It’s What You Say and How You Say It: What Family Vacations Can Teach Marketers about Content Format and Delivery
In this guest blog post, Inverta’s Ashley Shailer shares her insights on the challenges marketers face in creating engaging content for their buyers and how understanding your audience as well as you do your own family is the key to content relevance.
I just got back from a blissful week and a half in the Caribbean with my family. 13 of us (8 adults and 5 children under the age of 8) boarded a cruise boat with our bathing suits and an unlimited drink package (the adults, that is) bound for sun and fun.
Nothing brings out the sharey-sharon in me like a family vacation (and an unlimited drink package). There are so many pictures taken, special moments captured, and one-of-a-kind funnies. Because I know my family well, I understand what jokes they will get, what pictures or stories they will appreciate, and I share my content accordingly.
If you think about it, it’s not difficult to understand the importance of content format and delivery if we put it in the context of our own lives. We are all a wealth of compelling content to our friends and family – even our coworkers! With new things happening each day, we have new photos, jokes and perspectives that are begging (that’s right, BEGGING) to be shared with our networks and with different audiences.
Most of us don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach to our content format and delivery. For example, we might know that our parents have a Facebook account but don’t ever check it – so sending them a note through Facebook messenger isn’t effective. Some coworkers will be more receptive to information through Slack, while others prefer email. You might find that you share the same collection of vacation photos through 3 or 4 different channels with different captions just to ensure they’re seen by the various audiences who might be interested. You may even know other members of your network would better prefer to hear about your vacation by phone conversation. You make these decisions intrinsically. Sure, you might miss the mark every now and then (my former boss probably doesn’t care about the 80th photo of my daughter at the beach for the first time. Or maybe he does, who am I to judge?) but you probably get it 85% right.
S0, our own narcissism aside, why are these choices so second nature to us when we create and share our own, personal content – yet so foreign (and often unemployed) when we’re originating, activating and distributing our B2B content?
Here are some reasons:
We don’t know our B2B audiences as well as we know our personal network.
Not surprising, but true nonetheless. B2B marketers struggle with understanding who they’re addressing. Knowing is half the battle, as they say, and content consumption preferences should be combined with any buyer persona or audience identification exercise. Also, be brave and make some empirical assumptions based on the intersection of audience segment and offer consumption – what did they consume most of? When, why, and what channel? This can be a good starting point to improving your understanding of format and delivery preference.
When we create content, we are time and resource constrained.
There isn’t a whole lot of flexibility in creating flagship pieces of content. Creating an eBook or research study is a tough exercise, never mind repurposing it for video or creating a supplemental infographic. Often, we ignore the preferences of our audiences out of our need to get something done (regardless of whether it’s the “right” thing for our buyers).
The need for a “content thing” supersedes the need for a “content idea.”
Most people who genuinely share their own personal content don’t say, “I need to share a picture of my kid today, it’s been 7 days since I’ve shared a picture of my kid, I need a new picture.” In your personal life, the idea or the occurrence drives the content creation. However, in B2B marketing it’s quite common to hear “We need a new eBook or whitepaper for demand generation – what should it be about?” Don’t let the asset drive the exercise. Ideas are hard, so focus on generating the ideas, and the assets will come.
We can’t capitalize on interest in a timely way.
Historically, it was difficult to get real-time visibility into the content topic and consumption preferences of audiences in an impactful way. That said, marketing automation software, rules-based web content management, and point tools such as PathFactory have begun to close the real-time gap when it comes to delivering a custom content experience. It’s getting easier to capitalize on the attention of your audience, and plan an experience that’s conditional to their changing interests.
The degree to which your delivery of ideas is effective in engaging your buyers is linked to your depth and understanding of your audience. If you don’t feel confident in your audience understanding today, invest in the processes and tools to improve it.