Knute Sands

The New Rules & Realities of Sales & Marketing

“The biggest mistake I see with marketing is companies talk too much about their own products and services.”

As the author of 7 books, David Meerman Scott brings tremendous knowledge, real-world insights and infectious energy to the stage. As yesterday’s opening keynote at Content2Conversion in Scottsdale, David challenged the audience to set the bar higher with their content marketing efforts. In his own words, “B2B doesn’t have to stand for Be-Too-Boring.” I couldn’t agree more!

Below I share a few of Scott’s New Rules, including how the B2B buying process has changed, the importance of real-time engagement, and how content marketing just might land you on an Antarctic journey.

The Problem: Wrong Content, Wrong Message, Wrong Buyer

Customers don’t care about brands and services. At least, not as much as those same brands and services think they do. And they sure don’t like what content marketers are producing, on the whole. According to Forrester, 87% of B2B marketers struggle to produce content that engages their buyers. Let’s all pause there (and face palm). On the other side of the equation, 65% of B2B buyers report vendors should curb sales messages, and focus on improving the quality of their content. It certainly sounds like we’re all in agreement.

As David pointed out yesterday, “Many marketers steeped in the tradition of product advertising naturally feel drawn to prattle on and on about their products and services. But I have news for you. Nobody cares.”

If Nobody Cares, Why Do We Keep Producing the Same Content?

If content marketers know their content is ineffective, and the buyers want higher quality content, why do B2B marketers keep producing the same old stuff? David believes it all boils down to fear.  Here are some key things that get in the way of change:

  • Culture is tough to change
  • Convincing superiors to take risks is tough
  • It’s hard to operationalize new techniques

But if you want to succeed, you’ll have to start producing content that speaks to your audience’s needs. Here’s how:

Rule #1: Understand That the Way People are Buying Has Changed

Sociaal Media Post

In the past decade, the way purchasing decisions happen has been completely changed by the web. According to Sirius Decisions, nearly 70% of the buyer’s journey is done digitally. Which means, the impression of your organization is likely made long before a sales professional makes contact with a customer. Consider how the following have become the norm:

  • We research someone online – before agreeing to go on a date
  • We check out someone’s LinkedIn profile before initial business meetings
  • We read a review of a film before watching it, and watch several trailers
  • We read restaurant reviews and browse menus before making a reservation

All of the above holds true in B2B marketing as well. So, where are your customers going to find information about your product or brand?

Rule #2: Educate and Inform

Instead of interrupt and sell, we must seek to educate and inform our buyers. If they are finding information about your organization before you have direct contact, you must ensure that the content they find is relevant and useful. Consider the following facts before developing your content plan (via Acquity Group):

  • 77% of B2B buyers use Google search
  • 84% check business websites
  • 34% visit third-party websites

The Solution? Content is The Bridge between Sales & Marketing

As B2B marketers, we must understand that marketing and sales perform different functions.

  • Marketing = Delivering content to many buyers at once
  • Sales = Delivering content to one buyer at a time

The best way to bridge the gap between sales and marketing is content. Your prospects don’t want to be sold to, they want to be educated! Consider some of the following examples of B2B content marketing.

Rule #3: Embrace Real-time Engagement

As of today, there are 7.2 billion people living on earth. According to a U.N. study, more of these people have mobile phones than functioning toilets.  We’re living in an era of unprecedented change. And it’s literally happening overnight. So, what does this mean for B2B marketers? You have to give your buyers the information they seek the moment they ask for it. Otherwise, you face becoming obsolete.

David’s talk featured a recent and highly entertaining example of real-time content marketing, which came unexpectedly from the Central Intelligence Agency. If the CIA has embraced real-time content marketing, don’t you think it’s time for the rest of the B2B community to get on board?

CIA Tweet

A CIA Tweet in response to Shark Week.

CIA Tweet 2

CIA Tweet in response to Argo winning an academy award.

Rule #4: Give It Away

According to a 2014 study, a full 80% of B2B content is gated. As a marketer, how do you feel when you find the amazing whitepaper, eBook, or infographic you seek only to be faced with filling out 20 form fields in order to access the download? Yeah, it sucks. According to David, it’s time to put an end to forms, and it’s time to stop gating our content.

A Tip From the Grateful Dead 

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In his keynote David featured insights from his 2010 book, “Marketing Lessons from The Grateful Dead”.  In it, Scott outlines how the Grateful Dead became the biggest touring band in America. By adopting some of the following principles, you can apply the same rockstar mentality to your B2B content marketing. Here’s how they did it:

  1. Co-creation: They encouraged their fans to record shows and trade tapes
  2. Built relationships: Built a mailing list and sold concert tickets directly to fans
  3. Event marketing: They created buzz by focusing on their live act, and not caring about album sales

As Scott and co-author Brian Halligan explain, “By cultivating a dedicated, active community, collaborating with their audience to co-create the Deadhead lifestyle, and giving away “freemium” content, the Dead pioneered many social media and inbound marketing concepts successfully used by businesses across all industries today.”

But the key to unlocking their continued success was the fact that they allowed fans to tape, and share their music for free.

Manage Your Fear

Scott concluded his talk with a friendly reminder that we all have fears. Whether our fears are seasickness while crossing the Drake passage in Antarctica, or failing at B2B ontent marketing, facing these fears head-on is the only way we’ll overcome them.

Which rule above resonated most with you?

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