With Tricia Wills Ruiz, Creative Content Manager, Real Impact
Content is just a way to get your message across.
For B2B marketers who worry about every sentence and every word of their content assets, this statement may seem like a little off. But when you take a step back and think about it, B2B marketing is really about having long-term conversations with buyers, and that requires more than just a detailed business case rationale.
Your prospects should Wants I don’t talk to you. In many cases, it is as much about the customer experience as it is about the information you provide. Successful B2B “content” has to find a balance between the two. And it starts with understanding that you don’t have to sell off a buyer every time you speak.
B2B content is the delivery of additional messages
I recently spoke to Rachit Dayal, CMO, APAC, for Merkle, about how B2B enterprise marketers can learn so little from B2C when it comes to engaging potential customers with concise, fun “content” experiences.
Merkle is a leading provider of Customer Experience Platform (CXP) solutions, and so the Dayal team often supports deals that take months or even years to close. Dayal sees every contact with members of the buying group as important, but he also believes that the value of this exchange can be emotional and educational.
“We marketers always know message is probably more important than form,” Dayal told me during our conversation, part of the True Influence Accelerating Revenue series. “But we also knew from Don Draper’s era that you can take something modest and pack it well and you get results…as long as customers enjoy the experience, we can call that ‘content’ and that’s a positive.”
Content as defined by your audience
The first thing to understand when crafting successful content experiences, especially for global markets, is that different audiences have different expectations, in terms of information and delivery.
Dayal is based in Singapore, and it is in this market that “western” buyers expect information to support decision, such as white papers and case studies. In China and India, “content” tends to appear more in terms of in-depth exchanges, usually in live events. Dayal says many contacts are actually looking for career advice in those markets. Giving them what they want helps build an affinity with Merkle that may turn long-running purchases in its favor in the future.
“If you can change the sentiment, make the brand stand out a bit,” he said, “that could be a win, especially in the high conversion funnel.” “Just building a sense that they kind of like you can encourage increased content consumption.”
Creativity, consistency and the big picture
My conversation with Dayal covered a wide range of topics, from how to measure content winning to innovative ways to tackle webinar stress. He is a great thinker who embraces creativity and experimentation along with measurement and implementation. The Dayal team typically works on very large deals, which can include 40 or more touchpoints, and is quick to point out that many of the innovations we’ve discussed are tailored to this level of complexity. However, I found much of what he said thought provoking.
Leads don’t come from ‘home run’ content
Nothing you do in the early stages of a B2B relationship will cause the main decision maker to immediately request a sales call. So feel free to experiment. Dayal suggested treating your marketing concepts as a “growth hack” – be open to all ideas, reduce the good ones to a list of actionable tactics, then give them time to build momentum. This point particularly resonates with me, because that’s what we’re doing right now at MeritB2B-powered True Influence with this video series.
Pay, don’t pay
Dayal says he’s not overly concerned with the “content attack,” which has re-emerged as a talking point in the industry with the shift to digital channels during the pandemic. You don’t need to be in front of your expectations every day. Just engage with them on the channels they prefer, and then follow their lead when they tell you they want more information.
Quick conversations are good conversations
Dayal doesn’t invest heavily in long content these days. In fact, his team tends to create written messages of no more than two or three sentences. Videos last about 15 seconds. Classic long content is reserved for artistic audiences at key turning points.
Again, Dayal is quick to stress that this approach works for long-term campaigns – for short deals, you may still want to invest in traditional content assets and gauge the direct response to them. A/B/C testing is still widely believed in in these use cases.
Measure the little things
Dayal says attribution across channels is critical to modern B2B buyers. He notes that because many social media platforms limit the amount of data you share, his team fills in the gaps with other forms of intelligence, including sales and group conversations with customers. In fact, he suggests that direct feedback from your best clients may be one of the best ways to pitch your ready-made ideas to the rest of the company.
Never stop innovating
When webinar attendance began to dwindle after five quarters of the pandemic, Merkle held mixed events where some attendees were online, while others congregated in a physical location. The interest was high, and the audience was excited about the change of pace. Dayal also brought in futurists to provide content because many people are tired of talking about current events. He says the response has been very positive, both from attendees and from Merkle partners.
Check out the episode!
Be sure to check out our full conversation with Rachit Dayal on your favorite platform.