How often as marketers have we heard a software engineer or a product manager say something like the following:
“Hey, can you write a technical white paper that explains how our new product works? There’s some really awesome features in our latest release that people are going to be pretty excited about.”
In your average tech company, where every third person is an engineer or a technical expert of some sort, it’s a question you hear all the time. And from their perspective it makes perfect sense.
They’ve just spent months putting their hard-won expertise and experience to work developing product features and improvements that address certain requirements and challenges, and they’re proud of it. Why wouldn’t they want to showcase it to your customers and prospects, explaining all the things it does and how it works?
Product Features Are Just One Factor Driving B2B Purchase Decisions
The answer is that product features are just one important factor driving complex B2B purchase decisions. It’s true, every buyer tasked with evaluating a product will research which features your product does and doesn’t offer and use that information as the basis for comparing your products to those of your competition.
But, when you take a broader view of how these buyers will arrive at a decision to select you as their vendor, there’s a lot more to it than what specific features are included in your product.
They’ll be considering literally dozens of factors in addition to product features. These include (to name just a few):
- Product pricing
- Your reputation as a vendor
- Product availability
- Does your product support their business goals
- The quality of your technical subject matter experts
- The total cost of ownership (TCO) of the product or solution
- Ease of installation and roll out to users
- Ease of integration with existing systems
- Impact on operational efficiencies and related cost savings
- Product usability
- Regulatory compliance
- Long-term product roadmap and company vision
- The quality of your customer support and training
Focus on Benefits, Not Features, in Your Content Marketing
So, back to that request from your R&D colleagues for a second. Despite the pressure you may feel to say yes and immediately start crafting that new feature-focused white paper, resist the urge to say yes!
Research shows that the top brands and the top content marketers don’t lead with features. And neither should you.
Instead, respond with something like this:
“Cool! I’d love to understand the new features more so we can figure out the best way to communicate their value to our customers and prospects.”
As content marketers, that’s what we do. We communicate the benefits, whether those are the benefits of our products, our approach to customer support, or how easily our products can be integrated into an existing business environment. Our customers and prospects are focused on what’s in it for them and what we can do to help solve their problems, so we need to keep that top of mind.
That doesn’t mean that the new features won’t have any impact on your content marketing. They just might, but you need to spend some time to determine how best to incorporate them into your overall content marketing campaign. Here are some things to consider.
1. Uncover the Value the New Features Provide
The first step is consult with product management and R&D to determine if the new features provide any significant value to your subscribers. Because not all product features are created equal.
It’s possible that you’ve got a game changer on your hands that will help your customers address one of their biggest business problems. But it’s much more likely that the new feature won’t have much of an impact on whether your product is selected by the buyer or not.
2. Determine How They Fit Into the Buyer’s Journey
When you’ve nailed down what benefits the new features provide and what role they may play in your content marketing, then it’s time to figure out how they fit into your content marketing strategy.
For example, which buyer personas would find this information valuable and at what point during their buyer’s journey will these benefits be most relevant? It’s probably not the awareness stage because information about specific features isn’t useful when buyers are still engaged in the process of understanding their problem and just beginning to identify a need for a solution to it. The benefits of individual features are more likely to be of use during the consideration stage when a buyer has defined the problem and is thinking about the various options available to address it.
3. Map the Benefits to Specific Content Assets
The final planning step identifying the specific content assets that should include information about the benefits of the new features. If you’ve identified the consideration stage as being the right place for this information, then figure out where it fits into eBooks, product videos, case studies and other types of content appropriate for the buyer at this stage.
When you’ve gone through this process, you can feel confident that you’ve done the analysis to determine how to handle the new features and the value they offer from a content marketing perspective. Your buyers will learn about them at the point in their journey when the information is most useful, and you can reassure your technical colleagues that you’re doing everything you can to maximize the marketing potential of these new features.
- B2B buyers care about the features in your product, but they’re just one factor of many that goes into making a purchase decision.
- When it comes to features, buyers want to know what’s in it for them and how these features will help them achieve their business goals.
- Writing a white paper about how the new features work is unlikely to be very compelling for your audience.
- It’s important to determine what value individual features provide and then figure out the stage in the buyer’s journey and the type of content assets that would be best suited to communicate this information.
Get in Touch
We can help you develop your content marketing strategy, including identifying the best types of content to market your products and solutions at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Contact us today and let’s set up an initial call.
Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash