When I started in the industry almost 20 years ago, buying cycles were generally pretty simple. The electronics component vendor I worked for (like any other B2B manufacturer or service provider) placed print editorial and advertising in trade magazines to inform prospective customers about the new products it offered. Interested readers would then send enquiry forms back to the magazine publishers, who would subsequently pass them on to us in the company’s sales department. We would take all these enquiries, stuff envelopes full of datasheets, brochures and other relevant collateral, then follow up with a call about a week or so later. We would try to discuss the enquirers’ needs and look at how we could meet these, before preparing a quote and finally attempting to close the deal. This was a fairly longwinded and laborious process, but the good thing was that the company had a degree of control over it all.

Modern buying cycles are very different from those of the past. Today, when someone wants to source a particular product or service, they expect far greater immediacy. They certainly won’t wait for enquiry forms to be processed and information to be sent out to them. Increasingly they won’t even pick up the phone to talk to a vendor’s sales staff.

Access to much greater quantities of information (via the Internet) has allowed prospective buyers to take control away from vendors. As they can learn a lot more about what is likely to be a good fit for their requirements by carrying out their own research, they can progress much further along the buying cycle before having to even consider getting in touch with a vendor’s sales staff. As a consequence, vendors may end up being eliminated from the buying cycle before they’ve had a chance to speak to the potential customer – simply because they failed to make information accessible enough (either because it is too difficult to understand, there is not enough detail, or it has not been put in places where it will be seen). A company could in theory have the best sales team in the business, but if the content needed to bring new customers to them is not good enough (or is not readily available) their talents will simply be wasted.

There are a vast array of different digital platforms and social media channels out there, so navigating through this increasingly complex landscape can prove difficult. To maximise the impact that the content placed on each of these will have on your company’s lead generation activities, the following should be considered:

  • Where should you place content in order to reach the target audience?
  • What sort of content is needed to suit the specific characteristics of each relevant digital platform/social media channel you will be addressing?
  • How frequently should new content be added to get the best results?
  • What steps need to be taken to convert the engagement resulting from this content into qualified sales leads (for example calls to action and landing pages)?

To download Pinnacle Marketing’s white paper on the role that content has to play in ensuring more effective lead generation, please click here.