight and disrupt customer purchase processes.  Create a spark or build interest in an under-appreciated business problem with provocative graphics, data and facts, and present evidence, testimonials and frameworks illustrating the hidden dynamics of the problem, CEB suggests.  This gives the customers something to stop and think about. Present the problem as it relates to the customer's specific business using benchmarking tools, pain calculators and diagnostics. These can influence a customers' next move.  Finally, include content that challenges customers current thinking with the ultimate goal of resetting the customer's purchase criteria; placing it decisively in the suppliers favor.

Instead of waiting for potential customers to self-diagnose their problems and form opinions about solutions, by keeping a step ahead of the conversation, CEB notes that content marketing  will be far more valuable and personal.  Research shows that the number one thing senior decision makers care about when choosing a supplier is whether or not that supplier has buy-in with the rest of the organization. Therefore, the best way to stitch that early consensus together is to build consensus and drive change. Connecting through insightful, useful content is an excellent beginning.

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