How does a company move from becoming a promoter of their stuff to a provider of business insights? How do brands become publishers without hiring entire newsrooms full of journalists?
Turns out, the answer is simple: take the knowledge, the expertise and the passion of your employees and focus that on answering your potential customers’ key questions.
As Marcus Sheridan (aka @TheSalesLion) suggests: “They ask. You answer!” This means your company is no longer in the business of just making and selling products. Your company needs to become a supplier of education and insights to your industry!
The Content Challenge in B2B
Content and “becoming a publisher” is a huge challenge for businesses today. Especially in B2B, where many of our employees are stuck on the notion that our products are so complex and our sales cycles are so long that we have to spend a majority of our time and resources explaining why we are better. Most B2B Marketing folks continue to spend their time and money defining all the details of our solutions and imploring our prospects to chose us.
But today, we know that our buyers are educating themselves. They turn to the internet and their social networks to find answers to the questions they have and to find solutions to their biggest problems.
The 1% Rule of Participation Inequality
The first mention I could find of the “1% rule” comes from Bradley Horowitz who concluded while working at Yahoo that within Yahoo groups there were “creators, synthesizers and consumers.”
And he predicted that across the board in any large internet community, there would be a a similar mathematical content “distribution inequality” along the same segments:
- 1% create all the content
- 9% synthesize or share the content
- 90% simply consumer the content
Check here for a great discussion on the 1-9-90- principle on Quora where my new friend Sam Decker (@SamDecker) ranks as the top answer on whether these stats are a myth. Sam states:
It’s an over-generalization, but the message it conveys is accurate. The minority will contribute, more will share, and majority will read. . . you should build strategies to bring those numbers up, and create participation where the content created is valuable to the 90% of readers.
The Message For B2B Marketers
Whatever the percentage is, you cannot be just a content consumer. You cannot be a “lurker” in your industry. You must either become a content creator, or at least participate as a content curator and distributor.
Not only is this true for B2B Marketers, I believe it is the mission of every business to grow the number of employee ambassadors. I actually believe every employee should be part of the 1% or the 9%. Help to tell engaging stories. Or help to share them. And then encourage your customers to join in.
I think the new role of the B2B Marketer is part content marketing, part brand ambassador and part personal branding evangelist. We need to tell our colleagues that now is the time to build their personal brands. Now is the time to grow your social connections, to learn how to tell stories. And when you do, you can grow as a person while helping your company to grow as well.
Now some people think I’m crazy for suggesting this? What do you think?