The stats that frame the buyer’s independent research journey are frightening for us marketing and sales professionals. Why? Because we’ve come to realize that our traditional tactics and communication methods aren’t going to be effective in the same ways they historically enabled the discussion with buyers.
And if worrying about how to inject ourselves into our potential customers’ research and discovery process wasn’t enough to keep us up at night, we’re also thinking about how to trump our competitors at every possible touch point. What we need to consider, according to Brent Adamson, Co-Author of “The Challenger Sale,” is that our real, core competitor is our customers’ ability to learn on their own.
“We need to disrupt learning journey,” Adamson said during his opening keynote at the Content2Conversion Conference, hosted by Demand Gen Report this week in New York City. “We have to show customers along the journey that they’ve missed something, and show them the ways they failed to learn on their own. That’s what we’re competing against: The customer and her ability to learn."
While organizations realize the critical impact of providing content to enable and progress the buyer along the journey, the real value in content is in allowing your audiences to learn about topics and strategies that are focused on their specific business objectives, industries, and even their line of business. We’ve got to focus less on the story we’re aiming to tell, and keenly center our messaging on information that’s more conducive to customer learning.
“The strategy we’ve all been running in B2B marketing has moved from selling individual products, because they can be commoditized, to selling solutions that sell bigger, broader services needs,” Adamson noted. “To do this you have to understand customer needs!”
This isn’t new. But we could use a new way of thinking to, as Adamson pointed out, disrupt the buyer’s independent learning and “unteach” them in ways that are meaningful to their search. “You’re selling change,” Adamson said. “And ironically, it’s the last thing your customers want to buy."
In a time when many deals land in sales reps’ laps in the form of an RFP, here are some tangible tips for the challenger marketer from Adamson’s presentation that will hopefully get you rethinking to support and enable your customers with content:
1. Start by making sure you understand what’s going on with the empowered customer. That’s the heart and soul of the story, the urgency, and the “Why Now?” for your messaging strategy.
2. Keep these core beliefs close to your content: Customer centricity; customer understanding; customer relationships; and customer value.
3, Define commercial insight- The content, or heart and soul, of how you’re going to compete, is your key differentiator and the way you demonstrate your value as a trusted advisor. Rather than looking for smart insights to share with your audiences, build it yourself!
4. Find the right talent- To create the right insight you need the right team, focus on finding subject matter experts who understand your empowered customers and can maximize your efforts in tip number one.
5. Create a content ecosystem- Map out how your commercial insight aligns with your content marketing processes and systems, based on the insights you’re looking to achieve. This helps you support new metrics and KPIs, rethink your lead management process, and measure success more effectively.
“When customers can learn on their own, there are massive implications for sales and marketers,” Adamson said. “It’s a different kind of buying.”
Follow the Content2Conversion event discussion on Twitter with the hashtag #C2C14.