Don’t be a lemming.
Last fall McKinsey published an article entitled, “How B2B companies talk past their customers.” The piece focused on new research indicating a significant disconnect between brand messages and actual customer needs. There, was also a “surprising similarity” among themes emphasized by leading B2B companies, “suggesting a tendency to follow the herd rather than create strongly differentiated brand messages.” As McKinsey suggests, B2B marketers should be asking themselves is : “Are we telling the same story as our competitors?”
Craft emotionally compelling, differentiated content.
McKinsey’s research reveals that customers and prospects want vendors to behave with integrity and engage in honest, open dialogue with them and society at large. They also want vendors who align with their values and beliefs. To know precisely what this means and how to meet those expectations, you have to both gain an intimate understanding of your target audience, and have a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve. Whether you are shaping your organization’s overarching brand message, or crafting key assets to support sales, here are three vital steps in the ‘damn good’ content creation process:
- Use emotion to drive the effect you want to achieve in your target audienceCopywriting legend Robert Collier famously said, “Before you put pen to paper…decide in your own mind what effect you want to produce on your reader.” Before beginning, be clear: are you trying to influence your audience’s behavior (e.g., follow through on a CTA)? Leverage a pain point or need? Or engage them with a strong emotional connection? Recent research from CEB and Google (see our post on psychographics and driving behavior) indicates the strong – and under-utilized – role emotion plays in differentiating your message and motivating favorable behavior in B2B prospects. Which brings us to the second part of Collier’s famous quote: “[determine] what feeling you must arouse in [your audience].”
- Connect into a key value or motivatorCorollary to step one above, is the shaping and framing of your content to connect deeply with the values and motivations informing your audience’s thought process (read our post, Insight selling: Make me care). Renowned advertising executive Eugene Schwartz advised copywriters tap into one overwhelming desire. In his book, Breakthrough Advertising, he stated, “Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist…and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product.”
- It’s all about them – write from your audience’s perspectiveWhen shaping text of any kind, storytelling’s greatest commandment must always be adhered to: “make me care.” Or, phrased more directly, the text must address the all-important, self-serving interest of the reader by answering, “What’s in it for me?” From your audience’s perspective, you’re selling results, not a product or a service. Granted, it’s a nuanced difference – two sides of the same coin – but the framing is vital. Lead with the results that matter to your target audience and you’ll be far more likely to engage them to read further. But understand which of their values or motivations these results tie into, and you can hook them emotionally.
And the moral is…
The moral of the story here is, in crafting your content, you must connect with the emotional, value-driven needs already motivating the behavior of prospective business buyers. And in so doing, you can provide buyers with the type of brand messages they seek, while breaking away from the herd and in no danger of becoming a lemming.
Prospect surveys are an effective and efficient method of learning more about your individual business buyers, while also gaining a larger understanding of your target segment.
SimplyDIRECT with its subsidiary Gatepoint Research designs, drafts and deploys opt-in, invitation-only surveys to management-level executives within our clients’ target companies. Using web, phone and email-based data collection, its cutting-edge IT trends research and data analysis helps in the generation of custom reports and thought-leadership content.