Writing to a broad audience can be challenging. That’s especially true when stakeholders have competing priorities or concerns or wear multiple hats—a common situation in the B2B space.
In fact, according to the 2018 B2B Buyers Survey from Demand Gen Report, between one and six people are involved in the B2B purchase process.
However, the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs report Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends notes that “68% of manufacturing marketers are challenged by ‘Creating content that appeals to multi-level roles within the target audience(s).’”
That puts pressure on content marketing teams to have the right content in place to make it easy for buying teams to get agreement from all stakeholders.
You can meet this challenge—but you’ll need to come prepared.
Swing and Connect: Anticipate Content Marketing Roadblocks
You may be partway there; after all you have likely completed the background research you need:
You’ve interviewed customers—and prospects who didn’t become customers.
You’ve created personas.
You’ve examined pains and needs across (or around) the customer experience and buying journey.
Creating content that speaks to each role should be straightforward, right?
Not so fast.
Plenty of roadblocks can prevent your content from hitting the mark:
Your B2B buyers hold more than one role.
Your customers make buying decisions primarily by committee.
You don’t have the time or money to develop targeted content for each persona across each buying stage.
Your internal stakeholders don’t see the value in getting granular.
So how can you get around these issues?
Touch All the Bases on the Buyer Journey
First, make sure that you really do have accurate, role-based personas and messaging in place—and that they delve far enough.
No, you don’t need to know their favorite pastimes, how many pets they own, or what they named their third child. But knowing which generation they’re part of, how long they’ve worked in the industry (and better yet, their company), and who they report to? That’s useful info.
Next, confirm that you have a clear idea of how those personas interact throughout the buying cycle.
Most B2B cycles are heavily front-loaded with independent, online research.
Many initial research tasks are assigned to younger, newer employees, many of whom prefer to conduct research online, on social media, and so on.
At some point, these researchers will need a compelling reason to pass along information to a decision-maker who is higher up the food chain.
Finally, map out how these pieces fit together. Then follow that map to determine which content and channels are most likely to hit a home run.
Hit It Out of the Park: Fill Content Gaps
For example, you might discover that the majority of early-stage research is being conducted by a persona with little buying power. That person then passes along the most likely options to a decision-making committee made up of three other personas.
Each of these people might prefer a different type of online experience and learning format. They might have varying levels of background knowledge about your product and its purpose. And they might have different—even competing—priorities and needs.
You could meet this challenge in several ways:
Create and promote different types of assets across different channels.
Enable self-selection of content based on role.
Create pass-through materials for researchers to give to decision-makers.
Use AI to make demos, Q&As, and other communications as painless as possible.
Organize content according to benefit or pain rather than persona.
Of course, all these approaches still depend on clear insight into each persona.
You might find that a particular feature appeals to multiple roles, but for different reasons. In that case, you might choose to focus on the feature and simply make it easy for readers to self-select their benefit.
Or maybe two roles tend to have divergent views of which deployment option is best. In that case, maybe a tool or table to help customers select their best option could help.
Rethink Your Players
If finding the connection points between buying roles in this way is overly difficult, it might be time to revisit your personas. (We’ll talk more about that in a future post.)
Regardless of how you slice your personas, today’s personalized marketing approaches require having the content that all those stakeholders need, at the stages they’ll need it.