Choose Your Own Adventure books were a staple when I was growing up. I could read them for hours, choosing different paths and seeing each outcome unfold.
As a child, these books gave me a sense of control, they engaged me with choices and opportunities throughout the book.
Today, B2B marketers use content to meet the information needs of their audiences. However, the experience is often built on the assumption the marketer knows best, with a carefully planned stream of content dictated for each person.
B2B buyers are well educated adults. While it is true that too many choices can be paralyzing, buyers can handle at least as much choice as a 10 year old can. In addition, providing choice involves and engages people and puts them in control, allowing them to choose the path (or adventure) that is right for them.
As a marketer, your role is to lay out the potential paths and start your audience down a path that will engage them. Once they are engaged, give them the choices that will keep them engaged.
Here are three specific things content marketers can learn and apply from Choose Your Own Adventure books.
1. Provide Choices Throughout Content
The ability to make a choice should be throughout your content, not only at the end. Don’t worry about filtering off an audience this is really engaged in the content. Rather, this is an escape valve for people that are not engaged, and an opportunity for dive even deeper for someone that is very engaged.
2. Make Choices Specific and Different
Links to a webcast and white paper on the same topic do not give your audience two different paths, only two different formats. Just like Choose Your Own Adventure books include big (ten year old) decisions, the choices you provide must be significantly different.
To use Choose Your Own Adventure language, the choices might be:
- Take a customer to dinner; or
- Accept the product development lead’s invitation to join the technology review meeting
The choice someone makes provides information about the type of content they are interested in or the stage in the buying cycle they are at. Rather than someone selecting one piece of content, by encouraging multiple choices, you gather more information that can be used to improve followup communications.
3. Circle Back
Choose Your Own Adventure books would often bring you back to the choice you didn’t make. It was interconnected, so you read most of the book, just choosing your own path through it.
Similarly, the choices you provide should be interlinked, giving someone the opportunity to select a range of content regardless of the initial choices that were made.
Will you engage and give control back to your audience, or will you just leave them with the back and close buttons? Share your view on this approach below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).