As humans, we often have this desire to prove to ourselves that we aren’t the only ones making a decision – particularly when it comes to purchases. We want to justify parting with something of value. ‘Herd mentality’ and ‘crowd followers’ are just some of the unflattering things folks have tagged it with.
But it’s not a bad thing. Quite the opposite – it’s smart. And it’s why content marketing works.
Okay, so the hooks we’ve been putting out there have paid off and we’ve been found. Folks with a budget to spend and a need (or want) to fulfill are looking at us, doing their homework on us, deciding in what is often a very short span of time whether or not we’re worth their business. What now?
Cue content marketing principles: at this point, we should be filling our prospects in a little more on the details of what we’re offering actually does for them. And because people want justification, there’s no better time than now to bring out the endorsements.
Case studies. Testimonials. Reviews. Anything that serves to demonstrate – credibly, of course – that our offerings do work. But bear in mind: the purpose of these isn’t to show off. It’s to show our prospects the rest of the crowd. How many others we helped before them, and exactly how.
Like showing SMBs that a premium Rolls-Royce of a brand only affordable by, and intended for, big businesses with deep pockets… isn’t quite that. With a video case study casting the spotlight on other SMBs that have already realized this and profited from it.
But wait. Go up a few paragraphs. Key phrase detected: short span.
That’s key because it means we have no time. Yes, content of a somewhat more technical nature is called for here. But that’s not a license to unleash our inner geek or life-planner. We still need a hook – those don’t end with the net-casting that brought us prospects in the first place. This has to be the star, the first thing they see, and the last thing they think about before they click away from our web page.
It’s powerful enough by itself. Put a hook into it, and it becomes irresistible.
After we’ve done the legwork for our prospects and presented them with rich, unbiased information on our offerings – and even its competitors (as per good marketing principles), time to release an exclusive sneak preview of the way forward.
Along with the need to justify a purchase comes concerns. Filling them in on our offerings and how others have benefited strums that “ah, so this works” chord, but to really make music, we don’t just have to show them what it does. We have to show them what it does for them.
The power of the self. That’s what we, as content marketers, leverage when we talk directly to our audience. As Seth Godin so aptly put it, “the best approach is to write for one person”. This is the part where we need to not only help them relate to others, but also poke the individualist in everyone and tell them the popular choice is right for them too.
It’s about giving them a roadmap. Laying out, from consideration to after-sales, what they can expect from their journey with us. Making it easy to digest – a video, a quick online guide, something that covers their concerns without coming off as sales-y. (Not the time for that yet.)
And while we’re on the topic of the self, don’t forget the nuances of tailored content. Different versions of the same content for different audiences, perhaps backed by retargeting, is another thing that speaks straight to people and helps them evaluate what we’ve got from a personal standpoint.
Content marketing comes into play at all stages of the buying process, but justifying one’s choice (and even potential choices) will always be a constant as far as B2B is concerned.
This is the stage where the evaluation is going two ways. A deeper but still compelling explanation of the offering, with success stories, personalized messaging, and a forward-thinking approach: mix these up and our prospects will have a lot less trouble understanding why others have gone with us (and why they should, too).
Folks can never have too much justification. We want to entrench ourselves on their shortlist before we even think about making pitches, right? Tell us how you’ve done it below.