You feel a ripple of nausea as your stomach falls. You just heard from the sales team that your company lost a hot prospect that you really wanted to add to your client list.
You'd followed the tracking notifications as the prospect read your articles, downloaded your premium content, read additional articles, and checked out the case studies and bottom-of-the-funnel content that the sales team had sent.
Your hopes were sky-high when your company's best salesperson was assigned to this prospect, and you just knew she would close the deal.
But, no... And the worst part is, you lost the prospect to a competitor you've been enviously watching win again and again.
Your competitor offered new insight
Content is like a new baby: To the people who made it, it's perfect—even though there are hundreds of thousands of other babies out there that are arguably just as "perfect."
To capture attention and get a response, your content needs to offer new perspective, new insight. If the prospect has spent any time at all trying to find ways to solve a problem or to achieve a goal, he or she has hit up Google; and if your content just re-hashes what's on the first couple of pages of search results, you aren't going to garner much respect.
Decision-makers want to learn something fresh and valuable that has an impact on their business. And you want to be seen as the company with something to offer that your competitors don't.
Action step: Get a clear picture of exactly who your prospects are and what challenges they are trying to solve. Understand their current level of knowledge about the issues you address at each stage of the buyer's journey. And before you create a piece of content, search Google to see what already exists. Then ask yourself a few questions: What's not being said about this issue? What new angle can I view this topic from? If everyone is talking about a new piece of research, how can I reframe the research, or cross-reference it with another study to come up with new insight? What thoughts do our company experts have on this subject? Put in the effort to come up with something fresh.
Your competitor delivered personal value
We often forget that B2B marketing is still person-to-person. Each of your decision-makers has daily challenges, fears, and goals. Each wants to be more productive, to do good work, to get that raise, to improve his or her career.
Research by CEB found that "personal value is twice as powerful as business value in achieving a broad range of commercial objectives (including awareness, consideration, purchase intent, willingness to pay a premium, loyalty, willingness to recommend)."
The business value has to be there: You absolutely have to meet the business need, or you won't even make it to the consideration set. But let's face it: Unless you're in a very niche industry or offer something truly revolutionary, most providers (your competitors) also meet the business need.
Personal value is where B2B buyers look when trying to decide between several good options. Buyers want to know...
- Which provider will be the easiest to work with?
- Which service will save me the most time?
- Which product is the least risky?
- Which decision will get the nod of my boss?
Action step: Create a list of all decision-makers involved in the buying process. What personal value is each of these people looking for? You'll probably need to do some research to uncover the answer. Once you know, start talking about the personal value you offer alongside the business value you provide. Customize your content to speak specifically to each decision-maker persona.
Your competitor led the prospect back to its UVP
Marketers are frequently left scratching their heads when a prospect devours their excellent content and then promptly calls up a competitor. The reason? Even if in your content you've nailed providing new insight and personal value, you haven't convinced prospects that they need to buy from your company.
That problem is solved by leading prospects to your unique value proposition (UVP)—what you can offer that your competitors can't.
Content that results in purchasing behavior disrupts the prospects' current pattern of thinking ("I need such-and-such, which many suppliers can provide me with; I just need to decide which supplier has the best product/service at the best price.") with a new mental model ("I need this exact solution, and this company is the only one that delivers it.").
Content that reframes the purchasing criteria converts prospects to customers.
Action step: Identify what your decision-makers care about most. Uncover what their current beliefs are about how to solve those problems or achieve those goals. Look for what the decision-makers are missing that's essential for big success (which your company is exceptional at providing). If your content's new insight leads decision-makers to realize your company alone can fully solve their need, they're much more likely to take action and contact you, rather than a competitor.
Marketing leads the way
When you lose a prospect, you may be tempted to blame Sales (that age-old conflict). It does take both Marketing and Sales to bring in new business, but the reality is that Marketing can lead the way. You can craft the strategy and produce the content that attracts prospects, guides them all the way through the buying journey, and leads them directly to the conclusion that your company is the only one it makes sense to do business with.