What if I told you 91% of buyers don’t trust your sales people?

That’s basically what the CMO council found in a recent study where only 9% of B2B buyers said they trust content from vendors. And content, as we all know, is the new sales team when it comes to engaging buyers early in the decision process.

What’s turning buyers off?

Buyers told CMO that content on vendor websites is – I’m paraphrasing here – self-serving, boring, basically useless and way too hard to access. Ouch. This is happening even though B2B marketers are spending more and more of their budgets on content. Clearly, throwing more money at the issue isn’t working.

6 ways to make your content more valuable.

Take a look at your website. When CMO asked buyers what characteristics they valued most in B2B content, their top three responses were: “breadth and depth of information, ease of access and readability, and originality of ideas”.

How are you handling these requirements? I have a few suggestions for you.

  • Slow down and put more thought into your content. I know you’re concerned about creating enough content. But when you’re in a frenzy to get a bunch of stuff published, it’s easy to lose sight of what is good – and that is bad. Content doesn’t help anybody if your buyers don’t like it.
  • Pay more attention to writing and design. Just like you, buyers are busy people. They don’t have time, or frankly the interest, to figure out what you are trying to say. A good writer will use words to grab the readers’ attention and hold it while communicating a message. A good designer will make those words enticing and easy to read, and add images to help get the point across.
  • Put your product or technology last. Software, SaaS and IT buyers are using content to help them understand the business problems they’re facing, find out what options are available for solving the problems and, in the end, pick the best solution for their situation. Give potential buyers more business-issue-related content and help them make the right decision. That may be your product and it may not.
  • Reconsider what content you gate. The practice of putting forms in front of content to collect contact details in exchange for valuable information is a best practice in B2B marketing, and buyers generally understand that concept. But they don’t like it; so think twice about what you’re trying to accomplish when you hide something behind a form.
  • Case studies, case studies, case studies. There is no better way to showcase your product while providing valuable stories about how others are solving similar problems. Buyers love case studies. Produce lots of them, and don’t use a form.
  • Publish a blog. Remember what buyers told CMO they valued most in B2B content – breadth and depth of information, ease of access and readability, and originality of ideas. Well you can easily give your buyers exactly that with a well-written blog updated on a regular basis.

Content is a great competitive advantage

In the same CMO study, 87% of buyers said that online content played a valuable role in vendor selection. They’re using content – just not vendors’ content. Instead, they’re looking at association research, reports from industry groups and analysts.

Interestingly, this is pretty much the same thing buyers said in a similar study 5 years ago. Why we haven’t come any closer to giving buyers what they want is puzzling to me, but it provides you a great opportunity to jump ahead of your competitors.

Take the ideas I’ve suggested here, create some good content, start discussions around them on LinkedIn and other networks, and you’ll find that buyers are open to learning more about you.

If you want to learn more about how to develop content that IT buyers want, listen in on my phone interview with Mike Weir, LinkedIn’s Global Head of Technology Market Development. He’ll share a number of moves you can make to ensure your IT buyers bother to read your content. Click here to access the recording.