Content marketing is the new black. It’s just sooooo fashionable!
This is somewhat of a surprise when you think about it, content marketing is hardly new. So why the renewed interest?
Consider this statistic: Marketing Sherpa reports well over 80% of B2B buyers start their purchasing journey online.
Your buyers are researching their options, connecting with their peers, all online and all without referring to you or your competitors. Good, useful, well constructed, valuable content is highly prized by buyers in an online world crammed with information that is little more than simply noise.
Your second job as a B2B marketer is to get your content into the hands of your buyers or at least in front of their eyeballs.
Get these two elements right and your firm will dramatically increase the quantity and particularly the quality of leads. With better quality leads, conversion rates will soar and you lead-to-revenue ratios will significantly increase. In short your funnel will flow more efficiently.
This is why content marketing is receiving so much attention presently.
Building a Content Marketing Strategy
So what is content marketing? It means building valuable content that you give willingly to your contacts, leads, qualified prospects and customers that expand their understanding of the issues they face, assist them to clarify what’s wrong, and help them understand how best to fix their problems – one at a time.
Content marketing should aim to trouble the buyers of your target market about the problems they face, to such a point and in such a way, that they take action. Without creating action, marketing is a pointless exercise.
But here’s the rub. It means you have to stop shouting at your audience and do something useful; put your own agenda to one side; stop talking about yourself and the wonders of version 2.7.3 of you latest software or wonderful widget. Nobody, except you, and possibly your competition, cares. You have to earn the right with your prospects to talk to them about how you can help them. How? By showing them you understand their problems and issues.
Is this revolutionary thinking? Hardly. Solution based sales people have known this essential truth for years. It’s time for B2B marketers to catch up. The environment is rapidly changing and the stakes are getting A LOT higher.
The web has fundamentally changed the way we research topics we are interested in and how we solve problems and gaps in our knowledge. Your target audience is engaging with you directly much later in the sales cycle. You must seek to influence their understanding via content marketing.
The 10 Rules of Succesful Content Marketing
Successful content marketing requires a selling organisation to:
- Know its buyers, understand their problems, their business pain and the gap between where they are now and where they want to be.
- Understand that a buyer goes through a journey from uninterested and unaware in you and your products; to recognising they have a problem that needs fixing; to becoming interested in engaging with you about how to fix it; to being prepared to consider a commercial proposal from you; to selecting you from a list of suppliers and becoming your customer.
- Understand the “influencer architecture” of the decision making process. Who else is involved in the purchase process? There are both internal and external influencers. Your firm’s content must penetrate the minds of all the influencers.
- Understand that the buyer’s content needs change at different stages of their journey and you must produce content that is relevant to the stage of the journey that your prospect has reached.
- Have a multi-element campaign that builds your prospect’s knowledge stage by stage. As an example, this may mean educational content like blogs, white papers and eBooks that discuss the buyer’s problem in the early stages and content that validates your offer like demos and trials later in the buyer’s journey.
- Have an automated lead nurture campaign that effectively and affordably offers that content to the buyer at the right time.
- Know when the buyer is ready and happy to engage with a member of your sales team. Use forms that ask question related to sales readiness.
- Create content that supports the entire funnel including the sales team in the lower funnel. It’s important your problem based messaging is consistent across both the marketing and sales stages of the funnel.
- Is able to gather database information from that prospect at different stages of the buyer’s journey and hand over all the information gathered to that point to a sales person. Increasingly the quality of that lead data is scored to allow the sales team to rank opportunities.
- Readily accepts a prospect that has leaked from the sales funnel and continues to nurture that lead until they are ready to engage once more. Specifically designed tactics should be introduced to recycle leads who have leaked.
Content marketing is the manifestation of the marketing revolution that is sweeping the B2B world, inbound marketing. It is in direct contrast to traditional interruption-based marketing and builds a true and meaningful dialog with prospects.
If you’re interested in learning more, download our free eBook on Content Marketing below.
How does your organisation stack up against this list of 10 “must haves?” Did you give yourself 10 out of 10? Perhaps you have some work to do and you scored only 2 out of 10? B2B Marketers are quickly realising they must invest in content marketing to initiate conversations with prospects.
This blog was posted by Chris Fell, Managing Director, g2m Solutions