Content Marketing

If we asked 10 clients for their definition of content marketing we’re likely to get 10 very different answers.

Content marketing is nothing new, however, the explosion of channels over which to distribute content appears to have created a new wave of interest in the use of content, hence, the interest in content marketing.

So, what exactly is it?

The Content Marketing Institute says this:

“Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

The keys here are:

  • Valuable
  • Relevant
  • Consistent
  • Clearly defined audience
  • Objective – driving profitable customer action

Okay, good start – then what?

Importantly you must make the mind shift of moving away from wanting to sell or pitch your products or service.

Your B2B audience is looking for content that will help them to become more knowledgeable and intelligent. Deliver what they are looking for consistently, in the places where they are looking, and not only will they reward you with business and loyalty, they become firm evangelists and will share the content to help others – this is like paying it forward and relies on a giving mentality.

Put together a content marketing strategy – it serves as a guide, will help you to develop your thinking over time, help you to engage others on your content journey and help you to justify budget and track your results so you know what works and what doesn’t.

As in all planning processes we always begin with who, how, what and why – in whichever order suits you.

Why do it? What do you need to accomplish from your content marketing?

  • Product awareness?
  • Need awareness?
  • Brand awareness or reinforcement?
  • Trust in brand?
  • Market leadership?
  • Lead conversion?

Who are you communicating with?

  • Do you really know who your customer is?
  • How big is the market?
  • Have you worked on persona development?
  • Do you know how they behave, rather than their demographics?
  • Do they behave differently in different sectors?
  • Do you need to appeal to influencers and decision makers?
  • What are their needs?
  • Why should they be interested in you?
  • What can you offer that no one else can?
  • What do you want to communicate to them?
  • When do you want to communicate with them?

What is the sales process? Usually it looks something like this:

  • Brand awareness – unknown to them
  • Information search
  • Lead – knows something about you, could be interested
  • RFI, RFP, other pricing request
  • Nurture – interested in you
  • Purchase decision
  • Competitive alternative
  • Short list
  • Conversion – sale, customer acquisition
  • Satisfaction
  • Retention, becomes loyal customer
  • Upsell – has reasons to buy more from you
  • Evangelist – becomes a fan of yours

How can you reach your audience – which channels will you use and when with what content?

  • Website
  • Email
  • Social Media – which ones, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest etc.

What is your brand story? Is this consistent in all of your communications across all of your channels? Is it reflected in the style of email through to your CEO’s statement?

What content will you develop? Revisiting your sales process will help you to develop compelling content:

Brand awareness Information search Lead – interested
Trend reports Events Demonstration
Independent reports Forums Presentation
Brochures Endorsements Trial
How to guides Reviews Corporate & social responsibility
Infographics Ratings Industry standards
Articles   Awards
Market insights    

Pricing request, proposal, RFI, RFP Nurture – interested Purchase decision
Product features Case studies Terms and conditions
Calculations Announcements Contract negotiations
Checklist, comparisons Investment Terms of business
Data sheets    

Competitive alternative Short list, conversion Satisfaction
Reference site Engagement process Take part in survey
Endorsements Invitation to steering group Communication plan

Retention, loyal customer Upsell – buy more Evangelist
Update with industry developments Understand additional needs Becomes a fan
Announcements   Tells others

Re-visiting the definition:

“Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

We would add, taking the prospect on a journey from awareness to purchase, taking care to appeal to their emotional and rational thinking during the decision making process.

What does your content look like and what is it doing for you and your customers?