Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Do You Need A Ping-Pong Marketing Plan?

Most marketers don't think about the interplay or ping-ponginess of the B2B buying process. Too many still have campaign mentalities.  We still care mostly about what we want  buyers to do...whether we're accommodating what they want, or not.  We still sit down to plan a campaign and focus on the deliverables. "Okay -- let's publish a couple of blog posts to drive registrants to a webinar, then we'll follow that with a white paper and a sales pitch. How many leads do you think we can generate for sales if we execute this program in Q2?"
Why don't we think about it like Ping-Pong?  There's a rhythm to Ping-Pong, a back-and-forth. Playing Ping-Pong is like having a conversation. And that is what your content should be designed to do. It doesn't mean that the campaign above won't work if rethought, but the problem is that it stops in its tracks when planned this way. It's a snippet of the conversation that will need to be held over a complex B2B buying process. As it stands, there's no connection to anything that comes before or after.
It's like having a conversation and suddenly, in mid-sentence, the other person gest a text, glances at his smartphone and steps away to deal with it, never returning and leaving you to wonder if you're really that boring. That's exactly how a campaign can treat prospective buyers.
Stick with me to think about it:
Buyer: I wonder what my peers are doing to solve problem X?
Marketer: This blog post talks about six different ways people are dealing with problem X.
Buyer: That was great information. Oh, look, they're having a webinar with more examples.  Think
            I'll sign up.
Marketer: Thanks for attending our webinar.  Here's a link to replay.
Buyer: I was there. I don't need to see it again. What else have you got?
Marketer: Silence.
Buyer: Hmm. Those examples got me thinking, but I wonder if there are any industry best practices
            emerging about problem X?
Marketer: Silence.
Buyer: Where'd they go?
Salesperson: Since you attended our webinar, we thought you might need a demo of our solution. Got
                     30 minutes?
Buyer: What? I'm not sure this will work in our situation.  I need to talk to David and Harvey and
Salesperson: I just sent you an email about a demo, thought I'd leave a voicemail too.  Want a demo?
Buyer: I wonder who the experts are who can help me learn more about dealing with problem X?
            Maybe I'll try a search on Twitter for X...
Marketer: Silence.
You may be shaking your head about these exchanges, but this is what so many B2B marketing campaigns look like. The problem with a "campaign mindset" is that marketers are missing the Ping to go with the Pong. And your buyer prospects are very aware of the lapse.
But not to worry.  They won't be waiting on you to fix that issue. They've already moved on to someone else who is more helpful and concerned about what they want and need over the long term. Someone who's dedicated to playing the game all the way through.
It's one thing to map content to the buying process. It's quite another to plan for the Ping-Pong scenarios that will keep the ball in the air. 
What new considerations are you adding to your content strategy to account for the back-and-forth of extended conversation that won't abruptly leave your prospects hanging?

Source: Ardath Albee, CEO, Marketing Interactions

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To share common sense lessons learned with 40-plus years experience in marketing, sales and as a B2B publisher.