Remember the last time you sat down and actually hand wrote a note to a good friend? As your hand danced across the page, putting down those words and sentences in cursive script, I bet you didn’t think an extra second about personalizing that message – it just was. Now, as B2B marketers, we’ve all learned the importance of providing each member of a buying committee with content that is personalized to their role and function in the decision-making process. The problem, however, remains one of scale. How can this massive content development process (a list of 5,000 target accounts might represent over 25,000 individual businesspeople) be accomplished effectively?
We also know how important it is to deliver the right content at the optimal stage in the buying journey. But, again, let’s face it: we’re not always going to be able to predict that process because it’s not always linear. A qualified account may regress, change their pace, or bounce around a bit as various participants in the decision-making process bring out questions, present solutions from other companies, and deal with budgetary or other organizational changes.
If you address a concern, say cloud-based data security, brought up by one member of the buying committee, then will your answer be communicated to the others on the team? You don’t always know. You can, however, gain a measure of control over the prospect’s collective journey, or at least provide some gentle but effective guidance, by means of the content you produce.
Start Creative, Stay Creative
First, to build out a targeted content marketing campaign, marketing and sales teams need to work very closely with content creatives, divulging any bit of information that could help to personalize the content. It might be easy to just “use your data”, but siloed data is still a thing in many companies, and it can keep teams from working together with the utmost effectiveness.
Creatives are tasked with personalization based on what sales and marketing know about members of the buying committee; who is on it, their role and function, and what their chief concerns, goals, and possible objections are. Working directly with your sales team, content creators will be empowered to better personalize content for each account and the various roles. Sales will be able to tell you exactly what the most common objections are from each different role and function within the accounts you’re targeting.
For example, knowing that atypical CFO is extremely focused on ROI, it’s important to reference the financial benefit of your solution, even in content intended for members in other specific roles. The marketing manager, for instance, will eventually have to communicate to the C-level how your solution is expected to contribute to the company’s bottom line, and so on.
Messaging that directly addresses known and anticipated questions and concerns of each buying committee member (based not only on information you may have about their role and function, but also on conversations they may have already had with your sales team), will consistently hit the mark.
Practices to Emulate
Again, this is all easy to talk about, but effective execution requires adhering to a few select best practices, and it all starts with having regular meetings and brainstorming sessions on the calendar. Sales reps can share what they’ve learned about prospects and help to generate fresh ideas for personalized content.
Next, to make sure you’re staying on target, develop and continually update a map of the individuals on the buying teams at target accounts – their names, roles and functions. Bear in mind that with longer B2B sales cycles, the roles can change and fluctuate. By keeping a close eye on the buying committee’s journey as a whole, as well as the actual people who comprise that committee, you’ll be able to prudently keep up with the changes.
Do your best to make the journey as seamless as possible while buyers move from one stage to another. Keep your content playlist fresh and interesting, and offer individuals content in their preferred content format, whether it be videos, podcasts, webinars, email newsletters, or whitepapers.
Each piece of content, no matter who it is directed toward, can, and should, be compelling enough that committee members will feel impelled to share it with the rest of the team. With your content thus cross-pollinating across the buying team, and possibly shared with those who have the final say, your rise to the top of their shortlist could occur almost organically.