The right marketing messaging can make or break a brand these days. Consumers have so much information at their fingertips that can help them decide if, how, when and where they should buy a product. And B2B buyers have become empowered in much the same way, according to Dean Davison, principal consultant at Forrester, a leading independent research firm. During a recent Forrester Consulting webinar, Davison said that B2B buyers are spending more time researching marketing collateral and materials, such as white papers, webinars, etc. And they are also talking to peers and reading peer reviews about your product.
“They know the pros, the cons, why people use it and what people like and what people don’t like—and they have some anticipated value of what your product is going to bring to the table.” He added, “It’s a very different type of conversation than a sales rep had about 10 years ago, where it was an information exchange about what your product does and how it works.”
Because of that shift, it’s become important for messaging to engage your customers, putting them first in terms of what they need to accomplish and how you can help them accomplish it. During the webinar Davison and Christine Brozek, director and principal consultant at Forrester shared three factors that have an impact on today’s marketing messaging: empathy, scrutiny and unity. Let’s take a look at what each of these means for your content marketing strategy.
When buyers first engage with your website, they aren’t looking for how many awards you’ve won, according to Brozek. “They are looking to see that you can help them; that you can fulfill a need. … They really are looking to see that you hear their problems, that you understand their challenges and that you can offer solutions.”
During these times when events and in-person meetings are no longer happening, she said one of the best ways to engage is through content—specifically empathetic content.
Recent Forrester research shows the importance of empathy. According to Brozek, 87 percent of technology buyers surveyed by Forrester said “understand my business, industry or market conditions” was important or even very important when considering technology vendors. She added that the need for empathy is even more amplified during the pandemic, with buyers wanting to see that you understand their business, their industry and their market conditions in these unusual times.
Forrester also found that 97 percent of the technology buyers said they need to be able to build a business case for a technology investment–and that was prior to the economic effects of COVID-19. Davison said, “Your buyers need to be able to put together a business case—especially during these pandemic times where we all face much heavier scrutiny and closer reviews and approvals on every purchase, every dollar we spend. … What used to require one level of approval, now requires three.”
He added, “So, if, we know that our buyers are going to have this kind of scrutiny, what are we doing to help our sales reps prepare to have this type of conversation? And what are we doing to help buyers know how we fit into their business cases?”
Sales reps currently facing increased scrutiny need to be able to have meaningful conversations with customers; they need to be able to empathize and engage with them.
Brozek said it’s important to anchor thought leadership content with a unifying theme/message, adding that it can help buyers feel connected wherever they meet you in their journey, and it also enables marketers to “do more with less,” with the smaller budgets and fewer resources they are now facing.
“At this point, you want to get the right people in the room and figure out what that transformative message is at the heart of all of your strategy for the entire year,” she said. She suggested using the SiriusDecisions Thought Leadership Development Model, which consists of five steps, to move forward with that process: frame, ideate, assess, activate and optimize.
“So there’s a general framework for how you can think about getting that core message, that transformative idea, ready for prime time,” she said. “Because this is all about getting rid of some of the ad hoc messaging and marketing efforts.”
Ready to start collaborating on creative content? Find out how Hightail can also help you do more with less.