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What’s important in Content ? Format or Relevance

What’s relevant to age in the funnel and has marketers responding to which format drives the most ROI in buyer engagement.

What is a more relevant question than what type of content works best at which stage of the buying cycle?What type of content would be most relevant to a buyer at any given stage of the buying cycle?

These question can only be answered by asking buyers, not sellers.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that potential buyers don’t really care about format — they care about relevance.

And the way to get relevance is to ask buyers what they want, not to tell them what you think they need.

My recent research into the content preferences of buyers in the enterprise marketing communication space has confirmed that buyers are looking for relevance, not format.

88 percent of the buyers surveyed indicated that how well a piece of content meets their needs is more important than its format (the remaining 12 percent were not able to choose between the two and cited something else as their most important criterion).

What that means is, buyers will seek out information from wherever they can find the highest quality content on whatever format best meets their needs. This lack of bias for one format over another gives you the flexibility to create and convey information in whichever way makes most sense for your target buyer persona.

For example, a marketing executive is likely to respond well to an e-book, which allows him or her to consume it on a schedule that works best with few distractions while they are at work or traveling. Someone who’s just getting started researching how they might benefit from cloud computing technology in their organization, on the other hand, is probably going to want a highly interactive learning experience rather than a substantive e-book. So call that buyer up and conduct an online whiteboard-based workshop. These buyers may consume educational e-books when starting out, but they’re even more valuable in helping the participants get comfortable with dialogues and any sort of depth needed for more advanced concepts.

But there’s even better news about offering buyers the freedom of choice….

Buyers will actively seek out content according to what best fits their quest.

This means that if you offer buyers the choice of where you distribute your content (and most marketers do), they’ll actively seek out the types of content that best fit their information and learning preferences.

So they may want to learn more about your technology solutions online first in a webinar, event or online webcast, and quickly download an e-book after ending that webcast with specific action items. So if you are conducting a B2B marketing program on social media, auto-translate your blog posts into PDFs for folks who have time to read those longer pieces of content at their discretion. That will make your retention higher for those buyers chasing other media properties seeking more text-based and fully laid out written material.

Now, it would be a limited approach and an incomplete view of all formats possible not to note one exception: video. For some types of content and certain buyer personas, video appears to be the buyer’s media property of choice. If so, great! But you must tread carefully. Many companies, go wrong here because they think every second you spend on video are all moments lost without being selling a product.

In fact, I am still frequently amazed that the leadership at many brands are more concerned with the length of their social media post or blog entry and feel the more words you put on a screen…the better of a job they’re doing — whether they’re really adding anything useful beyond pure noise at all.

Sorry folks, if you do this, then you’re politely telling your buyer that your marketing team can’t help them understand the concise important moments in pursuing their business objectives…and by extension the greatness of your company and what it has to offer. You can’t build meaningful relationships with content that doesn’t matter and is fluff essentially becoming noise to a buyer. Having said that, there is one additional element to consider in the necessary advice here…video may simply be not the best format for your content.

Think about it from their perspective: Not everyone who loves a carefully crafted Pixar film makes sure their entire family sees and enjoys it together.

To sum it all up, it’s absolutely important to focus on relevance and experiences instead of using format as a steering tool to create conversations and explorations that weren’t before. Use the medium you’ve chosen wisely and execute to ensure that what is being presented to your audience is meaningful content surrounding why your brand offers value, help, or personal fulfillment — and from there be sure that what you are posting in all its forms…is grounded in the human side of things (which should always be there as well).


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