No doubt, leading B2C brands like Red Bull and Bodyform are building strong customer communities through inspiring, thoughtful and motivating content. B2B marketers understand the value of content marketing as well – and in fact, Content Marketing Institute reports that 33% of marketing budget spend in 2012 went to content, with 54% of marketers planning to increase content funding in the next year. Since B2B purchase decisions are not as straightforward as those in the B2C world, using content to generate high-quality leads quickly and cost effectively is a top priority. So what are some of the top challenges B2B marketers face in customer attainment and retention and how can content can help?
The Unknown Product
What happens when you’re selling a product that the target customer does not know that they need? Marketers must tread carefully here, and educate the marketplace before launching into a sales pitch. Creating educational content that identifies the audience’s pain points and gradually introduces a solution is the first step to building a pool of potential buyers.
Complicated Risk Factors
Unlike B2C transactions, where the individual is weighing their own values, obligations and desires before handing over their credit card, B2B buyers are burdened with the needs of the entire organization. This makes the decision process a stressful one, where the consumer is torn between personal and organizational risk. Knowing the uncertainties that the target audience faces within their organization and the industry-at-wide was a key priority for IBM as they anticipated the launch of the Midsize Insider, a content resource for small-to-midsize business owners. Rather than pushing products, the articles directly address ongoing and emerging issues that their potential customer cares about. By offering knowledge first, IBM is able to attract new leads, build credibility, and remain top of mind when the prospect is looking to purchase
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A long, drawn out sales cycle
Buying a solution for your business, whether it’s a document management service or an employee-wide cell phone plan, can take a considerable amount of time—from months to years. Brands can engage with prospects over this period by publishing pieces of content that are relevant to each stage of the buying process. By crafting content targeted toward each level of the sales funnel, including broader educational pieces, industry focused articles, and product and solution descriptions, marketers can ensure that their prospects are receiving the information they need when they are ready for it.
According to Gleanster Research, only 25% of leads are ready to advance to sales at any given time—leaving 75% in need of meaningful and brand-aligned interactions in order to remain active members of the sales funnel. By using content to address consumers’ fears, the lead pool will stay alive and well.
How has content helped your lead generation efforts? What challenges are you facing? Leave a comment below or sound off on Twitter and LinkedIn. For more strategies and best practices, take a look at the Content Standard, a resource for content marketing news and trends.