The noise online is deafening. But there is also a lot of really great content available on nearly every subject imaginable - from addressing simple ideas to the highly complex. There's a lot of research that shows the first stop for B2B buyers with the need to solve a problem is search. With nearly unlimited search results for any query, your buyer is learning a lot as they browse around looking for ideas, education and opportunities to turn that problem into an opportunity for their company - and their career.
So, do you know what they know?
Most marketers do (or have someone) do keyword research to use to engage their target audiences.
I worked on a project recently where an "SEO specialist" provided a list of keywords for the marketing team to use. I went out and Googled them. Some of them produced results totally unrelated to what the buyers would be interested in, but they had good volume (so what?). Some produced results with competitor content and some of that content was pretty darned good. Some of it was totally off the mark.
The point being that I don't see a lot of marketers actually looking at what the keywords they're using produce for a search. It's strangely a bit like blind acceptance if the words make sense to them. But what's at the end is critical.
So what if you stepped into your buyer's shoes and went online to search for a solution to a problem your buyer might be experiencing by using your keywords? What could you easily learn from the content offered up in the search results? If you click on a link and read it, does it prompt you to search on a new term? (what was is?) And so on.
Or would you hit the back button and keep scrolling through the search results looking for a better option? How far do you get before you realize this keyword isn't giving you what you need and move on to the next one? Do you use a keyword from your list or did your brain come up with a new one.
Remember, you're in your buyer's shoes. Be discerning. Treat the exercise seriously. Heed time - they don't have all day. Look for the rabbit holes that start with the example I proposed in the previous paragraph.
Once you've done this several times, review what your buyer would have learned.
If you know your buyer uses a social platform in their buying process, go try searching on some of those - groups in LinkedIn they may belong to or hashtags on Twitter, for example. What can they learn about solving those problems in those environments?
Now go look at your content. Given what your buyer may have engaged with, is your content off the mark? Is it too advanced or too simplistic? Is it possible that any of the rabbit holes you followed could provide new insights for how your content might be positioned to enter the thread? This can be critical if the keyword isn't one that will allow you to quickly reach page 1 in the search results.
We often plan our content from start to finish as if our prospects will only interact with the story we're telling. Heck, I've been guilty of this at times, myself. But marketers need to recognize that this isn't reality for most of our buyers - if any - and start to figure out how we'll engage them based on what they may already have learned.
In the experiment you did, was what you learned on the mark? Or was it off track, given the thorough research I know you've done while building buyer personas?
If it was off track, can you develop content to set them straight? I don't necessarily mean dissing the other content, but gently guiding them to another perspective. Perhaps something along the lines of "Why X may not be the best choice if you need to do Y" And this isn't to be taken lightly. You better be able to show your expertise where your claim lies.
Buyers are smart. They're evolving quickly. We need to think about what that means for our marketing programs and how we'll evolve them to stay in step with what our buyers know - or think they know - as they navigate through all that online noise to find what matters to them.
You want it to be your content, right?