Marketing sometimes gets a bad rap of being deceptive. There is a fine line between persuasion and deception. Stretching the truth, exaggerating the positives and putting a positive spin on the negatives have been staples of marketing for a long time.
Today’s industrial buyers are far better informed and using deceptive marketing practices won’t get you too far with them. Authenticity and maintaining transparency are critical for industrial companies to succeed with content marketing. (See my previous post, “How Industrial Content Marketing Builds Stronger Relationships Based on Trust”)
Your buyers don’t have to take your word for it, they have various social and online channels to check and confirm your claims. The quickest way to lose credibility is for you to say/write things that you can’t validate. The old adage of “Buyer Beware” has been turned on its head to “Seller Beware.”
Authenticity and transparency in industrial content marketing sound great but are they realistic goals? Do profits, revenues and short-term goals take precedence? The honest answer is probably yes. So how can you be authentic with content marketing and still meet your business goals?
Google those terms and you’ll find many articles and posts about the problem and proposed solutions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all that information, so let me distill it down to two short and actionable statements that I found very useful. I’m not the originator; they are from a presentation made by Rob Davis, executive director of content marketing and video at [email protected], a sister company of, Ogilvy One Worldwide.
“All marketing content should lift the brand, create demand, increase sales and diminish the impact of competitive voices.” – Ogilvy Content Marketing Practice
“The best use of content in marketing occurs when an accord is drawn between the goals of the brand and the desires of the users.”
Based on my experience as an industrial marketing consultant, I can tell you that the first step in creating authenticity in your content marketing is developing a deep and clear understanding of your buyers. That may sound like typical advice coming from a consultant. You may be wondering if all this is just more marketing mumbo jumbo that will have very little impact on your ability to generate more qualified leads that turn into sales opportunities.
Let me assure you that it is very real and it is not merely a marketing exercise. A common problem that I see with industrial companies that are doing or wanting to do content marketing, is a lack of good understanding of their buyers. Very rarely, if ever do these companies segment their customers other than by industry and job titles. Those are good starting points but not a complete description of different stakeholders involved in complex industrial sales.
Your content marketing is likely to suffer from one-size-fits-all content if your have limited understanding of your buyers and their buying process. Without this clear understanding, your entire content marketing strategy will be based on “post and pray.” You are not likely to generate too may qualified leads unless you get very lucky.
I couldn’t possibly cover everything that goes into building comprehensive buyer personas and creating meaningful buyer journeys in this post, but I can provide you some general guidelines to get you started.
- Step one: Get both Sales and Marketing involved in defining personas and journeys. This will eliminate making incorrect assumptions if Marketing does this on their own.
- Step two: Define your buyers by their roles in the buying process rather than just their job titles.
- Step three: Get help from Sales in identifying real concerns/questions that they hear customers talk about on a daily basis.
- Step four: Create a content marketing grid or matrix with buyer personas as column headings and content assets as rows. This will help you identify the gaps you have and the kind of content you need to create/repurpose that will address your buyers’ concerns and not just based on what you want to sell.
You cannot begin to create content that sounds and is authentic if you don’t have a deep understanding of your buyers and their challenges. Publishing more content for content’s sake won’t help you rise above the noise. Neither will making claims that you cannot validate with case studies and customer stories. Marketing content that speaks to the concerns of your buyers and provides real value to them has a much better chance of earning their trust.
You are already dealing with an audience that is cynical and skeptical even when you tell them the truth. Don’t make it harder on yourself by creating content that is more hype than help. You can try gaming search engines with clever headlines stuffed with keywords but you’ll quickly lose credibility if the content on your webpages and/or blog posts does not meet their expectations.
Don’t take my word for it; check your Bounce Rates and Average Session Duration in Google Analytics. As they say, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Do you have a documented procedure for creating buyer personas? If so, how do you use it to add authenticity to your industrial content marketing?