One of my favourite parts of Monty Python’s Life of Brian is when Brian is trying to convince a huge crowd that he’s not the messiah (apparently ‘he’s a very naughty boy’ according to his mum). He shouts to the crowd that they shouldn’t blindly follow him because, “You are all individuals!”
“We’re all individuals!” the crowd chants back.
“You’re all different,” Brian tells them.
“We’re all different,” they all agree.
“I’m not,” says a single lone voice.
So what’s this got to do with B2B content? Good question, glad you asked.
There’s an inherent danger for us folks in marketing that we tend to think that our customers are people just like us.
For the most part, of course, we are right. All B2B buyers are people first and job titles second (or third or fourth). They are emotional, irrational beings who can often do some odd things but are brilliant at post-rationalising it (again, just like us). In fact, the more we can focus our B2B content marketing on our customers’ human sides, the more effective our content will be.
So what’s the problem? Another good question (you’re on fire today).
When it comes to how customers consume content, they are not so similar to us as we’d like to believe.
ExactTarget has an interesting report out called Marketers are from Mars. In it, they look at the differences between how marketers use the web and social media and how customers do it.
Us marketers are, by our very nature, early adopters. We love shiny new ideas and fresh ways to get our messages across. The rest of humankind, however, doesn’t always share our enthusiasm. Take the following from the report:
86% of marketers have liked at least one company or brand page on Facebook yet only 58% of customers have done the same
While 61% of marketers follow at least one company or brand on Twitter, just 12% of customers do
Some 93% of marketers have made a purchase from a company after receiving an email from them, this plummets to 49% for customers
So while we do want to be deeply empathetic with how our customers think and feel about the world, their businesses and, yes, even our products, we should be careful about treating ourselves as a focus-group-of-one and betting our success on the results.
Jason Ball is the founder and managing director at Considered. With a multi-decade career in B2B marketing, he’s worked with world-leading brands such as Adobe, Google, EY and Cisco together with niche specialists in technology, manufacturing and professional services.