Tell stories – but also answer questions with your content marketing

November 18, 2014 4:46 pm

‘Tell, don’t sell.’ It’s is a phrase you’ll hear a lot on our blogs here on Collective Content. And for good reason.

Your storyThe ‘tell’ is about stories and how to use our natural love of storytelling to make an emotional connection with your target audience through content marketing. You don’t do that by just shouting about how great your company and products are.

We can tell you that from our editorial background but don’t just take our word for it. IDG Enterprise’s 2013 Customer Engagement survey of B2B tech buyers showed 82 per cent find it ‘somewhat’, ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ challenging to locate trusted information on products and services to help inform a purchase decision.

The three biggest challenges to finding that trusted information were cited as:

  • too much marketing hype/buzzwords
  • a lack of truly independent unbiased information
  • information being too general

Answers, answers, answers
It’s that final point that brings me onto the main theme of this post. To bring home the bacon, those stories ultimately need to answer questions. It’s well and good avoiding the hard product sell but it’s important not to go too far to the opposite end of the scale, being too bland and general.

That’s about doing your work on buyer personas and the evolving B2B purchase cycle. According to Forrester Research today’s B2B buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90 per cent of their way through that journey before they even reach out to the vendor. Often they put off that call until they’re ready to ask for quotes.

We’ll say it again – your buyers don’t care about your company or your products when they are in the research phase of a purchase.

At a very basic level, think about how we all use search engines and other online sources. Quite often it’s in the form of a question. Don’t just write for search engines but content marketers need to know what questions their audiences are asking and provide balanced, informative and engaging stories that answer those questions.

Across most B2B industry sectors there are some perennial questions that buyers are always looking to answer – how to reduce costs, how to increase efficiency, how to boost productivity. Work back from these underlying questions and relate them to the topics and purchase categories that your buyers are researching.

That could be a series of ‘how-to’ guides, interviews with their peers talking about how they have tackled similar projects and problems. The types of content will vary across the buying cycle, often with buyers drilling down into more detailed specific technical product guides later in the process.

That’s a subject for a whole separate blog post. For now simply try to be useful to your buyers when it comes to B2B content marketing. Know what their pain points are – the problems they are trying to solve. And have relevant content ready to answer those questions wherever they are in the purchase cycle.

*photo credit: _Fidelio_ via photopin cc

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Tagged with