In an earlier post on the Goose Digital blog, I talked about the similarities between manufacturing automation and marketing automation. So now I’d like to point out another one: you have to feed the machine.

In a factory, the automation requires the design plan (marketing strategy) but it also needs the component parts. Without that, there’s nothing to build with and assemble. In marketing automation, the component parts consist of the audience lists and the content you’ll present to them. Or in other words, who you are talking to and what you say.

This area is something marketing automation can power, but cannot create. It’s up to us as strategists and creative thinkers to supply these component parts.

One of the key features of automation platforms is the ability to build, manage and nurture prospects into qualified leads. Whether you start out with a robust and healthy list, or need to build one from scratch, the machine neither knows nor cares. BUT the quality of your content will have an enormous impact on the quality of your lists.

Good content attracts new leads, and keeps the ones you already have in your pipeline engaged. Bad or irrelevant content turns prospects off.

Content quality

This is one of the biggest hurdles in modern marketing. I don’t know if folks live in denial, or if they feel so daunted by the task of content creation that they go into avoidance mode. But I’m going to say it, even if you don’t want to hear it…

People HATE being sold to.

Unless you’re a retailer, you really want to avoid blasting your audience with hard-sell messaging. Do it too much and your audience is quite likely to shut you off. They may unsubscribe, or they may simply delete your emails without reading them. Both actions can have an adverse effect on your sender reputation, and you might find yourself labeled a spammer, and blocked from sending further communications – even to the people who do want to hear from you.

Nope. Today’s B2B buyer wants valuable content they can use. They want to make informed decisions. And since a lot of B2B buying decisions have a direct impact on the buyer’s career prospects, you can’t really blame them, can you?

So, what makes content valuable?

B2B buyers need information and education. They want to know how your product or service can solve their problems or give them a competitive advantage in their marketplace.

Unless your offering is in a highly commoditized segment, price usually falls under the due diligence phase towards the end of the buying cycle, not at the start. Same goes for your company history. Yes, this helps indicate that you’re not a fly-by-night organization, but it’s not really important to anyone but you. Think about what you’d type into a web search when trying to solve a problem. I’m willing to bet it’s not “software company in business since 1995” or “lowest cost consultant”.

Instead of coming out of the gate talking about price or your company vision and mission, start the conversation by showing interest in your prospects’ pain points. What matters to them should matter to you. If widgets are your line of business, talk about how the right widget can do things like increase productivity. If you sell financial software, you may want to talk about ways to reduce risk or increase transparency.

Whatever problem your product solves, that’s your talk track. The goal is to attract prospects at the beginning of the buying cycle, get them interested and then nurture them through research, consideration and due diligence.

Never assume that everyone who hits your website or subscribes to your emails is ready to buy right now. You’re reading this blog, but you may not be ready to hire Goose Digital, right? (if you are, let’s talk!) Same goes for your audience. They may be consuming your content, but aren’t ready to pull the lever on a deal at this precise moment in time.

How do I create better content?

This subject deserves an entire post to itself. Stay tuned for part 2, where I share some best practices to help make content creation a little less intimidating.