There has been some interesting debate taking place on the blogosphere lately about the merits of mapping content formats to the B2B buyer’s decision-making process. As B2B marketers, we’re taught to believe that our customers follow a standard sequence when making a buying decision that looks something like this:
Image via B2B International
It makes sense, then, that we would try to map the content we create to meet the unique needs of our buyers at each stage of the process. It also makes sense that we would pay attention to research on the content formats customers prefer at various stages, which is often represented in charts like this one from TechTarget:
While we wouldn’t go as far as to discount content mapping entirely, we can’t help but wonder whether Eric’s ideas have some merit. Rather than focusing on format (asking whether our target wants a white paper or a case study in the “desire” phase, for example), he recommends focusing on identifying the information our target needs at each stage of the buying process and then providing it in whatever format makes the most sense.Most B2B marketers still go this route, and most have found it to be effective. However, B2B expert Eric Wittlake thinks we’ve got it all wrong. He calls research about the types of content that B2B buyers prefer at different stages of their decision making process “misinformation” and says that this approach is diverting our focus from what’s really important: giving customers the information they need as they work to make a decision. We think that a combination of these two approaches works best. While we agree that it must be our priority to give customers the information they need when they need it, we also feel that certain content formats are better at delivering certain types of information than others. An approach that focuses both on information needs of our customers and the formats that best deliver this information sounds like a win-win to us. What do you think?