Those of us who provide marketing services and solutions for B2B Marketers get to speak with many, many marketers and organisations during the course of a year. Its one of the best parts of my job.
I have had four prospect meetings this week. It was a week of extremes. On one end of the spectrum I met with a gargantuan international Telco and at the opposite extreme a classic smart, entrepreneurial small software business.
What I found interesting was despite almost every facet of their businesses being so different, they had the same issue.
The marketers were troubled by their firms’ inability to generate and deliver content to their target audience effectively and reliably over time.
There were some unifying elements to their problem. Both firms were very comfortable creating top of funnel content that generated initial traffic and leads. Their respective marketing departments had been doing this for many years. Where they struggled was moving beyond the initial point of engagement to create content that nurtures a lead. That is, content that continues to engage with a prospect after the initial attraction.
Lets be clear on one point, just because someone has come to your site and filled out a lead form to gain access to your content does NOT make them a prospect. It does, however, give you the opportunity to build a relationship, which if done well, will make them a genuine prospect for your sales team.
So what you do next as a marketer is key. Its lead nurturing.
The first date had gone well, what are you going to do on the second and third dates to maintain and develop interest in you?
This requires careful consideration and planning.What questions do buyers have at this stage of the buyer’s journey? Firstly, marketers must shake the status quo and make their target buyers realise they do indeed have a problem, that there is a better way. Once troubled, marketers must show buyers that solutions are available that solve these problems and that implementing these solutions will reap economic benefit to the buyer.
So why is creating content that nurtures a lead such a challenge for marketers?
In my view its because the role of B2B marketing is shifting, Modern marketers need new influencing skills and to understand much more about their prospects than they are used to. Typically sales took over from marketing fairly early in the journey a buyer takes from initial awareness to satisfied client. Sales are experts at building relationships with prospects, at understanding who has purchasing authority and who has influence over the final decision. A lot of complex information is exchanged between buying and selling organisations Now, the content that B2B marketers produce must fulfill this role. No wonder they are troubled.
Why has it changed? Because the all pervasive nature of the internet means buyers are self educating and engaging with the sales function much later in the journey than they used to. They are able to find vast amounts of information an almost any topic they choose, they are abe to engage with their peers in online communities in an effective information exchange. Marketers MUST engage with buyers at this information gathering and education stage that plays such an important part in forming preference. If they are not, then you can bet your last dollar your competitors will be.
Increasingly, the sales function is being engaged much later in the purchase process, in the last one third of the buyer’s funnel. Modern marketers are having to fill the chasm that has emerged between content that builds early stage awareness and content that advances the buyer through their purchasing journey.
For without action, without influencers being influenced and prospects making progress, marketing is wasting their time and the company’s money.
Creating content that genuinely shifts a buyer’s perspective is NOT easy and its NOT quick, it takes an investment of money and skills, (or the services of an agency that specialises in content marketing). However, THE modern marketers challenge is to overcome the old marketing mindset of “lead generation” and prove marketing’s real link to revenue by engaging in lead nurturing.
Chris Fell is the Managing Director of g2m Solutions, and an accredited align.me Funnel Coach. To read more of his insights, go to the g2M Solutions blog.