A common issue in B2B companies with a complex product or service offering is whether or not they can outsource content production that will resonate with prospects.
Producing content in-house isn’t really a viable option because the thought leaders in the organization don’t have the time (or the skills) to write.
Outsourcing to a writer hasn’t been a great option either because even though at first it seems like an inexpensive alternative, it becomes cost-prohibitive when you consider all the time and effort to educate that person on your product and industry.
Most companies don’t consider that the hourly rate that you’re paying to these people is not actually in the heads-down writing portion of the task at hand—it’s in the weeks if not months of consulting time to bring that person up to speed where they can begin writing in the first place.
And we’ve heard countless stories where a company has outsourced content development it in the past and have been less than satisfied with the results.
But today’s B2B company knows that they need to produce ongoing, thought-leadership content to engage with prospects and create a competitive advantage, so how can an outside entity produce content when they are not experts in the product or industry?
It’s a fair question, but I would argue that it’s also the wrong question because It speaks to how content has been produced up until now, which was largely based on on features, functions and benefits of the product or service set.
The right question to ask is how can we effectively communicate our solution to prospects to demonstrate that we understand their pain?
Content marketing is more like producing a magazine and less like producing an advertising campaign. It’s not about your product and service because the early stage buyer doesn’t care about that—yet.
It’s about telling stories, creating curiosity, solving problems and adding value—just like any good story that you want to read in your favorite magazine.
This is where a good content strategist and development process comes in because she knows how to interview the thought leaders in your organization to identify not just the specifics of your product (what the widget does and doesn’t do), but also understands the issues of your prospect and can communicate that value by using sound journalistic principles (which is why many companies like Apple are hiring journalists to produce relevant content on a regular basis).
Of course, there’s going to be a time when you can talk about those widgets and what they do and don’t do with that prospect. But an early stage buyer is trying to solve business problems, so whether you’ve gotten their attention with an email or they’ve found you through organic search, they are only interested only in solving their problem at hand.
Our job as content strategists is to identify what those high-probability pain points are so that we can develop content that they will be interested in consuming.
In our process at Sales Engine Media, once we’ve identified those topics through phone interviews and journalistic style video interviews, we can now use all of that information to identify the ongoing narrative for thought-leadership content and create source material using internet research to fill in the gaps—just like the editor of a magazine.
The goal of content marketing is to start conversations with prospects where they say, “Hmm. This company gets me. They understand my problems. I’m interested in finding out more.”
Now when they start consuming more content the goal is to transition them over to that professionally trained sales rep where they can have the real diagnosis conversation—once they’re engaged, now you can talk about what you provide to see if it’s a fit.