Thursday, May 08, 2014

B2B Content2Conversion Conference: Let's Get Strategic

I spent two productive days this week at Demand Gen Report’s B2B Content2Conversion Conference  in New York. As some who spends more time creating content than pondering it, I appreciated the opportunity to put content generation in a more broader perspective.

Sessions at the conference were consistently excellent, which isn’t the case at every show. Here some of the key points that stuck with me:

- Take control of the conversation. Brent Adamson of the CEB presented the Challenger Sales and Marketing models, which have been around for a few years now but still impress me. The gist of the model is that marketers and sales people need to disrupt the normal purchase process by convincing buyers that they’re doing something wrong, it’s costing them money, and the seller’s product can fix it. Without that disruption, buyers will view competitive products as commodities. This notion of disruption is what separates the Challenger approach from conventional solution selling. It gives a strategic focus to your content planning, and readers of this blog know I’m a sucker for strategic focus.

- Measure wisely. Jim Lenskold of the Lenskold Group offered a detailed framework for ensuring that content marketing measurements tie to actual business objectives. The critical point is those objectives vary in different situations, so marketers need to be very purposeful in deciding which measure apply in each situation. In case you’re wondering, yes, that’s a lot of work. But this is one of those “eat your vegetables” situations where there’s not much value in taking shortcuts.  I'm a big fan of other people eating their vegetables.

- Buying processes differ with market maturity. Matt Papertsian of SiriusDecisions refined the now-cliched notion of buyers taking control of the purchase process, pointing out that it really depends on how well they understand what they’re buying. Buyers are in control in an established market, where they can easily assess the alternatives. But when sellers are offering something new, they can – in fact, must – educate buyers about why they need what the seller is selling. This elevates the role of sales people and means they should be engaged earlier in the buying process. It also echoes the Challenger Sales process while suggesting that the Challenger approach will work better in some circumstances than others. Naturally, content should be adjusted to the type of buying process as well.

Other sessions offered practical advice and case histories on how to succeed with marketing content. They were all good, too, but I’m a big picture kind of person. I look forward to applying these concepts at Raab Associates over the coming year.

Incidentally, Demand Gen Report will be moving the conference from New York to Scottsdale, AZ for its next session, which will be February 16-19, 2015. Definitely worth the trip.

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