By Paul Trotter - 26th July 2019
I recently watched a Jeff Bezos interview from 20 years ago and one of the things that struck me was the interviewer struggling with the concept of Amazon as a customer service business. During the dotcom bubble the likes of Amazon were regarded as “internet businesses”. Many of us thought “the internet” was the product, when what Amazon was actually providing was both much bigger than that, and not too far removed from the thing successful commercial organisations had been striving for for centuries – customer excellence.
Today, of course, everyone talks about putting the customer first. Let’s use the example of another company that’s often credited with placing us front and centre. In the “content” world, Netflix uses big data and AI to help ensure the films, programmes, boxsets and documentaries recommended to us take our personal preferences into account. Recommendations are based on our previous viewing behaviour, and the consumption habits of “people like us”.
That’s more about content promotion, but Netflix also uses data to inform content production, to an extent. One example comes from the success of House of Cards. By analysing data based on millions of views, searches and ratings, Netflix knew customers really liked Kevin Spacey, they really liked the work of director David Fincher, and there was interest in the original British version of House of Cards. Based on that information, Netflix boldly invested $100 million to produce the first two seasons.
So, how far could you go with this, and what has it got to do with B2B marketing?
Well, it depends on how customer obsessed you’re prepared to be. In Netflix’s realm, to really put the individual first, you’d need to write, direct, cast, and produce a piece of content from the ground up based purely on the customer. And even with the eye-watering budgets of today’s movies, it doesn’t make financial sense to be that obsessed. It just can’t be done.
At Transmission, we know that the most effective B2B marketing campaigns are driven by customer obsession. And that approach absolutely needs to flow through content, from planning to production and promotion.
It starts with an extremely in-depth approach to insights. B2B marketers need to look beyond the thinking that, if a persona seems to engage with blogs rather than videos, then let’s produce only blogs. It’s the actual content that counts. The facts, figures, messaging style, design and distribution channels – they should all be developed for the customer – whether that’s an individual, or an audience group.
It can be about understanding the specific personality of individual decision makers you want to reach. What communication style works best with them? Which keywords are proven to resonate with them? How can we create and adapt content so that it speaks directly to the individual? All of these things are now possible with the latest insights available to B2B marketers.
And if you’re producing content for a broader audience, you can still use these principles. Take the example of an Account Based Marketing (ABM) campaign aimed at multiple people in the decision-making units for a large list of target accounts. The first thing your content team will need to think about is the assets that will drive the campaign. And that means obsessing over personas; job titles, publications that influence them, content consumption habits, search engine insights, buyer stages, popular hobbies – what can you find out about this audience group that will help influence the content you create?
There are so many data and insights sources available to us now that it’s possible, even critical, to obsess over the small details before you even start to plan your B2B content strategy. It’s a world away from the “gut feel” approach many marketers used in years gone by.
It means you’re not spending your content budget on what you think your customers and prospects want, but on what you know they need. Whether your “customer” is a single person, a tightly defined group, or even a broad audience, it pays to be obsessed about them.
Interested in Customer Obsessed B2B Marketing? Check out our new three part series and all our supporting content here!