When a B2B buyer sets out to solve a problem or achieve a business objective, he or she begins with an initial vision of what that might look like. They will talk to colleagues, search for information about potential solutions and ask their peers for ideas and recommendations.
I was working on a client project recently and spent several days immersing myself into their industry and competitive environment. After a while all the messaging started to run together. No one – and I mean not one – of the players in the space had a unique message or approach. All of them were saying the same things, using the same buzzwords. Even worse, it was all high-level stuff or feeds and speeds info that didn’t help me think critically about the solution to the problem their products were designed to solve.
As a newcomer to the environment, I felt much like a potential buyer might feel. The experience was confusing and frustrating. Now, this is great for me because my job is to help my client carve out new space for the expression of meaning in the marketplace. And, since the current messaging didn’t offer much, we had a lot of opportunity to rise above the noise.
But as I kept thinking about the buyer’s experience I realized a few things. Putting myself into their shoes, I realized what was lacking was perspective. I had no idea what any of the companies in the space really thought. The problem they solve is complex, but there was no hierarchy of thinking available to help me decide which vendor I could work with best.
There was no way to discern culture, which is critical to a long-term, aligned partnership. There was no clearly claimed expertise exposed to whet my appetite. Sure, most of them offer analyst reports as gated downloads, but that’s not representative of their perspective, so it doesn’t help me learn more about the vendor and their stance in the marketplace or their ideas about what the future may hold.
Perspective is about having a point of view. It expresses an understanding about how the component parts of a situation relate to the big picture – how everything will come together.
I like this definition by Huthwaite in relation to what the company calls Perspective Selling:
“Perspective is having the audacity to bring what you know to the table that will help the customer see beyond his initial solution image and introduce points of view not considered before.”
Content that offers perspective will be seen as more relevant provided it is based on what the intended audience really cares about. It will arouse curiosity and deliver engagement and promote inquiry. Inquiry leads to conversation.
Content that offers perspective is not “how to” or tactical content. It is strategic thinking that helps your buyers derive meaning from their exploration into how to solve a problem or achieve a goal. It helps them understand what their long-term vision looks like in relation to their objectives.
Content that offers perspective, provides it differently based on where the buyer is in their quest to solve the problem. It’s an expression of ideas that not only answers questions the buyer has in that moment, but provides conversational prompts that the buyer can raise in consensus discussions.
Content that offers perspective is the type of content that gets buyers to think differently, to expand their original vision and to align the value your solution will help them gain with what they’re looking for.
A few things to think about in relation to content that offers perspective:
- It’s the kind of B2B content that’s based on big ideas that build the buyer’s long-term vision
- Tap your SMEs for insights that can be used to offer perspective your company can back up
- Perspective should be tied to your company’s distinct value (My book, Digital Relevance explores this concept)
- The perspective that engages one buyer may need to be spun from a different direction to get other stakeholders on board – this is why personas exist, to clarify what works for whom
In the race to produce more B2B content, marketers must look beyond what’s easy to produce and go after the bigger concepts that provide meaningful insights that buyers can sink their teeth into. This is what will motivate buyers to take action to learn more. And when they do so, it’s what gets your ideas in the room from the start—way before buyers will choose to engage face-to-face with your company. Less can definitely be more when done well.
So, if you look at the competitive landscape your company plays in, where are the gaps that provide the perfect opportunity for the development of B2B content that offers perspective? They’re definitely out there…