Posted tagged ‘knowledge’

B-to-B Content: Provide, don’t pitch

February 13, 2008

Looks like some B-to-B marketers may have lost touch with their customers regarding what kind of content works best for lead generation.

A survey of marketers and content users distributed by MarketingSherpa shows that many marketers picked case studies as the most attractive content.

But nearly as many content users also cited  as most interesting industry research, how-to guides and top-10 lists for improving their business.

“Some B-to-B marketers focused on generating leads don’t fully realize the impact of content when it comes to engaging their audience and reinforcing their marketing message,” says Matt Lohman, Director, Business Development, KnowledgeStorm Inc., which conducted the study.

“The quality of the leads has everything to do with how the message, positioning and format of the content resonates with their target audience, in addition to when and where marketers engage them.”

Obviously, the most attractive content provides lessons and information that can be used. Case studies present a useful problem-solution format to customers, and are extremely attractive if presented in story form. People like a good story that they can learn from — it’s been a dominant format since Aesop began educating people through his fables.

But the operative word for case studies and all other content is form. While everyone loves a story, most people don’t like sales pitches. And too many case studies are simply bad sales pitches hidden in data or technical jargon. Mostly, they extol the features of some particular product or service but impart few lessons that receivers can apply to their own situations.

So, let’s say it one more time: Content should not be data or simple information. It should provide knowledge that can be used in learning.

Maybe that’s why end-users (a technical term, by the way, as if content was just another piece of software) are out of sinc with the marketers.

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Been There, Done That Marketing

November 12, 2007

A fascinating article in Wired regarding the discovery that an ancient coded book that has confounded scientists for years is actually a hoax highlights a problem in academia that could also probably be applied to any discipline, including marketing and communicating.

A UK researcher called Gordon Rugg identified something called the “expertise gap” common among experts in any field — an expert being identified as someone with 10 years experience — that causes them to shortcut their thinking. As these people become more experienced in a field of knowledge, they become farther and farther removed from core problems, and more and more focused on their own particular methodology to arrive at a solution.

But psychological and neuroscience studies suggest that these experts aren’t any smarter than anyone else. Instead, they have lots of experience, which they employ in an analysis shortcut called “pattern-matching”.

When they see a problem or situation that requires a solution, they call upon the patterns with which they’re familiar, and noticing similarities, form a conclusion. For example, if a doctor notices you have most of the symptoms of mumps, he or she will likely conclude you have the mumps.

Pattern matching is much more efficient than rigorous testing and wide, cross-discipline thinking. Most of the time it’s right. Problem is that’s most of the time, but not all the time. So pattern matching methodology can also often lead to false conclusions.

How does this apply to marketers and communicators? Well, since marketing is an essential management function, many organizations today look for marketers who are expert in a particular field (just like they look for a specialist in financing, IT, and other areas). The reasoning is that this been there, done that kind of marketer won’t be fazed by the new kinds of marketing problems that are showing up with increasing rapidity today.

But perhaps these organizations should also determine whether these marketers are also too reliant on pattern matching. Is there too narrow a focus, or does this marketer explore other areas of expertise to acquire cross-discipline knowledge?

And if you’re a marketer or communicator, are you continually adding to your knowledge base in other, unrelated, areas? We’re not talking about looking at other areas of marketing — a B2B marketer studying consumer marketing techniques, or entertainment marketing, for example — but true other disciplines. Scientific methodology. Or Art. Or even sports and finance, both of which rely heavily on statistical analysis.

It’s all part of rounding out the expertise base. It’s also using both your left and your right brain so as to beef up both your intuitive type of thinking (often favoured by marketers and communicators) and your logical, scientific-style of thinking.

We used to call these people renaissance people — they have wide ranging minds that are interested in many things. Today, unfortunately, the renaissance person is too often dismissed as an unfocused dabbler while the narrow-focused expert is revered.

But if you’re simply a been there, done that marketer, your lack of bandwidth might be shortchanging your clients, your organization — and yourself.