I finally got a chance on an airplane ride to take a look at Paul Mosenson’s e-book “Digital Marketing The Right Way: an Introductory Primer for B2B” (NuSpark Marketing). It is a nice introduction to essential elements of digital marketing (web site purpose/presentation, SEO, social media, content, lead management), helping the B2B vendor reader understand important elements of a vendor’s online presence (web site, blogs, interaction in the online world) and how customers and potential customers can be reached, drawn in, and held.
I am particularly interested in his comments about good content, because I feel that product simulations for advertising and training can be great, relevant content for a vendor. Regarding content strategy for the new breed of potential customers who make buying decisions based on their online research, he states naturally that “[c]onsistent and relevant content is a key influence when buyers make decisions on vendors.” Okay, that makes sense. He then quotes “B.E.S.T.” principles from Joe Pulizzi, “Content Expert” — I really like the principles, but the title “Content Expert” sounds kind of vacuous):
- B = Behavioral. All content has a purpose; What do you want your customers to do?
- E = Essential. Deliver information that your prospects need and find useful.
- S = Strategic. Your content efforts must be an integral part of your overall business strategy.
- T = Targeted. You must target your content so that it is relevant to your buyers.
Not coincidentally, since product simulations are content, these principles are directly applicable to what a smart vendor should consider in developing an effective simulation aimed at product marketing. It is easily possible to make a simulation and have it not deliver results because it is merely a duplication of functionality, as opposed to a demonstration of how it solves real problems that the viewer/prospective buyer has. That becomes the next section of discussion (nice flow, Paul!).
Paul continues with developing a content strategy by considering the types of people who are coming to your site (or seeing your ads), and then which types of content is going to appeal to each type. That is a nice observation and a useful exercise because when a buyer is considering a vendor, especially with products that take considerable review to procure, there likely will be several visits by different people in the buyer’s organization, each potentially looking for different angles about the product or service. A vendor has to have materials targeted to the visitor (the “buyer persona”, I don’t know if David Scott Meerman invented that, but it is a big theme in his work), but that material has to show up in the natural course of that buyer’s online research, not simply dumped in one big pile of steaming everything that the visitor has to sort out how it is relevant to himself or herself.
The fact that purchases happen over time is critical with regard to formulating a content strategy: what message (and content that delivers it) is appropriate for an early, middle, or late phase of the sales cycle?
Regarding product simulations, I think there is relevance at each of these phases. In the early message, the simulation attracts the buyer because it is like playing with the real product. In the middle message, the simulation deepens the engagement by demonstrating competitive advantages and how the product solves important problems for the buyer. In the late message, the simulations that convert to training tools demonstrate a commitment from the vendor to ensuring safe, efficient, and proper training, which lets the potential buyer see how the product will be supported post-sale.
I wasn’t as much interested in the rest of the primer, but I found it overall a quick read (a lot to absorb!) and definitely thought-provoking. What are you waiting for, go take a look! I’m sure you’ll come away with further insights as well.