Content marketers should consider adding questions to their content marketing surveys that highlight why their solution is a better approach than your competitors.
Some content and demand generation marketers may chafe at this idea. After all, content marketing is supposed to raise awareness, build credibility, and generate website visits by focusing on broad industry trends and insights. If the survey, and subsequent report, talk about product-specific dimensions, won’t it seem more like a product piece than thought leadership? This is a valid concern. However, based on the typical B2B buying journey it may be mutually beneficial to have some solution-related information in your content marketing materials. In addition, more mature markets provide a natural opening for solution-related information.
A common theme we’ve seen in our two decades of conducting B2B buyer journey research is that prospects often don’t pay attention to any content until they start thinking about making a change. In many categories, ranging from business insurance to HRIS systems, businesses take a “Set it and forget it.” Inertia keeps them from proactively evaluating alternative solutions or vendors. If the product or service is good enough, businesses don’t have the motivation to consider their options. Their purchase journey consists of long stretches of inertia, interspersed with periodic spikes in interest in alternatives.
During the inertia phase, businesses pay little attention to the category: They don’t think about how things could be better or keep tabs on vendors or trends. It’s only when something jolts them out of their comfort zone do they reach out to peers and advisors, conduct online searches, read online reviews, reach out to vendors, take sales calls, download white papers, etc. (For more information on this trend see our article in Quirks. How to understand sporadic customer journeys in low involvement b2b categories)
The implication from a content marketing standpoint is that when a prospect downloads your industry report, they have already decided that they need to do something different than what they do today and recognize the potential benefits of using a solution like yours. Therefore, their objective is to identify their options for moving forward and determine which solution makes the most sense for them.
In the prospects’ evaluation process, a vendor’s State of the Market report will demonstrate expertise and knowledge about the category, which are crucial for prospects when comparing vendors. In addition, this type of thought leadership builds credibility and brand equity.
But given that many readers will already be at the stage of determining which solution will work best for them and how to implement it, there is an opportunity to talk about solution-related topics. For example, there may be things that companies often struggle with when they implement a new solution or something they wish they had thought of when they were selecting how to configure their deployment. Providing this type of content would show that you are knowledgeable not only about the sector’s big picture trends but also understand the practical realities and challenges customers face.
In new technology markets, many vendors use content marketing reports to educate prospects on the category and make a case for changing from the status quo. This approach makes sense when the market is still trying to sort out how a new technology or solution will provide benefits. However, as the concept behind the solution becomes mainstream, meaning many new vendors are in the market, and large legacy vendors are offing similar things, this approach to content marketing loses some of its power.
In mature markets, prospects generally recognize that the solutions in the category are something that they should consider. They don’t need to be convinced of the benefits of changing from the status quo. Instead, they need help overcoming the final inertia and hurdles holding them back. Again, this opens the door to insert data related to why your company and solutions are in a better place than competitors to help prospects succeed with a new solution.
Consider the Fit
Including solution-related topics in your content marketing will not be the right approach for every situation or marketing piece. However, it’s worth taking a moment to think through the potential benefits of adding some questions like these in your next content marketing survey.
If you’d like help with a content marketing survey, you can reach us on our contact page.
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