Here’s a common scenario: midway into an organisation’s agnostic, vendor-neutral content marketing approach, the decision-makers feel there isn’t enough of a ‘push’ for their brand name or an upcoming product release. So they grab the wheel. The campaign ends up heavy on brand and product plugs and the results don’t impress anyone.
It feels unnatural, for traditional marketers, to go against their instincts and refrain from talking about their brand. If the goal of marketing is to get their brand name out there for greater visibility, why hold back at all?
But agnostic content is one of the key tenets of content marketing. Content marketers need to take the campaign’s reins and convince all parties involved of the benefits.
Almost 80% of B2B purchases are made before the sales team gets involved. Buyers do their own research and evaluations with only one thing in mind – the easiest way to solve their pain points. Specific solutions or brands do not enter the picture yet.
Agnostic content helps establish a brand as a thought leader in this stage. It is very much like journalism – unbiased and with the intent of educating or entertaining readers. Regular publishing helps develop a following, who, it is expected, will turn to the thought leaders as a first reference when they need trustworthy information.
Likewise, the key value in agnostic content is its role in demand generation even before the funnel opens up.
So why does an agnostic content approach get derailed? And what can you do about it?
Often, those accustomed to the old ways think that their brand should be placed front and centre for prospects to be convinced. This might have worked back when there was less competition. But not in today’s ad-saturated market, where the typical audience response is an ‘emotional unsubscribe’.
Sometimes, new products get rolled out midway through an ongoing campaign, and said campaign gets eyed as a convenient channel for promoting them. ‘Piggybacking’ a new product release on an existing campaign can be easy to justify – in terms of optimising marketing resources – and hard to resist.
It is up to content marketing teams to champion the agnostic case from the word go.
However, agnostic content may not be for everyone.
It is most effective for B2B purchases with longer sales cycles. If your buyers are impulse-based decision makers with immediate problems to solve, then it might be more effective to focus on your solutions and their benefits instead.
For longer sales cycles, multiple decision-makers are to be influenced at multiple touch-points. Moreover, the traditional sales funnel is no longer linear and leads move in and out in a zig-zag fashion. Faced with a need, a lead might browse solutions and compare prices, and then forget about it for a month – only to come back to make the purchase later.
To nurture the lead down such a funnel, you need a different approach. And this is an all-or-nothing approach – all it takes is a little deviation from the agnostic path to undo a lot of good traction.
We have come a long way from the days of beating down on your prospects’ heads with brand names. Today’s buyers are clever and sensitive to self-flattery. Which means the only way to earn their trust is to follow the first rule of branding – you do not talk about your brand.
Read more: Content marketing solutions from GetIT Comms.