We’ll get to talking about the Follow Your Buyer methodology that helps B2B companies attract, influence, and establish loyalty among their customers throughout the entire buyer’s journey. But first, a little about me.
Recently I was the chief editor of Software Executive magazine, a publication covering the business challenges of B2B software companies. I proudly took a copy of the first issue to my 80+-year-old grandmother. Standing short at 4’9”, she was very Italian and mostly didn't have a filter. She quickly thumbed through the issue, looked at me point-blank, and observed, “You don’t know anything about software.”
In fairness, she wasn’t wrong. “But I talk to smart people who do know stuff about software, and I just write what they say,” I shot back. The response seemed to appease Grandma. That is, until I told her I would be taking on a new role, one centered around content marketing. True to form, Grandma asked, “What do you know about marketing?”
This time, I was armed with some answers.
First, I work for a company (VertMarkets) that knows a lot about marketing. We’ve been doing the B2B publishing thing for longer than I’ve been alive. Actually, we were the first online B2B publisher, when we launched WaterOnline in the mid-1990s. It’s not hard to find those smart people who know stuff about marketing and can tell me what to write about, because they sit all around me.
Second, I do a little marketing for my part-time gig as an assistant college golf coach at Allegheny College. Basically, I chaperone 18-to-21-year-olds, drive them to and from tournaments, and pass out Gatorades while they compete. I have to flex a lot of marketing muscle to convince teenagers (and their parents) to spend $60,000+ per year on a private liberal arts school in Northwest Pennsylvania where golf courses can be covered in snow more than half the year.
Three years ago, our coaching staff changed the way we market to high school golf recruits. No more emails bragging about how well the team played. No more fancy brochures about our indoor facilities. No more monologues during campus visits about our school’s 200+ years of history. Instead, we started helping recruits understand the college search process. Our content usually has nothing to do with our school or team. And once recruits engage, we run them through a lead scoring and nurturing process that doesn’t involve boasting about ourselves.
You might be thinking, “B2B marketing has nothing to do with helping teenagers pick a college.” Fair point, and I appreciate the honesty (perhaps you’ve been talking to my Grandma?). But read this comment from Dan Tudor, a well-known college recruiting consultant, and you’ll see that it also applies to B2B marketing:
“Make sure there’s something a little bit different – and special – in the way you contact your new prospects compared to your competition. No selling. This is critical to successful early campaigns. Prospects you reach out to for the first time aren’t interested in being ‘sold’ on your program.”
Our golf team has seen real results from following this “no selling” advice. Our funnel has increased more than 200 percent. Last year, our men’s team freshman class was ranked #4 in the nation, and so far this season our women's team freshman class is ranked in the top 25. We have the largest roster size in the history of the program and our retention has been outstanding. And I recently had this in-person exchange with a recruit at a tournament:
Me: “Hey, great playing today.”
Recruit: “Thanks for coming to watch. That stretch on the back 9 was really tough, but I’m pretty happy with my score.”
Me: “I hope you’re not getting sick of all the emails from us.”
Recruit: “Nah. Your emails are actually helpful because this process is sooooo stressful. All the other coaches just send me spam and crap about their teams.”
How many B2B marketers send prospects “spam and crap” about their products and services? Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question, and there is a lot of bad content polluting the world wide web.
That’s why we launched FollowYourBuyer.com – to show marketing and sales teams how to help a customer accomplish an outcome rather than sell a customer your product or service. We want to help you understand the buyer’s journey. As you understand this – and direct your content marketing strategy accordingly – you’ll sell more, grow faster, and educate your market along the way, all without creating content that is just spam and crap about yourself.
I know it’s easy to write content about yourself because I’ve just spent a few hundred words doing exactly that. And I didn’t even get to cover my maniacal love of St. Louis Cardinals baseball or my dog who is named after a Bruce Springsteen song. I’m human, after all. I can promise the content you’ll find on FollowYourBuyer.com will be written by and for real humans. I promise we’ll do our best to spend more time addressing the challenges of B2B commercial teams and less time talking about ourselves.
(P.S. -- I loved my Grandma very dearly, she passed away in November 2019, and she'd be honored to have you teach me about marketing. I have an open inbox policy: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can be one of those smart people who tell me stuff about B2B marketing that I’ll then write about it. And if you're one of those smart people who want to be even smarter about B2B marketing, then sign up for the Follow Your Buyer newsletter here).