As marketers seeking to improve our craft and market understanding, we listen into webinars by leading companies in our industry all the time. Recently, in a webinar on content marketing, a head of marketing made the comment:
“The content journey IS the customer journey.”
At first, this appealed to our team a lot! As content marketers, it is rewarding and validating to think of the buyer’s journey as one we can craft and control through our content. However, with reflection, we realized this sentiment is dangerous for B2B marketers. Why? Well, it’s just a tiny bit narcissistic to think the buyer’s journey is driven by us, isn’t it?
If we assume we are driving the buyer’s journey with our content, we allow ourselves to fall into a “vendor-centric” mindset. Instead, let’s stay focused on the buyer. They are the driver of their journey – as a buyer, or as an end-user of a product or service. Their journey is far richer than just the content they consume along the way. In fact, in any complex B2B sales cycle, it is likely the journey to a purchase is being undertaken by more than one person, and each person on the journey has their own set of issues and needs. Between their moments of content consumption from vendors at various points, these buyers are involved in a multitude of activities associated with fulfilling their roles and responsibilities, the needs of their organization, their own career development, and not to mention their personal life. At best, the content they consume may be viewed as markers along the way to a purchase, to mastery of a product, and to a satisfied SMB or enterprise customer.
Remembering that our audience is in the driver’s seat and deciding where to focus their attention across competing options forces us to focus on being great at what we do as marketers. “Great” starts with understanding each buyer persona in the audience and their individual interests and concerns based on their role in the journey. “Great” relies on making the effort to continuously update our understanding of our audience, including their preferences and what they need on their journeys as a prospect, purchaser, or customer. “Great” means we translate that understanding into content that interests them and helps them be successful on their journey. If we can do that, then we earn the right to tag along on their journey and hopefully earn their trust.
So no, the content journey is not the customer journey. Keep calm and avoid marketing narcissism!