Battle for Attention in B2B Marketing

By | October 12, 2010

Diana Huff, always on top of interesting B2B Web Marketing happenings and insights, in a post entitled “Win the Battle for Attention by Creating Engaging Content“, points to an interesting e-Book from a UK-based B2B technology marketing agency: “The New B2B marketing Manifesto: Five imperatives and six staples you need to win the battle of attention.”

The premise is that from a B2B marketing perspective, we are living in a new world in which old rules, or ‘conventional wisdom,’ do not apply.  Today, it is about competing for attention, and the community’s attention span has been reduced significantly.  The part about throwing out conventional wisdom sounds to me to be an overly dramatic statement–I believe some of the marketing efforts in the past that focus on relationships can be transformed in the digital world–though I certainly agree that the landscape has shifted enormously.  We as B2B marketers have to adapt to new ways in which buyers get exposed to our messages, and how marketing efforts are tied more closely with accountability.

The new B2B marketer — as the e-Book explains — is “the engine of the company”, owing to the increasing importance of information, which the marketer controls (in my words, through crafting the message and the coupling of information dissemination and market feedback).  The core challenge in the current Internet environment, is about competing for attention.  Diana Huff summarizes it well:

To get someone’s attention, you have to earn it. And you do it through engaging content that explains why you do what you do, is genuine, fresh and insightful (versus being warmed over and dull), and that goes beyond digital — as in, it ties together the offline and online worlds we all inhabit.

Coupling the limited attention span of viewers with the need to gain attention, I would argue that engaging content has to be centrally about how the product or service you make is relevant to the prospective buyer (pretty much common sense).  This naturally points to methods that convey the product experience in ways that buyers can demonstrate it solves their problems, for example, using simulations that are embedded in real customer stories/issues.  Games and tricks will only go so far, and could distract the buyer long enough to lose his or her attention (or divert focus away from the compelling need your product fills).

In the e-Book, Velocity develops and explores the idea of the “WIIFM filter”, or “What’s In It For Me?” filter.  What does the buyer get from engaging your content?  Velocity proposes it has be one (or both) of the following:

  1. This will be useful to you.
  2. This will be entertaining.

Though I think the e-Book is very good already, if I were asked how to improve it (or follow-up to it), I would have liked to see more of discussion about the role of entertainment in marketing pieces and the danger in which it can eclipse the message.

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