Do People Trump Content in Marketing?

content in marketing

By Eric Wittlake, {grow} Contributing Columnist

The world is digital. We find, research, and buy online. But when it comes to big decisions, we still lean on real people, even if that leaning is often digital.

At the Sirius Decisions conference earlier this month, Sirius introduced new research based on responses from more than 1,000 B2B executives recently involved in significant business purchases.

Now if you live in the world of B2B marketing, you have been inundated with statistics for the last four years claiming sales is being disintermediated by today’s empowered buyer, with statistics like “57% of the buying process is complete before a buyer talks to sales” or “70% of the buying process is now digital.”

But Sirius, to their credit, looked at this again. According to their research, more than 50% of buyers talked to a sales person at the beginning of the buying process. For more complex purchases, the figure increases to two-thirds!

The most impactful “content” according to their research? A sales presentation. Not a video. Not a white paper. Not any of the content we produce as marketers. But a real live presentation from sales.

We are overwhelmed with content today. Courtesy of Google, we have an immeasurable library of information in the palm of our hand. Through reviews or social media, we have a window into the real experience hundreds, even thousands, of people like us have had with solutions we are considering. But for many buyers, all of that is trumped by a conversation with a knowledgeable sales person.

Content’s larger objective

Many of us live in the bubble of the content marketing community that has developed online and through events. It seems we are forgetting how the rest of the world lives. Content, for all of the value it can bring, is a means to an end. Often, that end isn’t a sale, it is the spark for a one-to-one discussion that is more impactful than your content will ever be.

Consider which of these is more impactful:

  • Speaking with an expert, not just watching an expert point of view.
  • Getting perspective specifically for my business, not just reading what another business in my industry did.

If you are marketing a product or service that represents a major investment for your customers, here are some questions you may want to ask and places you may want to go against the current trend:

  • Is there more I can do to connect prospects with sales earlier in their buying process?
  • Can I find you find ways to make my experts available directly to prospective buyers?
  • Can I use technology or data to find an alternative to using consumption of my marketing content as a proxy for interest in my solution?
  • Can I make it easier for people to contact someone directly to learn more?

No, this isn’t about replacing content. Your content may be why a buyer knows you or why they call you when they start considering solutions. But is the opportunity for marketer’s today to go against the trend, to find ways other than content to gauge interest in our solutions and to directly connect with prospects earlier in the process rather than pushing that connection further and further out? I’d love to hear your thoughts or experience in the comments!

Photo Credit: theilr via Compfight cc

Eric WittlakeEric Wittlake spends his days working with B2B marketers and (occasionally) shares his marketing views on his personal blog, B2B Digital Marketing. You can find him on Twitter (@wittlake) when he isn’t working with B2B marketers.

All posts

The Marketing Companion Podcast

Why not tune into the world’s most entertaining marketing podcast!

View details

Let's plot a strategy together

Want to solve big marketing problems for a little bit of money? Sign up for an hour of Mark’s time and put your business on the fast-track.

View details

Share via