There's an evolving list of all the things you need to consider when developing B2B marketing content. One of the components often discussed is the call to action. And, yes, you still have to do that. What's important to understand is that the call to action is not the takeaway.
A call to action is what you want your prospects and customers to do next.
A takeaway is the specific impression or memory the audience walks away with after reading your content.
A good takeaway is:
- Conceptual - produces an idea your content helped generate.
- Conversational - inspires sharing of that idea in the their own words
- Recommendable - promotes people to pass the content along to others
- Transferable - applicable to their own specific situations
- Visual - something they can "see" happening—not pie-in-the-sky thinking
Quite often I read content that's technically correct. It may even offer some valid insights. But, yet it doesn't inspire me to think of anything on my own. In B2B, that's often because the content is written without consideration for the prospect's perspective.
Content like that usually spends more time telling me what I'm supposed to think than providing ideas that help me think.
The easiest way to grasp the difference is to remember what happened when your parents told you that you had to do something. How many of you did the opposite, just, well, because?
Your prospects and customers want to be in control of their buying process. They want takeaways they can ingest that build their knowledge, increase their confidence and help them make the best decisions. In order to take action, they need to take ownership of the choice.
And that's often due to their ability to lower or eliminate their concept of the level of risk related to the choice. You can tell them all you want that your company is an expert. You can tell them not to worry because you're the best. You can tell them that research shows X, so they should do Y, but unless the content presents that finding as a takeaway, it's only just a statement.
I see articles and research reports all the time that display statistics like, "96% of an average organization’s Marketing Qualified Leads fail to make it closure."
My takeaways could be:
- We're much better. Only 75% of our MQLs are lost. (proof we're better than average)
- Sales isn't doing their job. (pass the buck - not my problem)
- Marketing needs a better definition of an MQL. (What should I do?)
B2B marketers need to plan for the takeaway. In the article used above, their takeaway is a big one. The idea that companies need marketing automation. (I agree, btw) But, there are also a number of smaller ones such as sales needs to participate in nurturing programs and applying resources across the entire opportunity lifecycle.
[This article could actually provide fodder for 3 or 4 nurturing articles with planned takeaways that build the case for marketing automation in step with prospects' thought processes.]
This is a good, informative article, and I love Sirius Decisions research. My point is that for prospect nurturing content, you will do better if you focus on emphasizing one takeaway. Seed one idea that the prospect can build on.
Then present the next nurturing takeaway to build from that foundation. This doesn't mean you can't mention anything else, but it does help you to develop content with a specific intent. By helping your prospects and customers create ideas they can make their own, they'll return to your content to help grow their ideas into business cases.
The beauty of the takeaway approach is that as you enable the prospect to build these ideas they relate their confidence and knowledge to your company. It becomes a natural conclusion for them to consider your company credible, trustworthy and a great choice as a partner to help them when the time comes to buy.