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Are You Writing The Stories Your Customers Want To Read?

  • Written by Terry Moffatt, Contributing Editor
  • Published in Blog

Already a couple of weeks into the New Year, it’s likely that most content marketers have their editorial calendars filled out. But if you’re still at a loss for what stories you should be telling in 2018, a survey by the Aberdeen Group and PJA last Summer offers some hints on the content decision makers are seeking.

According to their research, B2B buyers are looking for a lot more from vendors than the specific product or service they offer. More than two-thirds of the respondents (68%) said they are looking for vendors who can help their companies sharpen their competitive differentiation.

Other findings showed that:

  • More than half (55%) expect vendors to help them identify new possibilities and avenues for revenue;
  • 52% are looking for vendors with a vision for making the related category better; and
  • Roughly 40% are attracted to vendors who communicate an appealing long-term technology vision.

People In The Know

Sourcing information for content that addresses these customer preferences might not be as challenging as you think. For example, a sit-down with some of your more experienced salespeople can give you extraordinary insight into what top-performing companies are doing, which future opportunities they’re addressing, as well as the things that are keeping their leadership up at night.

Salespeople are usually pretty good at discovering what their customers are thinking about. Talking to them about what their clients’ concerns are should give you a long list of hot-topics to covers.

As Aberdeen’s Director of Content Strategy Matthew Grant wrote, vendors can serve as a window into what other companies are doing. “After all, they’ve actually spent time inside the walls of competing companies.”

If your colleagues over in Research and Development are doing their jobs, they already have an idea of what your customers are thinking about. And the chances are good the research they’ve already done will give a good idea of future market conditions and customer requirements. Sharing their insights will position your company as a forward-thinking business ready to help customers optimize future opportunities.

Corner Office Conversations

A conversation with senior management can help to produce similar content. Schedule quarterly interviews about the challenges or opportunities they see ahead. And when major news or business events occur, ask them to comment on them to create the kind of timely posts that position your company as a vigilant business partner.

Marketers should also partner with third-party experts and influencers to create content. According to our 2017 Content Preferences Survey, content shared by an industry influencer is given more credence when buyers consider how much time and weight to devote to a piece of content. An overwhelming 87% of buyers said they give more credence to industry influencer content.

You cannot overstate the value of case studies or customer comments. According to the survey, buyers’ need to benchmark themselves against their peers and study real-world examples of solutions in action. Respondents ranked case studies as the top content type, with 78% of buyers accessing this format type as they researched purchases in the past 12 months.

Another trend we’re seeing in content creation is the adoption of online reviews and review platforms. As I reported in Channel Marketer Report, a survey from G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing revealed that more than 90% of decision-makers said they are more likely to purchase a product or service if they have been able to read a trusted review about it.

The number of B2B buyers visiting review sites indicated that customer reviews are worth reading. According to the survey, 60% of buyers use review sites, with 82% ranking them as valuable research tools.

Finally, great indicators of what your customers and prospects are interested in knowing are the search terms they use on your website. A monthly review of what website visitors are looking for will really help you identify great stories to tell.