As if marketers aren’t juggling enough balls in the air, they now need to wrap their heads around the concept of converging their various content efforts. According to a recent report published by the Altimeter Group, marketers “must converge their media efforts by combining social, corporate content, and advertising reach.” Otherwise they risk missing the opportunity to connect with today’s buyers.
B2B Buyers are Also Consumers
That’s because today’s buyers are also living and working in a converged world. According to Caroline Morris from the marketing research organization Sky IQ, "2012 is all about convergence. Consumers are multi-tasking, technology-savvy, interactive individuals these days. They don't differentiate terms such as channels or devices like marketers do, they are just engaging."
What B2B marketers need to remember first and foremost is that prospective buyers are people and consumers. So the trends that impact all of us in our daily lives are also affecting prospects in the same ways. The world moves faster in general. We have access to information at our fingertips through a range of digital devices. We can more easily tap into our friends’ and peers’ opinions and experiences. We’re often multitasking. We’re spoiled by our experiences with leading brands like Amazon and Zappos. And we don’t distinguish between the experiences we have as B2C versus B2B buyers. The bar has been raised high by consumer companies and B2B marketers need to satisfy these same expectations.
The Altimeter Group report goes on to highlight some of the key challenges that marketers face in connecting with buyers on their terms: departmental silos, the disconnect between various marketing subgroups, and use of disparate tools.
Hear How B2B Buyers Use Content and Social Forums
TechTarget has also explored this issue in great depth, defining convergence as how marketers are combining or integrating demand gen, branding, and social to reach and connect with prospects and customers. In fact, convergence was the theme of its recent Online ROI Summit and was covered in its latest Media Consumption Report.
To bring some real-world perspective to the issue of convergence, TechTarget hosted a panel of IT buyers at its Online ROI Summit:
o Global Head of IT Strategy for Novartis
o Direction of Info Security for American Tower
o Senior Web Services Administrator for Thomson Reuters
To see how these buyers responded to the research findings and the notion of convergence – and how marketers can in turn respond to these buyers – check out this 25-minute video capturing a discussion between me and Marilou Barsam, SVP of Client and Corporate Marketing at TechTarget. [Note: registration is required]. You’ll gain insight into:
o Why buyers are pressed to move faster when making buying decisions
o How media preferences are shifting
o How buyers use social communities, forums, and networks, and their receptivity to vendor participation
o How marketers can grab buyers’ attention and accelerate outreach with content and in social communities
How to Better Engage Busy Buyers
A converged approach requires careful planning and collaboration internally to bridge the gap between branding, demand generation, and social media groups within organizations.
Those that are skeptical about a converged approach should consider the rising popularity of knowledge hubs, microsites and content curation. Busy buyers appreciate visiting a single information source but want to see varied viewpoints and information types, and want to access the information that makes sense for them at that given point in time. As one of the TechTarget panelists said, buyers want to maintain control, with options at their fingertips.
Marketers tend to get wrapped up in their inside-out perspectives, such as thinking about what type of collateral to produce or campaigns to run. Buyers are seeking information, and as long as it’s the right information at the right time, they largely don’t care how it’s delivered or in what format.
What's your experience with converged media?
About the author: Stephanie Tilton is a content marketing consultant who helps B2B companies craft content that nurtures leads and advances the buying cycle. You can follow her on Twitter or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B.