Which is a better story to tell B2B buyers in your online messaging?
- A deeply moving tale about a future in which your product or service solves their most pressing needs.
- A data dump of product features and high-level benefits.
Despite the obvious answer, most marketers are falling short. “Eighty-eight percent of B2B marketers admit their home pages talk primarily about their companies, products, and services,” according to Forrester’s October 2019 report on how Customer-Centered Messaging Helps Boost B2B Revenues By Motivating Buyer Action.
But, according to the research, there are ways to improve the customer-centricity of brand communications. Read on for key highlights and recommendations.
Are B2B Marketing Messages Really Putting the Customer First?
Second, only to growing revenue, the customer experience is a top priority for B2B executives. Yet, businesses are being given an increasingly smaller window—often limited to browser windows—to meet customer needs.
In fact, over two-thirds of B2B buyers prefer not to talk to a seller before making a purchase. Instead, buyers are using online content to evaluate products and solutions for fit. The bad news is that very little brand content meets customer needs.
The report cites 2019 research in which 65% of global tech buyers lament that there’s too much information, and 59% agree that the majority of the content is useless.
Buyers Don’t Feel that Content is Relevant and Empathetic Enough
Telling your content story cannot be a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The best B2B businesses tailor the narrative to each audience segment, changing the plot points in a way that will resonate with specific buyers and have them asking for more.
Each of these riveting stories should hook them with a relevant business challenge, and show how the product or service will help them achieve a desired future state. The good news is that tailoring content for audiences allows companies to lock in better business results—about 50% higher than average.
Not surprisingly, the need to segment content has created a collective push for more content.
B2B Companies Are Talking About Themselves Too Much
But the solution isn’t just more content. It has to be the right content, tailored in the right way to answer the pressing questions of key audience segments. Instead of structuring the product story with the buyer as the star, most B2B stories still feature the company’s products and services in the starring role. In fact, only 14% of companies explicitly define the business advantages that a buyer gets from engaging with their brand.
While marketers know they should design the content experience around specific audiences and use cases, only 36% of marketers are adept at segmented communications. Even more telling: “A paltry 13% use narrative to tell a story, walk buyers through a persuasive argument, or show some empathy with customer concerns,” according to the report.
One way to win over buyers? Use the customer’s language. This is an excellent opportunity to set your company apart as only 28% of companies use the language of the target audience when developing content.
Highlight Customer Success to Make the Biggest Business Impact
Case studies are a proven way to demonstrate the value of your products. So, it’s no surprise that 55% of surveyed companies include customer success stories as part of their sales enablement content. However, the report from Forrester indicates that businesses need to add greater detail to break through.
The challenge in developing compelling content is in creating a context that your buyers care about—a real or hypothetical situation in which your product or service helps to address their very real pain points. For example, consider tying the benefits of your product or service into a key market trend, and provide a step-by-step explanation about how your company helps mitigate the issue.
It is also essential to demonstrate how your product is a superior choice. Marketers need to convince buyers that their current approach is not optimal or sustainable.
“Effective messages challenge those beliefs by introducing unconsidered needs buyers may have failed to recognize—or opportunities they would be foolish to ignore,” said the report.
Distancing yourself from competitors is also imperative. Expose a meaningful difference for buyers (hint: It might be a better customer experience) that provides long-term benefits. Playing up your competitive advantage pays off; marketers who make competitive comparisons are 1.4x more likely to exceed their goals.
A Checklist for Customer-centered Brand Messaging
The great news is that there are huge opportunities for almost any B2B organization to increase the customer-centricity of its messaging. The report recommends the following:
- Be specific about your customer’s pain points.
- Highlight the customer experience in case studies.
- Tap into your current customer base when creating and optimizing your brand messages.
- Train sales force to be solution-focused when meeting with buyers.
When the customer comes first, you’re on your way to building relationships that last. For additional insights on customer-centric messaging, read the full Forrester report.
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By: Steve Kearns
Title: What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Motivating Buyer Action
Sourced From: business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/blog/b2b-content-marketing/2020/what-research-tells-us-about-b2b-messaging-today
Published Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2020 08:40:00 -0800