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Catering to Natural Consumption Behavior in B2B Marketing Content

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Catering to Natural Consumption Behavior in B2B Marketing Content


How to maximize content marketing cost by understanding, and catering to, the various ways that people read. In other words, break down your readership and place the things that they each care most about where they will naturally find it.

For nearly as long as newspapers and magazines have been entertaining and informing the masses, publishers have known that they need to appeal to essentially three kinds of readers: Skimmers, Readers, and Examiners.

  • Skimmers glance at headlines and captions – they fly right through it
  • Readers dig a little deeper and read subheads, introductions and summaries, captions & pull-quotes, and charts & graphs – they take more time than skimmers
  • Examiners read every word in the body copy – take the most time of all

Publishers appeal to these varying behaviors by breaking up their articles into digestible little bits and pieces so that each type of reader gets a little something from a single publication.

In short, Skimmers get a glimpse of what is happening, Readers know a bit more, and Examiners know everything. Everyone is happy.

Valuable Lessons for Marketers

This same framework can be used when publishing longer B2B marketing documents such as white papers, case studies, business cases, entire websites, and more.

But first, a little background…

As marketers, we first identified three roles in an organization that typically evaluate our services. Here is our target audience: CMO at the top, VP/Director of Marketing in the middle, and Marketing Managers/Art Directors/and others at the bottom (no offense, those are just the labels we use).

Then we profiled what those people care most about (as it applies to the services we offer) and applied relevant keywords to each. For instance, we feel:

  • CMOs care most about building their brand, engaging customers, empowering the sales force, and getting ROI from their investments so they can increase market share (and more) and impress the CEO and the Board.
  • VPs and Directors care most about aligning the right message with the right audience, assuring their teams are productive, delivering great leads to the sales head, and looking good to the CMO.
  • Marketing Managers, Art Directors and others care most about delivering the right thing, delivering it on time, and impressing their VP or Director boss.

Since CMOs have so much on their minds, they likely will simply skim a long document that they’ve come across – in our case, a paper that discusses how to maximize visual assets that we published several months ago. In our white paper they see things that align with their goals in places like headlines and captions. Happy with what they’ve seen, the CMO passes it along to a subordinate for further investigation.

So the VP or Director gets their hands on it and they dig a little deeper and read things that they care about in places like introductory paragraphs, sidebars, pull-quotes, etc. So, in a single document, in addition to the things that the CMO is interested in, the VP or Director also finds things that interest them. It looks interesting but they too are too busy to read every word so they pass the document along to one of their subordinates to confirm that we truly can deliver what we say. And alas, the Marketing Manager examines all the nitty gritty details about working with us. They are convinced that we are a great company to work with and back up the org chart we go. And, naturally, this works the same way had the VP or Director found it first or if the Marketing Manager came across it first.

To illustrate how it works, below is our white paper on how we develop marketing content that incorporates the psychology of sharing and memorability to maximize exposure. To show how our three audience-level publishing structure works, we’ve shrunk down the first couple of pages to make room to annotate it.

Each person gets exactly what we want him or her to know about us because the things that interest them are in places where they are most likely to find them. One document for many people, each getting just what they want, and they’re all headed to the same conclusion: Interplay gets it.

Here’s how to do this in your own documents:

  1. Write down everything your audience gets from your solution. Not what it does, but how it improves your customers’ lives, bottom line, productivity, and more. Short phrases work best.
  2. Break apart your audience into three hierarchical groups. You might already have such groups profiled and saved as personas for your inbound marketing efforts.
  3. Apply each of the topics in step 1 into each of the three groups in step 2.
  4. Shrink each topic for the top-level audience into a few keywords, leave short phrases as is for the mid-level audience, and expand on phrases into longer descriptions for the lower-level audience. You shouldn’t have more than about 5 for each group. Save these as persona-based keywords.
  5. As an added benefit, you now have a bunch of SEO keywords and phrases, some of which might be new. In fact, grab your current SEO keyword list and see if the exercise has revealed additional phrases that you can add to it.
  6. Add the top words and phrases from your SEO list beneath the phrases you saved in step 4.
  7. Write the document or web page (or re-write an existing one) with the phrases from step 4 in their rightful places and also sprinkle the most applicable SEO terms throughout those same sections. Of course, the headlines and captions might get a bit crowded so you might need to just focus on the most important or applicable ones.

Executive summary

By strategically placing topics that matter to various segments of your target market, you can attract all of them with a single document. As that document gets passed around, they each can gain something from it, and find those things easily because they are in places that match their natural consumption habits.

By serving all of layers of a target customer in one document, companies can reduce publishing costs.

Please download the detailed white paper on this topic below.