Trust in vendor content is down, but the buyers appetite for content is up, the challenge for marketing technology marketers is to bridge this gap.
Doing some research for a client, I came across this quote from Trust Radius Research, who collate and publish software user reviews.
“Providers are known for their platitudes and less for the substance of their claims, so I took their marketing materials with a grain of salt.”
This quote seems to come directly from a software buyer, and I share it here as it succinctly captures the sentiment of a lot of folks we speak to, our content marketing experience, and what we are seeing in a lot of buyer behavior studies.
However, B2B tech buyers crave content; a higher proportion of the buying decision is happening before they engage or meet anyone from sales.
In this report, the industry analyst Gartner suggests that a B2B buyer spends only17% of their time with a supplier (or 5% to 6% if they have multiple suppliers) and 45% of their time researching during the buying process. This report is consistent with various studies by Forrester and SirriusDecisions (now Forrester) that refer to buyers consuming 8 to 14 items of content in this process.
But the need for content doesn’t stop once they drop into the sales funnel, business development professionals still need content, particularly as virtual selling is a growing sales discipline.
Partly driven by the buyer as evidenced by the previous points as they are increasingly researching virtually, and so any 21st-century sales team has to meet them there with a new crop of tools and techniques from social selling, ABM to Zoom. And of course, as I write this, virtual selling has been accelerated as we learn to live with a pandemic.
This thirst for content is not for just any content that we can turn the handle on the product marketing sausage machine and crank it out. As we know, buyers are only interested in themselves and their problems.
How is choosing this solution going to reflect on them? How will it reduce the risk for them personally and professionally? Will it align them with the industry cool kids and make them look good? And, of course, will it solve their problem?
In most marketing technology categories, many, many solutions can answer that last question of “will it solve their problem”. Vendors put a lot of effort into that one question, with lists of features and a lot of content about themselves and their product.
But, a list of features does not answer all of those other questions, it does not differentiate a vendor around reassurance, risk, and the softer (but critical) emotional needs the buyer has.
They are looking for the story, why they should trust this vendor? Through thought leadership, client testimonials, social proof, influencer, and analyst endorsement.
And, this needs to map across the entire buyer journey from creating the awareness that they have identified a need to the point they decide to buy, not just to the point marketing decides this lead is in the hands of sales.
A vendor content strategy has to answer a wide range of questions, from defining the problem in a thought leadership piece to what an inexperienced business development rep needs in an email template to keep the conversation going.
And, build back some of that buyer trust with a content strategy.
Would you like to build buyer trust through a content marketing strategy? Get in touch, we can help.