In our last article we shed light on the importance of building marketing content together with your sales team. In this one, we will show you how to put our advice into practice and create content that sells.
So you have done your market research, curated your content ideas, and made sure they were in (reasonable) line with the sales journey and the Five Fits. Hit publish and be done for the day? Not so fast.
One of the main reasons why content marketing doesn’t bring the desired results (e.g. increased conversions, new leads) is poor timing: Your lovingly created content might simply not reach potential buyers at a relevant moment in their decision making process.
To help you get your timing right, we created a framework that takes the guesswork out of content ideas and timing — by helping you reverse-engineer what your buyers need to see to make a purchase decision.
B2B content is either tailored to persuade buyers of a need to purchase a product — or to convince them of an existing problem which the product would solve. However, simply publishing several explanatory articles that show the scale of the problem or the importance of the solution won’t yield enough reward for your sales efforts. What to do?
We break it down into a “Buyer’s Assumption Set” and create content with the goal to convince that all of these assumptions are true.
What does it mean for content?
For our product/service to be perceived as high relevance, we need to divide our content into two basic territories:
SIGNIFICANCE AREAS: What makes our offering relevant to potential buyers? What are the conditions we need to emphasize? The aim: To assure buyers that this is the best (e.g. most impactful, most easy to apply, most reliable, most advanced) option available in the market.
PROBLEMS AREAS: Yeah, we know they’re called “Challenges”, but people out there actually have problems, too. We need to clearly acknowledge these problems and highlight how our product or service solves them. The aim: To prove that we understand the problems buyers face or are concerned they might face, and to increase the perceived relevance of our solution.
Putting theory into practice: Practical case study
Sounds abstract? Let us show you how this works in practise by applying these principles to an illustrated case study.
We chose a company called “Cherry”, a personalized perk tool for organisations to provide modern benefits to their employees. Even though Cherry is not operating any longer, that doesn’t stop us from imagining what their content strategy could have looked like (…or, considering they’re no longer operating, maybe should have looked like).
Our buyers are HR people in organisations. First, let’s think of what conclusions these buyers need to reach in order to consider our product:
In order to consider our product, they must first of all understand and believe that perks have significant impact on employee satisfaction and retention.
However, there are plenty of other solutions that help with employee satisfaction goals, so we need to narrow it down to an even more specific goal. For example:
Perks can be a strong differentiator for an employer brand.
So there are two conclusions buyers need to reach (and to believe) in order to consider our offering significant:
1. Perks have significant impact on employee satisfaction and retention
2. Perks can be a strong differentiator for the employer brand
However, for buyers to actually consider our product, they must have some problems with their current employee perks system. A logical assumption would be that perks are difficult to manage (for employers) and to use (for employees).
To build convincing argumentation, it again helps to look at it from an even more specific angle. Why are perks difficult to manage and to use? For example because perk systems are difficult to set up and inconvenient to use.
But also because employees are diverse people, and perk systems usually lack personalization and hence perk-employee fit. And last but not least, employees aren’t static, but actually human — and while their needs and priorities change, perk systems are slow to react.
So there are three conclusions buyers need to reach and accept as true in order to consider our offering:
1. Perks are difficult to manage (employers) and use (employees)
2. Perk systems are inconvenient (set-up and everyday use) and lack perk-employee fit (lack of personalization)
3. Needs and priorities change too fast to account for them manually (no adaptable features)
How can we nudge our potential buyer to get to these conclusions?
01 Convince of the existing problem
Nudging our buyer towards the first conclusion: Perks have significant impact on employee satisfaction and retention. To convince of this, we need fact-based proof.
In Cherry’s case, we would conduct a research of perk effectiveness in our target industries and see how perk effectiveness correlates with employee satisfaction and retention.
Such research could cover:
- What percentage of the perks companies offer remain unused?
- What is the correlation between perk systems and employee satisfaction / retention?
- What is the percentage of organisations where perks make no real difference to the employer brand (highlighting employee perk offering overlaps in the same industries)?
Using content effectively
Now, doing such a research requires some investment — both in terms of time and money. It’s an investment worth making if a) it gives our argumentation a solid, fact-based, undisputable fundament; and b) if we make maximum use of this research — by repurposing it to fit different use cases and content formats.
First, we would feature the findings in our social media, targetting potential buyers. This raises awareness of the issues that affect them and showcase the value of our solution.
Then, we would utilize the findings in our sales decks, building extra credibility and proving our market insight and expertise.
Additionally, we would use the findings to train our sales teams so their live sales meetings are fuelled by researched facts. We would publish the research findings on our websites, where potential leads can become familiar with the significance of the problem and possible solutions.
02 Convince of the potential value
Nudging our buyer towards the second conclusion: Perks can be a strong differentiator for the employer brand.
To convince our buyer that perks are a competitive advantage in the fight for talents, we reflect on how perks can be used to strengthen an employer’s image.
In Cherry’s case, we would offer advice on how to use a well-rounded perk system to bolster the employer brand.
“No delay in meeting your employee needs”: Showing how quickly organizations can adapt to new trends and fulfill emerging needs and preferences of their employees. We can do this by showcasing testimonials and stories of our clients’ employees. For example: How perks managed to satisfy their new interests or even help them to discover new hobbies?
“300 employees, 300 value packages”: Showing how personalization can be a game changer for attracting talents. We would for example undertake a desk research to compare what different benefits companies in an industry offer their employees. Most likely, there will be little differentiation in free coffee, foosball tables, partial Work-from-Home time, and gym memberships. Which allows us to show that personalized and up-to-date perk systems can create differentiation and strengthen a company’s employer brand image.
03 Convince of the ineffiency of the current solution
Nudging our buyer towards the third conclusion: Perks are difficult to manage (for employers) and to use (for employees).
Here we reflecting on the pain points of our potential buyers and nudge them towards the conclusion that they put quite a bit of work into managing perk systems — and are repaid with very little value.
How do we do this? By showing what could be. We provide case studies of existing clients and emphasize both the impact our solutions made — and the small amount of effort it took.
Case Study Structure:
- Which perks have been offered?
- Which ones have been most used?
- How has it improved employee satisfaction (number-based proof)?
- How has it improved employee retention (number-based proof)?
- The number of iterations and the time it took to implement?
- HR testimonials
- Employee testimonials
Building optimal Case Studies
The aim of any case study is to keep it consistent with our brand’s value proposition, and to be as specific as possible.
In this case, the underlying message is: Low effort → high value solution.
Even if we ask existing clients for testimonials, we phrase our questions in a way that makes their responses likely to be something like “I never thought that such a small integration could increase employee satisfaction and my daily work focus that much”.
To put it into practice, let’s get back to the Cherry case. First, we think of the problems the organizations we target might be experiencing. Secondly, we remind or convince them that they have these problems — and that these are not only worth solving, but can be solved with little effort.
Cherry’s Significance Areas
The best way to convince potential buyers that there is a problem is to give them the tools to discover the problem themselves.
In Cherry’s case: We would prepare and offer our potential buyers an audit which would allow them to estimate the efficiency of their current perk system.
A simple survey template:
- What percentage of the current perks offered are not used at all?
- What are the reasons?
- How many employees would like to have different perks?
- How many perks are outdated and not worth offering anymore, due to new offerings on a market or changing employee needs/habits?
- How many employees face difficulties using their perks with the current solution, or are not even aware of certain perks?
The survey targets HR people directly. It’s built for them to integrate it into their own processes, and helps them to measure organizational temperature and satisfaction without requiring too much effort.
Cherry’s Problem Areas
Familiarizing a potential buyer with our product and at the same time building trust? It’s possible: Here, we can measure and underline the real impact of our solution.
In Cherry’s case, we would create content which helps the buyer properly set up processes prior to even starting to use our product. This could be a guidebook on how to set up initial KPIs and benchmarks; tips and instructions how to adjust perk systems; frameworks for collecting employee feedback; etc.
Proof beats words
First of all, what we do here is help a potential buyer to set up the mechanics necessary to measure results — from establishing a baseline to building the tracking approach. By doing so, we show that we are so confident about our solution’s effectiveness, we encourage actually measuring the results. In addition, we help clients actually tracking the results without having to invent such tracking system themselves.
But that’s not even all. Helping potential buyers with tracking means that different clients will collect similar data, allowing us to compare and improve our own product. And furthermore, this support for potential buyers increases the probability that these buyers will later share the results with us — this saves us resources we would otherwise have to spend on research, and gives us perfectly good data that we can showcase in future case studies.
04 Prove the need of automatised perk adoption
In order to convince that employee perks need to change faster than could be done manually, we need to prove that employees’ needs change very frequently — and often in surprising ways.
To reflect on these changing trends, we can prepare anonymous insights from our client data: Showing how different industries or roles use different perks, how needs are constantly changing over time.
The same data can be repurposed to suit multiple touchpoints with our buyer: Banner campaigns, reports/whitepapers, interactive tools where users can filter our data to find what’s most relevant and interesting for them. Bonus: These interactive tools are a very handy tool to give to journalists for PR purposes, because they allow journalists to find and strengthen their desired story’s angle from our data themselves.
- Developers during the day, athletes during the night
- Hobbies you’d never guess HR’s had
- From kitchen supplies to opera tickets — what people really need
- From “talk of the day” to “forgotten” — how table foosball in offices came and… went.
- Everything you ever wanted to know about your co-workers (but were afraid to ask)
To sum up
To create marketing-driven sales tools, we need understand the basic category and product level assumptions our potential buyer has and structure them in a way we can work with. We use Significance and Problem Areas to do this.
Once we have these areas mapped out, we know what exact conclusions we want potential buyers to come to when engaging with our content. And these conclusions become the guidance for content that accompanies and supports buyers through the sales journey — from live interactions to digital ones.
Here is a handy cheklist you can use with your team ↓
A practical checklist for creating marketing-driven sales tools
- Map out the most common Problem and Significance Areas in your category
- Map out your product/service benefits in line with these areas
- Think of which tools or content would allow potential buyers to come to the same conclusions
- Check if your traditional sales tools formats (e.g. case-studies) support your positioning
- Check if your sales-related content supports multiple interactions
- Check how your sales-related content can be used optimally, e.g. by re-purposing it across multiple touchpoints and channels
- Check if you sufficiently cover the sales journey from from the perspective of the Five Fits.
As always — feel free to share and test the Significance and Problem Areas content framework with your sales and marketing teams.
Writer of the article, Strategist at Synthesis
Editor of the article, Partner at Synthesis
Editor of the article, Content Strategist at Synthesis