Creating Relevant B2B Marketing Content: Walk the Talk

There is plenty of advice out there about engaging B2B and industrial buyers with relevant marketing content at every stage of the buying cycle. That is pretty much the mantra of B2B content marketing.

Transforming that concept into an actionable reality is a very different story. Nothing happens until your site visitors and blog readers take some kind of an action after reading your content. In other words, it is time to walk the talk!

Personas do matter in B2B content marketing

You would be wasting your scarce resources if you pumped out marketing content without first having a clear and complete understanding of the personas of your B2B buyers. Even if you have carefully segmented your target audience by demographics, different people within the same company can and do react differently to your content. And they use different sources to get their information. The chart below from a research study done by Forrester illustrates this point very clearly.

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Successful Industrial Websites Require Part DiY and Part Professional Help

One trend that I have noticed lately with my industrial and engineering clients is that they want to take more of the work in-house. I am referring to updating, maintaining and sometimes marketing their industrial websites. Is that a good thing?

My opinion is somewhat biased because I am an industrial and B2B marketing consultant. I make my living providing marketing services including designing and marketing industrial websites. However, I think it is a new and permanent reality of the current economy and have learned to adjust my business model accordingly.

Adding value to industrial website development and marketing

I am going to illustrate my point about part DiY and part professional help by using three real-life examples from my own industrial marketing business.

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B2B Websites: To Publish Prices, Or Not To Publish…That Is The Question

Do you show prices on your B2B website? Have you struggled to answer that question? You are not alone, most business purchases, especially industrial products don’t lend themselves to a simple Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). It becomes even more complicated if you sell through channel partners and there are different pricing structures in place.

This is not a new problem; business marketers have been debating the pros and cons of publishing prices on their websites for several years now. I found a series of blog posts on pricing on your website at Dave Jung’s B2B Blog, some of those articles date back to 2006.

Why do we need prices on B2B websites?

There have been many studies done over the years that indicate that price information is the very reason why most B2B buyers visit a vendor’s website.

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Shortening the Industrial Buy Cycle in 5 Simple Steps

The other day I read an interesting article titled “5 Steps To Shorten The B2B Buying Cycle” by Kerry Spellman, Client Relationship Manager at iProspect. Even though her article is about the B2B buy cycle in general, it is a perfect follow up to my earlier post “Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle.”

The most frequent complaint that I have heard in the past year from my industrial clients is that their sales cycle has become longer, more complex and increasingly difficult to get on the buyer’s radar screen until it is too late. Any help that I can provide to my clients to alleviate the problem is greatly appreciated and rewarding for my business.

That’s precisely why Kerry’s article caught my attention. She has focused on identifying the problem and providing a 5-step solution to shorten the buy cycle. I have summarized here my takeaways on her five steps.

What is the key to shortening the buy cycle?

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Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle

B2B marketers agree that lead generation and nurturing campaigns must deliver relevant content to their target audience to be successful. Typically, that means understanding the prospect’s pain and then offering a solution for relief.

Sounds simple, right? But not easy to execute because there usually is a disconnect between what your prospect wants to hear and what you want to say about your company and its products and services.

The problem becomes more acute for the industrial sector because the industrial buy cycle can be a long and complex process that often involves multiple decision makers. Without a clear understanding of the stages, it is difficult to align your marketing content with your customer’s decision-making process.

Industrial Buy Cycle White PaperI downloaded a white paper called “Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers’ Buying Process” from GlobalSpec that has done a very good job of explaining the four stages of the industrial buy cycle and how to match your marketing content to each stage.

The white paper has deconstructed the complex industrial buy cycle into four distinct stages that the buyer systematically goes through. The stages are:

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7 Strategies for Using Content to Market Industrial Products

I am a big fan of Content Marketing or as some people like to refer to it as Inbound Marketing. It is heartening to see that content is at the center of most discussions about the state of B2B marketing today.

However, industrial marketers face a challenge when it comes to producing a steady stream of fresh content to keep their target audience engaged. What do you do when the bulk of your marketing content, with the exception of case studies is product focused? How do you shift the focus from you or your company to your prospects and customers?

Here are seven content marketing strategies that you can use to engage your prospects and move them forward in their buying cycle.

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The Role of B2B Marketing is Shifting from Lead Generation to Revenue Generation

For as long as I can remember, B2B marketers have considered lead generation as their primary focus. Organizations are spending considerable amounts of time and money on tracking and measuring lead generation metrics.

However, the role of B2B marketers is changing and evolving more into revenue generation. The recently released B2B Marketing Skills Survey jointly done by Genius and BtoB Magazine reveals some new trends and contradicts certain popular beliefs.

Here are some of the key findings from the study:

Emerging Trends:

  • 61% of the respondents (500 total) cited Driving Revenue as the most important success metric as compared to Sales Accepted Opportunities (40%), Qualified Leads (39%) with website visits and click-through rates trailing way at the back at 12% each.
  • In order to meet new revenue and ROI goals, marketers need to improve their strategic skills (50%) and sales skills (40%).

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Using Content to Move Prospects Forward in the Sales Cycle

We often think of online content as the text on a web or blog page. The focus there is to optimize it for keywords or phrases for people to find your website when searching for relevant terms. That however is only part of the solution because if your content doesn’t engage the visitor s/he won’t take a desired action to move forward in the sales cycle.

Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc. said it best when she wrote, “Passive reading of your content is not going to help online marketing initiatives shorten buying cycles or increase customer acquisition and revenues.”

Your online content needs to play a much more active role in moving site visitors along in his/her buy decision. According to Bob Carrigan, CEO of International Data Group, “It [content] fulfills the promise of the Web, which is relationship marketing.”

Using content or Inbound Marketing, you are able to make that key connection with your prospects by delivering specific content needed in order to make an informed decision.

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The Distribution Trap – How Innovations Become Commodities

I read an eye-opening article by Andrew R. Thomas, PhD Assistant Professor of International Business, University of Akron and the Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Transportation Security. He has outlined what is wrong with the theory of mass marketing.

For decades, business and management gurus have preached that manufacturers should focus on core competencies and innovate to remain competitive in a global market. Non-core functions such as sales and distribution should be outsourced.

That business model works for a while but in the long-term, it fails badly. Why? Because it is the mega-distributors that dictate terms and reduce the value of the manufacture’s innovations into commodity products. Dr. Thomas calls this “The Distribution Trap.”

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The launch of Industrial MarCom Blog

I launched Industrial MarCom Blog to share my thoughts and opinions on industrial and B2B marketing communications. I also hope to help other marketing professionals, especially those who are responsible for generating high-quality leads for industrial products and engineering services. Here you will find not only my views but also access to third-party case studies, … Read more

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