Start with the destination of the buying journey

Business goals first

When you’re planning your B2B content, it can be tempting to jump right in and start jamming for content ideas. Stop right there! You will end up wasting precious time and money. Your content needs to engage the right readers and lead them towards the decisions you want them to make. The final purpose of B2B content is usually to contribute to your business. To make sure it does, you need to know what your business goals and key business opportunities are. Every B2B company is different and while some may only sell a single product, most have a product portfolio with a range of products for different customer segments. If your company sells different products, start off with the big picture: which products do you want to sell to which companies? This simple overview will enable you and your colleagues to decide which opportunities have the biggest potential value for your company and our customers – and focus your efforts on them. Your key business goals should be the destinations of the buying journeys. Putting them at the end of the funnel allows you to map out the steps that will lead the buyer there, and to figure out who are involved in the process. This method enables you to make sure each piece of content contributes to the most valuable business opportunities for you and your clients. When all content serves a defined business purpose, things start to happen.

When defining a business opportunity, keep it simple. These four basic profilers should do the trick:

Target industry. The line of business, such as energy, telecom or construction.

Company size. The size of the company affects the roles involved in the buying process. At a big multinational, there is often a separate person for each function whereas in a smaller enterprise, the CEO might be deeply involved in issues concerning finance, technology or marketing. Also, they usually have different business needs and different buying processes. The classical categories small, medium and large can be enough as long as you’ve quantified the limits between them.

Turnover is the most obvious metric, but consider whether something else might be a better indicator for roles, needs and buying process in your case.

Need. The problem, situation or opportunity the ideal client or presumed client is facing.

Product or solution. The product or service that your company can deliver that solves the problem or enables the client to benefit from the opportunity.

A business opportunity matrix.

The figure above shows a simple template for mapping a company’s business opportunities. Your business or marketing strategy should contain useful information for this exercise, but it’s not unusual that there is still some homework to be done. If you don’t know which clients that best fit your different products, using CRM data to create target profiles might be a good idea. If you are pursuing new business opportunities, you probably need to validate the market. Whatever your situation, don’t settle for less than an assessment of 1) the type of companies you want to do business with and 2) what you offer them before continuing in the content creation process.

 

Team up with the right people

The first time a company goes through this analysis and content planning workflow, it’s probably best handled as a project. Appoint a project owner, a project manager, a task force, identify resources, set a time plan and define the expected outcome. The aim however should be to make it a core part of your iterative, always-learning content marketing process.

There is more than one reason to team up with your head of sales, sales managers and the product owners from the beginning:

  • They are usually up-to-date with the latest sales strategy and target customers.
  • They know a lot about what the customer needs and their buying processes
  • They will be able to validate your content ideas and sometimes act as expert sources later on during the production of the content pieces.
  • It is simply a great way to bridge the infamous chasm between marketing and sales

Exploratory workshops and interviews with customers and sales, or other co-workers who know their customers well, is an opportunity to learn, share perspectives and align at the same time.

Do you want to engage your B2B audience and generate more leads? Learn how to go from ’relevant’ to ’need-to-know’ content in my ebook How to Add Business Value Throughout the Buyer’s Journey.

Download the ebook here.

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