Faced with too much information and too many choices, customers and prospects can be easily overwhelmed, even to the point of decision paralysis. The job of B2B marketers is to demystify the complex and help buyers make sense of the issues and buying choices available. This is especially true if you are promoting complicated and comprehensive IT services and solutions. Here are three key aspects you need to consider to ensure that your effort to educate buyers works for you and not against you:
Gain the buyer perspective – Know the relevant issues as they relate to your buyer
Determine what information will form your content. Consider the issues, needs, and challenges from your buyer’s perspective and ask yourself the following questions:
- What does my audience need to know to make informed buying decisions?
- What information and different perspectives will provide them the full context?
- What will help them decipher the most salient issues relative to their needs and challenges?
- What information will provide them with the ability to select the best fit among the full range of available solutions on the market?
Keep it simple, inviting, and user-friendly
When deciding on how to communicate your content, keep these aspects in mind:
- Simplicity of words – Esoteric does not win the day. Text that is complicated with specialized industry knowledge and industry lingo, only serves to make your audience work harder to understand you. Avoid industry jargon and acronyms, except to define and demystify common industry terms . Rather, speak plainly and do your utmost to avoid confusion and misunderstanding.
- Simplicity of message – Communicate in digestible bits by breaking down the information to focus on one idea at a time. Begin simply with a central idea and only include information which directly supports that one idea.
- Provide a logical, clear flow of information – Build understanding progressively in a logical manner. Don’t bog down your audience with decision points, but rather provide a clear, intuitive information path for them to follow.
- Be concise – Brevity is inherently more consumable because it’s both more easily processed, as well as more accessible to busy people.
- Entice visually – Text-heavy content can be off-putting as processing it requires a more focused effort. Rather, provide a clean design with high-contrast text. Leverage powerful headlines, meaningful subheadings, and concise text to promote ‘scannability’. Parse the information in reader-friendly manner. Use visuals to convey concepts and ideas more effectively and efficiently, while simultaneously making them more memorable.
- Use different media – Provide for different learning styles and preferences by creating educational content in different formats.
Build trust, credibility, and loyalty by educating, not promoting
Remember to be worthwhile, your educational effort has to be entirely focused on providing value to your target audience and not a thinly-veiled sales pitch (which will only promote distrust, and result in frustrated customers and prospects). Don’t solicit. Rather, build a selfless image with vendor-neutral education by providing the full context of issues and available solutions, whether you offer them or not. Employ supporting material from independent and impeccable sources, and invite industry experts to participate in your educational efforts.
The goal of most customer education programs is to become a ‘hub’ and valued resource – to create an online community engaged with fresh ideas, new perspectives, and fun approaches to learning. In this manner, you can provide a platform where people can interact with both your brand and each other. But take care to adopt an unbiased approach in your educational content and interactions. Education is about helping your target audience understand the relevant context, challenges, and appropriate solutions – not about the promotion of particular features and benefits. But in so doing, you will build brand loyalty and social capital, while opening a valuable new avenue for lead generation.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
Read deeper on this topic:
CMI’s 12 lessons learned from Schneider Electric’s ‘Energy University’ program
Learn which issues are most salient for your target audience, as well as in which areas you can provide them additional value with a greater understanding of relevant topics and available choices. Deploying a skillfully crafted lead generation survey can highlight such opportunities, while also providing you with individualized intelligence for more effective lead generation efforts.