By Abby Sorensen, Editor
Part one of this series gave a brief history of traditional B2B publishing models and explained how changing buying patterns and information consumption habits made those models obsolete.
That’s a heavy topic. It helps explain why B2B marketing strategies need to fundamentally change to effectively reach B2B buyers. So, if you work in B2B sales and marketing, you should catch yourself up to speed by reading, “Lessons Learned By A 40-Year-Old B2B Publisher.”
The changes in B2B content consumption habits helped us adopt our “follow your reader” mindset. Over time, this developed into a content marketing methodology called Follow Your Buyer. This methodology is based on four decades of experience serving our readers. Along the way, we made plenty of the mistakes traditional B2B publishers make. Now, we’re trying to help B2B sales and marketing teams unlearn those mistakes that have been engrained in traditional commercial strategies.
To show you what this means, we’ll apply the Follow Your Buyer methodology to you as a B2B marketer working with us as a B2B publisher. Follow Your Buyer is a five-step process that continually repeats itself: identify, learn, help, engage, and understand. Our B2B publishing products and services are customized around these five steps.
- We first help suppliers IDENTIFY target audiences so that the supplier content we serve up to readers is a fit for what they need. That means digging deep to understand who, exactly, you are trying to reach from a market-, company-, and persona-level. For example, let’s say you’re in the life sciences market. Are you trying to reach large pharma companies, or emerging biotechs, or both? Small molecule or large molecule? And who, exactly, are you trying to reach at those companies – executives or people doing benchwork?
- Step two is helping suppliers LEARN what our readers need help with. We don’t want suppliers to tell us what they want readers to know about them. Instead, we help suppliers learn how they can best educate our readers. If your technology or outsourcing services are the best in the market, that doesn’t necessarily help our readers.
- If your content can’t HELP our readers, then we don’t publish it on our platforms. Sounds simple, right? Yet many suppliers only want to write content about themselves that is designed for the bottom of the funnel marketing activities. The fastest way to get ignored by readers is to ignore what they need help with and instead write about your products/services. Let’s say your company can help a pharma company get a drug to market faster. That’s good for you, but it might not be what our pharma company readers want to hear from you because you’ll start to sound like every other supplier.
- Once you have targeted, helpful content, it’s time to get buyers to ENGAGE with it. Buyers seek information about the buyer’s journey before visiting your website or engaging with your sales team. That’s why you need to distribute your content in the places your buyers are most likely to be present (and many engaged buyers are present in our audiences). This is the stage where a B2B publisher’s platforms, products, and services can help. No two partners have the same marketing plans. The way we help you write, distribute, evaluate, and act on your content is a highly customized process to ensure that you are engaging with the right readers at the right time.
- The UNDERSTAND stage didn’t exist in traditional B2B publishing models because you can’t track buyer behavior through print ads, banner ad impressions, or email open rates. To put it another way, it was impossible to measure ROI in traditional publishing models. We don’t just send over a spreadsheet of leads – the combination of our proprietary software, helpful business development reps, and data analysts help you identify trends, look for buying signals, and evaluate the performance of your content. When you truly understand your buyer, you can continue identifying, learning, helping, and engaging that buyer again and again.
In a perfect world, these five stages align your content with our audiences and, as a result, you would be able to identify who is ready to buy, when they are ready to buy. You can read more about that perfect world here: “Imagining An Ideal Application Of Behavioral Analytics In B2B Marketing.”
We’ll continue to strive toward this ideal even if the rest of the B2B publishing world is more concerned with vanity metrics and outdated strategies.
We’re striving to help suppliers achieve this perfect vision of B2B sales and marketing.
We’re striving to help suppliers write and distribute content to make them a true thought leader.
We’re striving to help suppliers track real ROI from their marketing investment.
We’re striving to help suppliers get their sales and marketing teams on the same page.
We’re striving to help suppliers uncover purchase intent so they know which leads to prioritize.
We’re striving to help suppliers operationalize data in a way that makes marketing a more important function than ever before.
We’re striving to help suppliers build brand awareness through content marketing.
We’re striving to help suppliers connect with our readers early in the buyer’s journey so they can help each other grow their businesses.
If this new B2B publishing model sounds complicated, that’s because it is. It was much easier to print magazines and buy lists of names and sell ads. It’s much more rewarding to help our readers – the buyers of complex B2B solutions and services – connect with the suppliers of those solutions and services.
In fact, we don’t even think of ourselves as a “B2B publisher” anymore. We’re a media services and data analytics company that helps B2B suppliers execute effective marketing strategies. That can be done when you Follow Your Buyer.