Over 100 executives across multiple industries recently told Gordana Stok at the Content Marketing Institute what they want – and need – from B2B content. Below is an overview of the top five things B2B customers want, based on Stok’s conversations.
1. Build the business case for them. Your B2B customers aren’t always the final decision-makers – they are often gatekeepers who will ultimately need to convince a senior executive to buy your product or service. So, while ROI is important, B2B content marketing must also clearly communicate how your product or service solves the customer’s problem. Rok recommends several approaches for making the business case: the parts-whole relationship, compare and contrast, pros and cons, and case studies.
2. Tell them in 90 words or less why they need you. There’s a lot of competition out there, and your B2B buyers know it. When they scan content they’re looking for reasons why they should or shouldn’t eliminate you from consideration. But because of the nature of the Internet, marketers have a very short window of time to hold a prospective customer’s attention: about 3-7 seconds. To get your value proposition right, you must truly understand a few things: what their buying criteria are; how those criteria impact their business; what the “ideal solution” looks like for prospective buyers; and what is the top thing that sways a customer to choose a vendor?
3. Give them in-depth product information. This might seem like it contradicts the 90 words or less rule, but it’s actually the next step in content marketing – what you give a prospective customer after they’ve decided to stick around for more information. At this stage, B2B buyers told Gok, they want to know the depth and breadth of your products or services in order to determine whether your company can meet all or most of their criteria. This involves much more than just stating the benefits, but it also involves a delicate balance providing in-depth information without overwhelming buyers. To do this, Gok recommends layering content to include:
- An overview page, which includes the value proposition and a bulleted list of buyer criteria
- A “how” page, which explains how your product or service meets each customer business criteria
- A proof page, which includes industry research, product metrics, and customer benefits
- A deep dive page, which provides an in-depth explanation of how a product or service meets each buyer criteria
4. Provide detailed case studies of comparable companies. The key to persuasive case studies, according to the executives Gok spoke with, is detail. Case studies that merely state the problem, benefits and solution aren’t enough to make a prospective buyer contact a sales rep. To move a B2B customer to the next stage, case studies must include details that illuminate details such as:
- The company’s goals or priorities
- The problem preventing the company from reaching its goals
- The trigger that motivated the company to take action
- Expectations the company had after implementing the solution
- Environmental factors, such as people, processes and technologies, that were affected
- The time, budget and people the company had to get the problem solved
- Challenges the company had to overcome
- Requirements of the company
- How the company chose a vendor
- Benefits and ROI
- Lessons learned
5. Help them sell your solution to stakeholders. Helping a prospective customer market the idea of your product or service, explain the need for it and selling it to “the top tiers of an organization” is tremendously valuable to B2B customers. Here, tailoring the message is important. It is recommended that messages are tailored to four levels: industry, company, department and individual.