I spend most of my workday discussing the fine art of brand publishing (and content marketing) in relation to a B2B marketplace. Most of the companies I work with design and make engineered systems used in the water and wastewater market. Many companies in this space have been in business for over 30-40 years and have done plenty of conventional outbound marketing over those years. Print, direct mail, hundreds of trade shows, etc. all stand as historic monuments to the standard marketing practices of the day.
Up until 2010, my proposals to use content as a tool for growth were met with a lot of resistance. The marketing departments I worked with produced content that supported the products that their company manufactured. Senior leadership within these companies demanded content highlighting product specifications, technical details and other product-centric content in support of products that stood on their own merit and the skill of the salesforce in selling them.
In today’s market, things have changed. It’s still important to have sales collateral centered on product features. This content is very useful at the end of the purchasing process when your potential customer is hoping to see whether or not your product can be specified into their project. It perhaps addresses 10% of informational needs. But it’s woefully short for engaging potential customers earlier in the buying process.
Notice I didn’t say “customer”, singular. Most purchasing decisions today are made by a committee and that committee is made up of multiple stakeholders. Those stakeholders have their own criteria, evaluation methods, and information needs, especially when considering an engineered system. A black and white features description will certainly not appeal to everyone involved.
Buyers are now living in a self-service and self-research mode, which makes them almost invisible and harder to reach even if you can identify them. How often are buyers looking for engineered systems? It certainly isn’t frequently. Many times, they must be educated on the simple fact that they have a problem in the first place. It’s tough to sell a drill to a guy who doesn’t know he needs a hole. This takes a different kind of content.
When you make a commitment to brand publishing you are sidestepping all of these landmines. It gives you the ability to communicate with, identify and influence the most difficult prospects, in the most difficult period in history to get your message heard, simply by giving them what they need, information that is relevant to them and not just about your company’s product portfolio.
Image credit: "REC IV Week 6 Solution by Bill Ward," Bill Ward, 2015, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/