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I preach putting real content, product info on a website but could use a new perspective on just "what" to put on a site and how. It is awfully hard to pull this information from clients. Any suggestions? Thanks
...especially for the B2B market
I haven't got an online article for you, but here are some insights from the Boston SES conference this spring, at the B2B session. By the way, I just gobbled up this session, because over three quarters of my clients are B2B.
Here's one very important discrimination to make on a B2B website -- is the site aimed at the Person With a Problem (PWP), or is it aimed at the person who can authorize a purchase, the Checkbook Holder (CBH)?
This is a critical discrimination that strongly affects your content and your targeting altogether. Except for rather small enterprises, the CBH is not usually the one searching the web for an answer.
It's the PWP who is looking for a product or service that provides a solution -- hopefully yours. They will often search with long phrases to pinpoint their results most exactly. A few informal studies have shown an average of a 5 to 6 word search phrase in this kind of situation.
If a PWP finds your content, they are most likely putting together a "short list" of possible solution providers - and your goal is to be on that list, not to get an immediate sale. The sales cycle in B2B is often weeks, months or even several quarters long. There will often be funding cycles to go through, chains of approval that require sign-off etc.
If your content convinces a PWP, in their own professional vocabulary, that you've got the goods, then they also need something else from you -- the ammunition to take to their CBH. This may include White Papers, market studies, testimonials, etc, but one thing is certain. This ammunition content needs to be expressed in the vocabulary of ROI, financial information, stuff that a CFO would love. In many cases, the finance person doesn't even understand all the technical details that drew the PWP to your site.
And speaking of vocabulary, most B2B markets have a set of highly specialized buzz-words and these will change with the trendy winds of market hype. While you certainly want a B2B website to appear knowledgable and at the cutting edge, most searches will not be done with the latest and greatest buzz-words. It's good to ensure that your content contains the buzz-words that originated one or even two cycles back.
In general, B2B marketing does not need the same kind of over-the-top hyoe that many B2C sites employ. It's just a time waster and seen as hype-only in most cases. The PWP has a problem. They want to know if you've got the solution. If so, you'll end up on the short list.
This is a general recipe. Season liberally with the particulars of each business sector.
We've had a few short discussions on this in the past, but nothing too recent - one that I have bookmarked is [webmasterworld.com...] This thread seeded a few ideas for me.
If your content convinces a PWP, in their own professional vocabulary, that you've got the goods, then they also need something else from you -- the ammunition to take to their CBH. This may include White Papers, market studies, testimonials, etc, but one thing is certain. This ammunition content needs to be expressed in the vocabulary of ROI, financial information, stuff that a CFO would love.
Oh, tedster, where were you two weeks ago when I needed you? ;) I'm working on this kind of ammo right now but it's still a struggle. I'm not the target, so I'm having a frightful time figuring out the appropriate voice, tone, content, buzzwords ... and there aren't any good examples out there from my industry to give me ideas.
Lately I've been starting to wonder who exactly I should be targeting the content I write at. When I think about the email leads that my company's site generates, they are almost ALL from PWPs, but much of what I have been writing is targeted at CBHs - I've been thinking of overcoming obstacles to the sale much as a telesales person would need to do.
You've given me a whole new perspective on the content for this particular site in a matter of a few sentences. I'm now planning to put this into practice on a section of the site I've been meaning to revamp for a while and see how it goes.
>>there aren't any good examples out there from my industry to give me ideas
Hawkgirl, I don't know if this will be any use to you, but I'm off to see if I can find some discussion forums, mailing lists etc. for my target PWPs, see what their problems are and hopefully build some pages around answers to those problems. Perhaps this will bear more fruit than looking at the competion and seeing how they're targeting their content.
Hopefully this will give me some good ideas for keywords areas to target too. I'm starting to think I've been much too simplistic about this aswell (mainly using product codes). The funny thing is, my best page for google referrals for months has been a news story I wrote without giving it much thought. Actually it fits Tedsters point about PWPs perfectly. Unfortunately the target for this term isn't all that relevant and the page hit the wrong demographic, but I've had this in front of my eyes for ages and never joined the dots. Thanks for getting your pen out and joining them for me Tedster.
They will often search with long phrases to pinpoint their results most exactly. A few informal studies have shown an average of a 5 to 6 word search phrase in this kind of situation.
Didn't know that tedster. Thanks.
PWP / CBH is a great concept. One guy that I really respected introduced me to that concept for the IT sales cycle world, but with it broken down into 4 categories.
User: Tedster's PWP
FD/CFO: Tedster's CBH
Technical Department: His concerns might include: Can this be maintained easily? Will it work on present platforms? Who's budget is it coming out of? Is it scalable? Do I have trained inhouse staff who are enthusiastic about this? Can this easily migrate to where we want to be in 2 years? Is this a good, cheap prototype for what we have to do? And perhaps most important: Does this decrease my workload while getting some annoying users off my back for a while?
Senior Non-Financial Management: (e.g. CEO, department head etc.) Her Concerns may include: Does this fit the short-term strategy? Can I see the FD's argument that it saves money? Does it make me feel like my company is accomplishing things? Can I present it to the board of directors? Is it trendy in the magazines and with my peer group?
This is normally best presented (to a 3rd party audience) as a diagram.
In between each of these nodes can be buffers such as secretaries, other levels of management. Communications between them are limited by language, time, communication systems etc..
Tedster's breakdown was slightly different but his main point still rings true -- the user is generally your in-house champion so make sure she can download this information quickly and knows how to use it effectively. Whoever provides them the best armourment, has a better chance of being the product of choice.
Interestingly, although it is normally the PWP/User that is in-house champion, sometimes the other groups are the champions and have to enlist the User. I don't know what the studies say about this, but my experience is that the financial, management & technical groups are more driven by word of mouth than the problem-driven user.
(Quick write-up so excuse the waffling ;-)