Today has been one of those days with too much information (TMI) from the start. I've finally cleared my email inbox, replying to all the stuff that can't wait. I've followed my new Twitter followers. I've sifted through my Google Alerts and read the things that caught my attention (most of them disappointing). I've participated in several client conference calls, answered a few messages on my Facebook page and scanned my TweetDeck columns to make sure I haven't missed anything. And, I gained a new client I'm really excited to work with!
Just keeping up with all the information and communications kept me busy for half of my day. And, you know what? I deleted or ignored everything that wasn't critical - and that was a lot of stuff. Considering that this scenario is similar to what many people go through, rising above the noise is more challenging than ever when you're a B2B marketer creating, publishing, sharing and promoting your content—both online and off.
This picture pretty much sums up the challenge.
Go on, admit it. You feel the same way as this guy. I know I do.
What this means for B2B marketers is that good enough just won't cut it. Too much information is the norm for most of us these days. I often wonder why we think our prospects are different from us? Why do we think they all have ample time to read and respond to whatever we publish?
Why should they? In fact, if you put yourself in your target audience's shoes and evaluated your content, calls to action, and takeaways, would you respond if you were them?
In the age of too much information (TMI) your content must:
Get the Why I Should Care right up front. Otherwise you're already done.
Make the What I Learn something that I can use - either to promote my thinking about an important issue I'm involved with or something I can put into practice to help me right now.
Tell me just How to do what you want me to - and it had better be easy and intuitive.
Show me Where the impact you promise will happen - in terms that I can easily understand—even when I'm multi-tasking.
Make When I choose to respond work on my terms, while igniting urgency on my part. Note that this will only happen if it's a natural outcome to your content, message or communication without feeling pushy.
Too much information is becoming a natural state for all of us—marketers and prospects included. Too many choices, too much nonsense, too many ridiculous assumptions and too much about the messenger will kill the last shreds of interest we might have had left to allocate to your stuff.
I think it's time for the Golden Rule to make a comeback. If we started "doing unto others as we would do unto ourselves" - honestly doing that - we'd likely see our content marketing programs gaining traction with the audiences we're intent on engaging.
Here are two examples that fell through on their promise:
1) A white paper that promised to discuss lead progression and told me twice that it was a $500 value being offerred for free. (That should have been a clue, I know). It was 4 pages of regurgitated analyst research without a single new idea and very little on lead progression.
Note to self: Never believe this company's content promise again. Perhaps even question the next time the person who recommended this recommends something else on Twitter.
2) An email from an unknown Internet marketer telling me they know I'm on Twitter and want me to follow them on Twitter. The subject line: [FIRST NAME] Let's connect on Twitter was the first clue that the delete button was my friend. But, the indication that they'd done the work to find me and chose not to follow me, but request I follow them meant they were someone with no idea what Internet marketing is all about.
Here are two examples of content that delivered for me:
1) An email from a person I "know" sharing their latest manifesto with me, not even asking for a review, but I found it so valuable that I blogged about it and my post was picked up by BtoB Magazine as their blog post of the week. The New B2B Marketing Manifesto has great ideas that made me stop and think about the field I make my living working in.
2) An email from Eccolo Media with their latest Tech Buyer Collateral Survey because most of my clients are IT companies and the information is always valuable to me. Plus, they know I reviewed the last one.
What works for you, may be different. But take a look at what does and figure out why. Then step into your prospects' shoes and figure out what works for them. Do that.