Demand Gen Perspectives: Stephen Banbury on Delighting Customers
In its annual survey on the state of content marketing, the Content Marketing Institute asks B2B marketers about their top challenges. Consistently, survey respondents report that finding quality content is a top challenge (the 2016 survey lists engaging content as a challenge faced by 60% of B2B marketers).
We set out to ask respected marketing leaders with deep experience in demand generation to talk about what makes quality or engaging content. What are the attributes, how do you create it, and why is it so important?
What is quality or engaging content?
At the end of the day, it comes back to delighting customers. Do you understand the customer journey and are you presenting content that’s valuable? It could be aesthetically pleasing, emotionally resonant, or it could be more functional—all of these things (one hopes) ultimately drive revenue.
What about the outcomes you’re looking for?
It could be that you’re already a customer, so how can I turn you from a customer into an advocate of my brand or product? Or, how can I create more loyalty so you’ll come back and shop repeatedly? Of course, some of it may just be part of the journey to acquiring a customer, so it’s conversion.
How do you achieve those outcomes? What’s the thought process?
You have to work across all the different mediums. So you think about what kind of content our customer needs across the entire customer journey and experience. And then: How much content do we need to produce and how often do we need it? We also think about what format we should deliver it in, because it’s a multimedia world. And we need to tell a story. Storytelling is a real art and how the value is articulated. The value isn’t the features and functions or the speeds and feeds; it’s derived in the telling of a story.
It’s that emotional connection or emotional resonance that is powerful. As leadership expert Simon Sinek puts it, the great brands don’t tell you what and how they do, they tell you why.
What characterizes successful content from a demand gen perspective?
As you build out a content calendar and create customer journeys and nurture programs, you should be thinking about these activities from your customer’s perspective. What’s the customer problem you’re trying to solve? What are the unmet, underserved needs of your customer? You need to understand the customer journey and see where the opportunities are to delight customers. That needs to be done from the outside in. You do that not by talking about yourself and what you can do for them, but by talking in their own language. Keep it simple.
And unsuccessful content?
Things that constantly fail are pieces of content that you put out independent of a strategy or plan. They’re just not well thought out. I don’t think publishing a single piece of content in isolation is necessarily a good idea. You have to consider the entire customer journey and think about how you want to show up and where you want to show up.
What’s an example of a great content initiative?
One company I worked at held an annual partner conference that drew people from all over the world. We essentially shot a lot of video of our customers, and we asked a standard set of questions: Why do you like our company, why do you like our products, and so on. But we also asked them to give us their predictions about where cloud services were going to be in five years.
From those initial videos we were able to develop a variety of content types, including case studies, solution briefs, predictions, thought leadership pieces, quotes, infographics, and e-books. So we used one event to create multiple assets and engaging pieces of content.
Everyone’s different when it comes to content. Personally I don’t particularly like big heavy white papers, but that’s just because of the audience I am. We recognized that everyone responds differently. We were very thoughtful in what we were creating and all the different ways we could slice and dice it. We leveraged this content across multiple channels, which gave it longevity. It really resonated.
How can marketers go the extra mile to satisfy customers?
Obviously we know people like receiving information in different ways and formats. But you can take that even further; many of the roles I’ve had are global in nature. I’ve worked for many U.S.-headquartered companies. And often what happens is that we translate an American experience versus localizing it. But there are actually degrees of localization. You have to really put yourself in your customers’ shoes—no matter what country they’re in, what region they’re in, what culture they’re in—and deeply understand that.
It’s actually just being thoughtful, connecting the dots, and understanding that the way you present information is different across regions and countries. It’s tough to do. It takes time and effort, but if you do it well you can delight customers. And delighted customers mean revenue.
At Tendo, we’ve been helping companies develop quality content for a range of demand generation programs. To see some examples and learn more, go to http://tendocom.com/services/#demand-generation-2