I need to proclaim my love for Eric Wittlake’s recent post in Business 2 Community, where he talks about the underlying message behind a LinkedIn event he attended (Tech Connect 14). In it, the founder of Khan Academy, Salman Khan, talked about his vision of delivering a “world-class education.” Wittlake takes this message and runs with it, challenging marketers to rethink their approach to content quality.
Essentially, Wittlake says that B2B buyers aren’t only raising their expectations—they’re restructuring them at an elemental level. The old expectations (better, free information) have long since passed, and sellers who dwell there need to catch up and recognize that the buyers of today and tomorrow are going to be demanding “world-class” learning. The sooner we recognize this, the better chances our businesses have of staying strong for the long haul.
This argument is a clarion call to all the marketers who have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon and mistakenly think quantity = quality. I think Wittlake encapsulated a long-held belief of mine (as apparently illustrated in this conference) that teaching is the true differentiator in B2B sales. Indeed, Fathom’s own Chief Revenue Officer, Jeff L. Herrmann, likes to talk about the new role of the sales professional as educator and resource. (We at Fathom have even just launched a website centered on this philosophy.) The more resourceful you are to the buyer, the more likely the buyer is to trust you and believe that you have buyer interests at heart because you understand the needs and can challenge the open-minded to consider a new, more productive way of looking at a situation.
As a former full-time teacher who never turns off his inner educator, I gravitate toward this belief and try to live it every day in my role as a content marketer. If what I’m writing and editing helps to teach other people something they should know, I feel like I’m doing my job well. Call it a mission.
And a mission it is—I chose this word deliberately. Make no mistake: If the gap between B2B marketers and buyers is really a ‘deep and growing chasm,’ in Wittlake’s words, then the significance is that all the buyers of today (especially the young ones) are increasingly being conditioned to expect world-class learning from the sources they deem reputable. The clear implication is that in order to be reputable, your teaching (i.e., resourcefulness) needs to be world-class.
How much of your content today is world-class? How much of your website educates your buyers in a world-class manner? What distinguishes your collateral and communications as elite among your competitors? B2B marketers concerned about the future of their businesses should be asking themselves these questions. I know I will. For your sake, I sincerely hope you are, too.
Download Fathom’s content brand voice questionnaire (Microsoft Word) to speak a unified message.