The following is a guest post by Peter O’Neill. Peter is VP, Principal Analyst and leads Forrester’s B2B demand generation and channel marketing efforts. He has been a favored speaker at many seminars and trade shows and is a B2B marketing expert.
Did you know that B2B buyers say that 70% of the content they read and study before making a purchase decision is actually found by – well, themselves? Just 15% (each) is collected from either the vendor’s marketing department or the sales contacts. In a Forrester report last year on content marketing being the new differentiation, I described the new interaction model of need-match-engage, where the buyers now initiate the interaction and spend a major part of their buyer journey doing their own research before calling in potential suppliers.
Discover and Explore
Content marketing is so much more than product and solutions collateral, campaigns, mailings and fulfillment. Marketers must become great at being found by buyers in their early research phase (the phases we call discover and explore). In a way, successful marketers will “fool” their buyers into consuming their thought leadership and educational content in stages 1 through 5 – while hardly realizing its source. And the most successful marketers will learn how to mix their brand scent into that content without appearing to be selling – such that buyers will count it as part of the 70% and not the 15%. (BTW – there is no better company at doing this than Marketo!)
How do they achieve this success? Well, by understanding the buyer journey; by researching the buyer roles and their preferences; and using an “outside-in” taxonomy and point of view; among other things. But marketers find this extremely hard: one third of the marketers we surveyed recently cited “Getting the right customers/prospects to view the content” as their #1 challenge.
In a blog on forrester.com, I offered my reason for this: B2B marketers prefer to stay in their comfort zone and have trouble getting “outside-in” at all. In inquiry-conversations, they also tell me that they just don’t have the resources to do the research; create the content suitable for the buyer’s discover and explore phases. And they have little idea how to deliver it.
The Digital Marketing Service Provider
So, enter the digital marketing service provider to fulfill this need.
Marketers already tend to outsource much of their work and I introduced the term “Digital Marketing Service Provider” about 14 months ago (see below). Now I am noticing that content marketing is a massive opportunity for these providers as they become expert in the above content marketing tasks; sometimes even add teams of content creators; plus being good at using lead management platforms such as Marketo. I suspect that many enterprise marketing teams will be happy to see their content marketing and lead-to-revenue management become externally provided managed services.
Now because Forrester sees the business purpose of successful content marketing as assisting buyers down their journey we see the end result as “revenue acceleration”; which is why I have entitled this blog “Revenue Acceleration Through Content Marketing As an Opportunity for Marketing Service Providers”.
Need more details? Drop me a line. As always, I’d love to hear from you on this and other topics. Also be sure to sign up for my webinar The New Rules of B2B Management Every Agency Must Know taking place on Tuesday, May 14th at 10am PST.
Always keeping you informed! Peter