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The Trinity Of Content | Vendor, Expert & Customer Content

Ranga Kaliyur
May 13, 2024
May 13, 2024
Table of Contents

The following article documents Chris Perrine's excellent presentation of the same name. Chris Perrine is VP & MD, Asia Pacific at G2 — and a leading mind on all things go-to-market. Check him out on LinkedIn.

B2C leads, B2B follows

Credit card payments, customer reviews, eCommerce, affiliate programs, and self-service are but a few selling trends that B2B companies have adopted from their trailblazing B2C counterparts. Without a doubt, implementing these practices have dramatically improved what was otherwise a tedious, time-consuming experience for B2B buyers and sellers alike. In fact, purchase decisions that once took several months (if not years), now take place in under a quarter.

As part of this evolution in buying patterns, B2B customers increasingly choose to conduct their own research — evaluating features, comparing alternatives, considering customer reviews, etc. — before speaking to sales or making a purchase decision. As you might have already guessed, this makes relevant, reliable content assets all the more valuable. Ironically, however, four of the top obstacles to make good software purchase decisions revolve around insufficient content.

This article explores what Chris refers to as The Trinity of Content — a content framework to resolve these common obstacles in making good software purchasing decision

What is the Trinity of Content?

The trinity of content refers to the idea that buyers view content as one entity, but it emanates from three key sources:

  • Vendor content
  • Expert content
  • Customer content

Before diving into the B2B context of the Trinity of Content, let’s take an easier example: buying a car. Before you purchase a shiny new car (or most other things, for that matter), you consume a range of content — product specs, expert reviews, customer feedback, and more — before arriving at a decision.

What’s more? The consumption of this content is rarely ever linear. Instead, most of us go back and forth between vendor content (company website, dealer, test drive, etc), expert content (automobile magazines, awards, etc) and customer content (customer reviews, reddit, etc) — resulting in a great big mess of a customer journey. This mess is all the more pronounced in the case of B2B deals as they typically involve lengthy sales cycles and several stakeholders atop multiple channels and touchpoints. You might first learn about a product or service via a search ad, a blog, or a social media post — either way, the next few weeks and months would involve learning more about the offering, comparing alternatives, reading reviews, and eventually, speaking with sales. The next few sections explore the influence of vendor, expert, and customer content in this journey.


I. Vendor Content 

The most important aspect with vendor content is that you are in control of it. Everything from the messaging, volume, focus, and placement is in your hands. In the B2B context, few examples of Vendor content include:

  • Website
  • Sales collateral 
  • Case studies
  • Product demo
  • Trials
  • Blogs
  • Ads
  • Events
  • Thought-leadership posts

While there’s no doubt that this type of content is absolutely essential to build up a brand as an authority in its space, there are a couple of reasons why it’s insufficient to rely exclusively on vendor content:

  • For one, B2B verticals are becoming increasingly competitive across the board. If everyone is pumping out high-quality vendor content, there’s not much scope to stand out. 
  • More importantly, however, the trust and influence that buyers have of vendor content has never been lower. In fact, only about 38% of buyers consider the website to be the most trust-worth resource. 

II. Expert Content

To solve this issue of trust, buyers typically consult industry experts for relevant, neutral feedback on products and services. You might have experienced expert content in the form of Gartner/Forrester reports, LinkedIn influencers, or management consultant reports from McKinsey, BCG, etc. 

The benefits of expert content are that they take neutral PoVs and are typically extremely well-researched and data-driven. That being said, expert content is not without its limitations:

III. Customer Content

Finally, we arrive at customer content. When was the last time you purchased a product on Amazon without reading the reviews? If you’re like most consumers, the answer is probably never. Customer content is, by far, the most trusted type of content out there — simply because of its in the hands of (generally) unbiased users that have actually adopted the product you’re considering. 

And there you have it! A combination of Vendor, Expert, and Customer content to drive trust, and ultimately, pipeline. Here are three key takeaways from the Trinity of Content:

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