Jewel Marketing
Taiwan Content Marketing

Buying Committee Indecision: How Content Marketers Can Help

By Jason Patterson

Founder of Jewel Content Marketing Agency
The average B2B buyer's journey takes nine months, with many ending without a purchase. Many marketers would assume the primary reason why is prospects simply sticking with the status quo. But never assume.

According to an analysis of 2.5 million customer engagements, 56% of lost prospects who previously expressed "an intent to purchase" were lost due to customer indecision. That's incredible. To spend all that time and all that effort and then no decision.

This isn't just bad, it's borderline tragic if you've got skin in this game.

What Can Content Marketers Do About This?

The average content marketer might recommend you send the buying committee more content. But again, don't assume. Roughly 60% of business buyers say vendors are already sending them too much content. And your sales enablement content has probably already been sent, with any sales content remaining likely just repeating it.

Any content covering new ground that's likely to be sent at this point is marketing content. And marketing content rarely considers the diversity of job positions on the buying committee, or the fact that 73% of decisionmakers involved in IT purchases are in business roles.

What Should Content Marketers Do About This?

At this point, the temptation is strong to start sticking your nose into your company's sales enablement content. But this is easier said than done. There are territorial issues involved.

The sales team may be touchy about outsiders creating doubt about their skills. And if sales isn't your job, your boss might not want you spending time on things outside of your remit.

And there's another issue to consider. I'm not supposed to say this, but if the buying committee comes down with paralysis, this problem is rarely solvable after the fact with content.

Content marketers must be humble. We're not closers. If we were, why are we writing? We could be making three times as much doing tech sales and AI wouldn't be threatening our jobs.

We set up the ball. It's the sales team's job to spike it. If one of your best and brightest has already been in the room with the buying committee and not won the match, the odds are poor that a lowly content marketer will do better, which is why we should be focusing on preventing this indecision in the first place, by better educating the buying committee before decision time.

Have Multiple Content Marketing Funnel Journeys

The better educated the full buying committee is about what you sell and why they should buy it, the less likely indecision is. It can be very hard to create a complete content marketing funnel for every position that might sit on a buying committee. But there is a compromise.

Much of what B2B companies sell could be described as technical, nerdy, or geeky. And buying committees often have a mix of nerds and non-nerds when it comes to what you sell, or at least the industry you work in.

Thus, you may want to try one content journey for each. A content path for people who understand the minutia of what you sell, and a more business-oriented content path focused on the top and bottom line.

And if you think this effort would be better spent simply on creating more sales enablement content, again, don't assume. Over 60% of business buyers aren't happy with the content they're already seeing, saying it favors "style over substance."

And in the absence of substance, committee members are likely to go looking for other content on their own (i.e., your marketing content).

Don't Skip the Consideration Stage of the Funnel

The content marketing funnel has three stages: awareness, consideration, and lead-gen. But B2B marketers and content marketers often go from awareness straight to lead-gen and skip over the consideration stage.

But consideration is your initial product education content. And in relation to possible buying committee indecision, skipping over this stage is bad for two reasons.

One, when a prospect first starts dealing with one of your salespeople, they might not know what they want yet, which means your salespeople may have to spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure that out with them, which increases the chances of the prospect feeling like they're being manipulated, which is bad.

And two, when you have to spend so much time and effort on each prospect, your salespeople may be stretched too thin, leading to other prospects feeling ignored or inadequately served, which is also bad.

But if a prospect is well educated about what you sell before making contact with a salesperson, they're much more likely to feel that the product they settle on was their idea instead of yours.

And this is something you definitely want, because you want that person to be your advocate on the buying committee (where they could prove a vital indecision breaker).

And be sure to have a diverse variety of consideration content available so that prospects can consume it in a format they prefer (i.e., interactive, side by side, storytelling, etc.), instead of just sending a pile of dry reading that looks like homework (which I suspect is what's driving that aforementioned feeling of being overwhelmed with content).

Create a Product Video With a Narrative

Too many product videos simply repeat key features out loud, only in a slower, more agonizing, and less memorable way than if you simply read them silently. You don't want to do this with the buying committee. If you merely repeat what they already know, or already have access to, for three minutes, you risk losing them to their phones.

What you need to do with the buying committee is engage them, by creating a product video with a protagonist they can imagine being, and a narrative they can see themselves doing. Animation can work well here. And AI is making it easier.

And it doesn't have to be Pixar-level sophisticated. It can be fairly simple and still be engaging. Do this, and you'll be delivering something competitors aren't, which is a vitally important way to stand out to the buying committee, who often can't tell vendors apart.

What Might Content Marketers Do About Buyer Indecision?

Content marketers can do the things I've already mentioned on their own, without going outside their original remit and without needing to involve other stakeholders. However, there are other measures they might take to prevent buying committee indecision that are more extensive.

Create a Product Selector

A product selector is basically a series of multiple-choice questions you ask a prospect. Typically these are questions about their business that you might otherwise ask in a survey (i.e., "How Large is Your Business? A. Under 10 employees B. 10-100 C. 100-1,000 D. 1,000+").

Choosing an answer moves them to another question. And after answering a number of questions, you tell the prospect the product or solution that best matches their needs, after which you either point them to some content about that product, or you ask them for contact details.

I like product selectors for several reasons. They can be a good way to divine the intent of website visitors. They make prospects feel more in control, while cutting down on the work they need to do in selecting a product, reducing the amount of work your salespeople need to do in turn.

However, a product selector isn't simply another piece of content. There's coding involved. Which is why you don't want to make one of these unless you're sure it'll really help. And the best way to know that is to talk to sales, who will need to be involved anyway since you'll need their help with the questions.

Create an RoI Calculator

A return on investment (RoI) calculator is exactly what it sounds like. Prospects put in relevant numbers. The calculator spits out another number.

This might not fit everyone's idea of content, but with prospects increasingly doing their own research and delaying or foregoing talking to sales, it can indeed function as a lead magnet or as gated content.

Create More Awareness

This is a generic-sounding suggestion, I know, but hear me out. Roughly 90% of successfully completed buyer's journeys are won by vendors the buyer knew before the voyage began.

If buying committee indecision is a problem you're facing, lack of prior familiarity with your brand is likely a reason why, especially if you are in a relatively new industry that the buyer has never purchased from before.

Awareness content may be top of the funnel, but I mentioned it last for a reason. If you're looking for ways to address buying committee indecision, I'd try all the other stuff I've mentioned before this first. And the reason why is because brand awareness is not purely a content marketing problem (it's a matter of brand, marketing, media relations, and more).

Awareness of the problems your brand solves is not the same thing as awareness of your brand. And while a content marketer can certainly create more awareness-level content, it might not have the overall familiarity effect regarding your company and brand you're hoping for without some promotion budget and/or a more concerted effort involving those other stakeholders.

If you read me often, you know I'm a big fan of awareness content. But it works better as part of a brand-level awareness effort, not just a content marketing effort.

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