There’s no such thing as a ‘decision-maker’ in B2B marketing. At least, not in the way that you think.
For B2B marketers everywhere, one of the main content marketing challenges is getting the people with true decision-making power to read your assets. These are the people your content needs to reach. After all, they’re the ones deciding whether to purchase whatever it is you’re offering. This is why – for the majority of assets – one of the first decisions being made is ‘who is the target audience’.
This is likely all very familiar, but how familiar is this scenario?
You’re starting the next asset in your content pipeline and are about to assign your target audience. If your experience is anything like mine, you will have noted them down as the ever-vague ‘C-suite’ or ‘VP’ at least a few times in your career. Now, let’s be honest with ourselves. How often has being this ever worked out?
In reality, it doesn’t work and we’re resorting to being vague because:
- We don’t know who the decision-maker is
- Aligning with the real B2B decision-making process can be a lot of work.
To understand why this is, and what we can do better, let’s review what we really know about B2B decision-makers and how they make purchasing decisions.
What do we know about decision makers?
Let’s start by debunking some myths. Much of this, you may already know.
MYTH: There is a single B2B decision-maker
FACT: On average it takes around five people to make a B2B purchasing decision.
MYTH: Decisions are made instantaneously.
FACT: B2B purchasing decisions take months and go through several stages, such as education, planning, evaluation, and so on.
MYTH: B2B decision-makers are all in the C-suite.
FACT: B2B decision-makers are spread across all levels of an organisation. Earlier stages of the B2B decision-making process are usually handled by less senior employees.
Clearly, we know a lot more about B2B decision-makers than we think. Most importantly, we know they’re not just one person at the top of an organisation making a snap decision. Instead, it’s a drawn-out process with numerous stakeholders from all parts of an organisation.
How do companies make buying decisions?
Based on Gartner’s B2B buying journey: https://www.gartner.co.uk/en/sales/insights/b2b-buying-journey
What does this mean for B2B marketers?
This complex decision-making process creates several challenges for B2B marketers. Above all, it means that your content has to has to target multiple stakeholders – who all have different requirements when decision-making and have different levels of experience and knowledge.
For the mid-level managers who are trying to identify the problem, your content needs to educate. What is their business missing? How can correcting that need help drive revenue or meet cost-saving objectives? They don’t want all the gritty detail about how your product or service will get it done – they just want the top-line benefits.
For the lower-level employees, who will most likely be the ones using whatever you’re offering, they will want details. This isn’t about how they can target business objectives, but all the practical considerations of using your product or service. Remember, while these stakeholders are important, they don’t ultimately have the budget or authority to make a purchasing decision. They just feed information to more senior levels.
Senior decision makers are, as you’d expect, pressed for time. These are the C-suite execs or VPs who aren’t going to dedicate more than a few minutes reading your content. They aren’t going to read whitepapers or 1,600-word blog posts. They want the information in a digestible format. The important thing to note here is that they likely aren’t going into any of your content cold. They will be viewing it on the recommendation of their employees.
How to get decision-makers to read your content
You may have noticed that the decision-making process has a distinct shape. There are multiple stages decision-makers must progress through, where they have unique objectives that move them towards a purchasing decision. Funnily enough, this looks quite a lot like a content funnel!
If you’re familiar with the B2B content marketing funnel, this should tell you a few things. To start, you can’t rely on a single piece of content to be all things to all people. Instead, you need a range of assets that serve different objectives. Each one should be tailored to the needs of the person who will be reading it. As such, pick an appropriate content type, topic, level of detail, and distribution method to help it serve that objective.
At the top of the funnel, you can use social media, nurturing emails, and infographics to educate managers on the business need. Once they’re on board, you can use case studies, webinars, and video demonstrations to convince those lower-level employees that they would like to use your product or service. And finally, you can use that long-form detailed content to provide the final pieces of information to motivate a purchasing-decision. (Remember, the C-suite will likely be reading a summarised version of this provided by an employee, not the asset itself).
So, how can you get decision-makers to read your content? You can start by understanding them better. Consider them on an asset-by-asset basis. Which of the many decision-makers will this particular piece of content be targeting, and what will they be using it for? Which of your content will they likely have read before this one, and which one would you like them to read next? Ultimately, you just need to put the time in to understand where each piece sits in the content marketing funnel.
If you would like to discuss how Isoline can help you reach your decision makers, get in touch with: [email protected]