Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Creating Content for the Buying Committee

Creating Content for the Buying Committee

Most B2B sales are not decided upon by just one person. Often a committee of folks is involved, both during the initial decision process and further down the buyer journey, during the purchase process. As many as 8 or more participants weigh in internally before a final “Let’s do it” is heard.

As frustrating as this is for sales, it’s even more frustrating for marketers trying to:

  1. Identify these committee members and 
  2. Serve them relevant content

Unfortunately we usually only get access to just one committee member, the person who is raising their hand. He or she has clicked thru one of our emails, filled out a form, attended a webinar, etc. and made themselves known.   

Let’s call this person the Champion.

Sirius Decisions has identified a total of 4 committee member types:

  • The Champion
  • The Influencer
  • The Negotiator
  • The Ratifer

So how do you send relevant content to these people, at the correct time they need to see it, without even knowing who they are?

You can’t. Not unless they raise their hand too. Sorry.

So, we are left with 2 approaches to ensuring relevant content is sent to the right person at the right time:

  1. Enable the Champion as our “Content Distributor”
  2. Populate Social Media, as well as your own website, with easy to find answers to likely questions from the Influencer, the Negotiator and the Ratifier.

Creating the Personas
The first step is to create personas for each of the 4 committee member types. Ask sales what keeps each one up at night? What do they want answers to? What content tools can you provide that will help answer the question, “What’s in it for them?” Once we know what list of concerns each committee member type has, we can create specific content to address each one of their concerns.

Converting the Champion to “Content Distributor”
Once the Champion has initially raised their hand, the next step is to add them to a nurturing/scoring program that feeds content, directed at them initially. This is typically Thought Leadership content. It’s never about you at this stage, it’s always about what you can do for the Champion. The goal is to provide enough credibility that your company makes it to the short list of evaluated vendors.

Focus on content that is appropriate not only for the Champion, but for the Influencer as well. The goal is to get the Champion to pass your Thought Leadership along to the Influencer. 

Don’t forget, the Influencer is searching on their own, so make this content easy to find on your website as well, along with targeted Social Media, just in case you haven’t converted your Champion to “Content Distributor” just yet.

Content that makes the Champion look like a hero will get forwarded more often than “non-hero” content. So what the heck is Hero Content? “Hero Content” has to be good enough to warrant a “Hey Influencer,  look what I found” reaction from the Champion.

Assuming the Champion progresses through the buyer journey and is engaged with your nurturing content, at some point the lead’s internal Decision Process shifts to a Purchase Process. The trouble is you may not know when this actually occurs. The Champion may have scored very high at this point, but the Purchase Process committee members may not have even weighed in yet.

Based on what you and your sales team know about your own sales cycle, you can send a Purchase Process trial balloon email to the Champion when the time feels about right and see what the response is. Did the Champion click thru to the ROI calculator? Did it appear as if they may have forwarded the email?

If so, now is the time to leverage your Champion to distribute content relevant to the Purchase Decision group. ROI calculators, ROI Case Studies, Financial risk aversion content. It’s all about the money. 

Once again, this group is searching on their own as well. Make sure this type of content is easy to find, not only on your website but on targeted Social Media as well. Hero content works best here too.

Just because we don’t always know who the committee members are, we can use this strategy to convert the Champion to our “Distributor of Content” to those behind the curtain. Content creation should therefore be focused on serving the following committee member types:

The Decision Process
·       The Champion
·       The Influencer

The Purchase Process
·       The Negotiator
·       The Ratifier

This will help define the What. Leverage MA to define the When.

Visit mybrand new website and learn more about marketing segmentation best practices.

Steve Kellogg
-Demand Generation/Marketing Automation Consultant, Astadia
-Eloqua Certified Marketing Automation Best Practices Consultant

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