The Role of Content in the B2B IT Buying Process

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Forgive the redundancy, but Ardath Albee has another good post talking about the role of content in the b2b IT buying process.

She is referencing the recently released IDG 2012 Customer Engagement Study report. One major finding is enterprise IT Decision Makers engage with an average of 10 content assets during their buying process.

Of course all assets won’t come from one company. But the implications for both quality and quantity of content required is important to note.

Four Active Buying Personas

Ardath also points out that this is for a single buyer role. In complex sales, there are often well over 4 “personas” who are active in the buying process. In fact, often, discovery of a key idea or vendor may be made by someone not even on a vendor’s “people map.” Someone is conducting research or crosses an interesting article that is forwarded to the people involved.

But the report also found that buyers want to consume 5 pieces of content before they are ready to talk to a sales person.So having content that moves beyond the initial attraction, or even provocation role, and into a more substantive, educational role, is very important.

Interesting also, the report discovered buyers prefer sales people to conduct follow up calls 1-3 days, or even a week later. I receive pounce calls after registering for downloaded content and appreciate what a turn off that is.

Ardath raises an interesting question about whether companies have content that sufficiently “sets the stage for thinking about the problem and pondering the options for solving it.” I’ve long appreciated her idea of becoming the “anchor” for particular problem areas. This leads to influencing key buying criteria which is often how outcomes are ultimately decided.

Pre-Produce Content Before It’s Needed

A key principle of the content publishing production process we embrace, is to pre-produce content before it’s needed. One of my colleagues reminds me, “your strategy is what you are doing now.” Too many companies are still pursuing a content strategy of event triggered, random acts of content. With today’s online and on demand buyers, this simply won’t work.

Content creation teams are often overwhelmed by the requirement to create for each topic to address several issues, multiple levels of educational detail (3-5 assets), multiple buying stages and buyer roles.

Content creators need a different way of thinking about how content can be created. They need a process different from the “point production” mentality of the traditional content production method.

We have discovered a content supply chain process, which publishers as well as manufacturers have used for years, best addresses these new requirements and challenges. This 2 minute explanatory video explains the new and expanded content requirements in the digital era, that create the need for a new content process.

This post, Improve Content Performance and Operations Output, explains the content supply chain process in greater detail, and with an explanation video.