B2B Marketing Content falls under 2 broad category – 1. Content addressed to a Technical Decision Maker 2. Content addressed to a Business Decision Maker. We asked B2B Marketing Experts the following question – “How should content that is addressed to a Technical Decision Maker be different from content that is addressed to a Business Decision Maker? Pick two pieces of content(ebook, white paper, flash video, total cost of ownership calculator) that you consider outstanding – 1 example of a B2B Marketing content addressed to a Technical Decision Maker and 1 B2B Marketing content addressed to a Business Decision Maker”. Read on to get their insights.
Marketing Interactions helps companies with complex sales and quantify marketing effectiveness by using interactive e-marketing strategies driven by compelling content. She empowers her clients to create customer-centric nurturing programs that leverage strategic story development to engage prospects until they are sales ready. Ardath’s book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale is now shipping!
Ardath Albee’s Tip
At the risk of being obnoxious, my answer is that whether the decision maker is on the business side of the house or the IT side isn’t what defines the differences in how the content is written. What determines the differences is the problem the content is addressing and the perspective of the person concerned with solving it.
Let’s take unified communications, for example.
The business decision maker may be trying to solve the problem how to have global product development teams get products to market faster. If that’s the problem, then the content will be designed to discuss how global project teams can use workspaces to collaborate in real time, access the information they need with a click and work on product iterations with other members of the team as if they were in the same room with video conferencing.
The IT decision maker may be trying to determine what he needs to know about converging data, voice and video over the IP network in order to better support remote worker collaboration. In this context the content might provide a subset of things to be considered in order to ensure uninterrupted application performance, appropriate bandwidth allocation and rapid end user adoption of the tools. The level of technical detail will depend on buying stage and role.
Now let’s assume that both of these decision makers work for the same company. What you see are two variations of the same theme. The main goal in this scenario is getting products to market faster. The focus of the business person is facilitating faster, more informed decisions in relation to product design. The focus of the IT decision maker is about how to achieve that level of collaboration without adverse effects to the network infrastructure while minimizing disruptions to user processes. Using business valuation software, a business can make informed decisions on what areas they need to improve on.
When you design different tracks of content, you must think about how they will work in parallel to help the various stakeholders within companies solve the problems that impede the achievement of its overall strategic objectives.
This Cisco video is an example of how unified communications works in action to help the business decision maker visualize how global team processes can shift to meet his goal with the right tools.
This Cisco white paper, Blueprint for Collaborative Application Architecture, is an example of information a solution architect will find valuable when determining how to implement the technology to deliver on his view of the goal.
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Tom Pick’s Bio
Tom Pick is an online marketing executive with KC Associates, a marketing and PR firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota, focused on B2B technology clients. He’s also the award-winning writer of the Webbiquity blog, which focuses on B2B lead generation and web presence optimization — the fusion of SEO, search marketing, social media, content marketing and interactive PR.
Tom Pick’s Tip
At a high level, whether addressed to a technical or business decision-maker, a white paper or other piece of content has to be about how to solve a problem. It has to be relevant, and the problem has to be large enough to be a priority. For today’s time- and attention-starved IT and business executives, f the content doesn’t speak directly to an issue that is causing them significant pain, it will be ignored.
Within that context, the approaches are slightly different. Content for a business decision-maker has to use financial statement type metrics: reduced expenses, increased revenue, faster cash collection, shortened sales cycles, improved margins, more predictable cash flow, etc. Process is an important element. If your message is “better, faster, cheaper” it had better be very good, because at this point business executives have heard it all (many times) before. Particularly in this economic environment, most departments are already running very lean; executives and managers are skeptical of how much more efficiency can be wrung out of their downsized, over-stretched staff at this point. If you really want to get the interest of business buyers in this environment, show them how to grow revenue.
Technical decision makers usually have three questions for any piece of content: what is this (solution, product, service, idea, concept, approach, process, etc.) going to do for me, what’s it going to take from me, and how will it impact IT’s value to the organization. The metrics are different, but CIOs can translate measures like help desk call volume, average problem resolution time, system uptime/downtime etc. into the business metrics they need. The amount of change required is critical (the less, the better). At a certain point, this can be a deal-killer; for example, it’s pointless to try to suggest any sort of Unix/Linux solution into a business that considers itself a “Wiodows shop,” no matter how compelling the value. IT managers care first and foremost about their own operations, but if a product/approach/idea can also extend the value of IT across other departments, that’s a substantial plus.
One example of an excellent technical white paper is Better Visibility into Change Management with Kinetic Calendar from business service management software provider Kinetic Data. It addresses a thorny area for IT departments (improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the change management process) , is addressed at a specific audience (IT departments running BMC Remedy IT system management software) where the change required will be minimal, and offers a broader benefit (calendars can be used for a variety of business tasks beyond IT as well as within the department).
On the business side, one noteworthy example of content is the white paper Ten Ways to Generate Higher Returns from Your Investments in Innovation from product lifecycle management software vendor Sopheon. Of course it uses business language (revenue growth, net present value of a new product portfolio, ROI) and addresses process management as well as tools, but it also conveys a compelling message: new products provide an inordinate share of both revenue growth and profitability for many organizations. Those that manage innovation most effectively not only grow faster than their peers but are also more profitable and have stronger competitive differentiation. Companies like Ford and Apple are having conspicuous success in today’s economic environment, not by slashing costs but by producing innovative new products that set them apart and that people will buy.
In short, effective content for either technical or business buyers needs to address issues that keep them awake at night, in the language they use.
Recommended Resources from B2B Marketing Experts
- Forrester Blog for Interactive Marketing Professionals
- Ardath Albee’s blog Marketing Interactions
- Rebel Brown’s blog Phoenix Rising
- Brian Carroll’s blog B2B Lead Generation Blog
- Patsi Krakoff’s blog Writing on the Web
- Mac McIntosh’s Sales Lead Insights: A B2B marketing Blog
- Marketo’s Modern B2B Marketing
- Howard Sewell’s blog, The Point
- Tom Pick’s blog Webbiquity
- Content Strategy: The Future of Marketing (via Joe Pulizzi with Christine Halvorson)
- Outputs, Outtakes, Outcomes…Oh My! (via Beth Harte)
- Charlene Li’s and Josh Barnoff’s book Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
- Laura Patterson’s book Marketing Metrics in Action
- Hugh MacLeod’s Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity
- Cashing in With Content (a classic by David Meerman Scott)
- Get Content. Get Customers. By Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett
- Brian Carroll’s book Lead Generation for the Complex Sale
- Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web
- Mapping Content to the Buying Process – Slidecast
- Velocity’s The B2B Content Marketing Workbook
- B2B Lead Generation Benchmark Study 2009
- Sales Lead Expert’s Learning Center
- B2B Marketing Fundamentals Don’t Change
- Keeping a Closer Eye on Content ROI – CMO Council
- Marketing and Sales Alignment – Marketo eBook (New!)
- Creating Sales Opportunities with Lead Scoring – Genius.com white paper by Ardath Albee
- There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute – Esp. in Social Media Measurement – Anna O’Brien (Random Acts of Data blog)
- The High-Tech Direct Marketing Handbook (Ebook)
- How to Choose Your Carrot: Effective Lead Generation Offers for High-Technology Marketers (White Paper)
- Marketing Edge podcast