Michael Brenner Blog on Content MarketingOne of the largest challenges facing online marketers is how to create and utilize content that resonates and then delivers the targeted leads that sales is looking for. The days of sending a list of contacts to sales is over. Some creative marketers call these lists suspects. To sales, they are a waste of time. Inbound marketeering requires 2 simple things: First you need to be found and that requires the basic techniques of understanding how prospects search and the keywords they use. Second, you need to have compelling content that meets the prospects needs. Do these 2 things and you will find valuable leads.

In this post I will explain the 4 most common mistakes marketers make. And I will describe the “halo effect” and how to make it work for you. In the next post, I will list the actions you can take today to deliver targeted leads to sales.

Wikipedia defines “Content Marketing” as:

The creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases. In contrast to traditional marketing methods that aim to increase sales or awareness through interruption techniques, content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action. Content marketing has benefits in terms of retaining reader attention and improving brand loyalty better than traditional marketing techniques.

Sounds easy right? The main reason this is an acute challenge for B2B marketers is the high level of risk inherent in The B2B Decision Process. This requires our prospects to become well informed before making any decision. Our content needs to follow the prospect on their journey from “need identification” to “solution consideration”. The only way to stay engaged with our prospects throughout the process is with content that is more relevant than the competition. And this is where many B2B marketers stumble. Here are the 4 most common mistakes I mentioned earlier:

  1. Assuming we know how to describe our target audience: While internally we may define them one way, the prospects often defy our attempts at simple definitions like industry name or company size. You can see this reflected in registration page questions like “Please define your industry”. What does someone from 3M say? They are in dozens of industries from Post-it Notes to Stethoscopes.
  2. Not understanding our target audience’s pain points: Simple surveys using free tools like SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang can provide quick and easy access to a prioritized list of prospect pain points. How do you know you are hitting the right audience when you conduct a survey? Use your existing customers as the base.  Interview them to understand what drove them to seek a solution, how they found you and why they chose you. Then, audit your existing content to see if it meets those prioritized needs and use prospect language instead of your own.
  3. The “halo effect”: The halo effect is essentially the rule that targeted content will produce more contacts outside your target than inside. Why? Aside from the obvious issues in mistakes #1 and #2, our customers’ ecosystems our larger than our targets. Some people leave one industry and bounce to another but remain entrenched in its concerns. Manufacturers have parts suppliers and wholesalers and retailers that sit on either side of their supply chain. All of them share in some level of the main pain points you will uncover in your customer surveys. And often, pains are shared across many industries. You can make this work for you by using every contact identified in your content marketing efforts to help you and your customers. Support the ecosystem and win more customers.
  4. Assuming the target audience only searches for content within very specific vertical websites: Sales is often the culprit of this misconception. Are you selling to hammock manufacturers, then sales may say you need content on hammocks.com. But the fact is that more prospects start their search on Google.com than anywhere else. And according to the study “The Role of Search in Business-to-Business Buying Decisions,” 65% of respondents stated that they prefer search engines to review sites, manufacturer sites and industry portals.

So these are the top 4 most common mistakes B2B Marketers make in Content Marketing. My next post will give you 6 steps to create content that drives leads for sales.

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Vice President of Global Marketing for SAP where he leads content strategy and serves as the managing editor of the company’s award-winning Business Innovation thought leadership blog site. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

4 Comments

  1. Daniel Oyston said…

    “The main reason this is an acute challenge for B2B marketers is the high level of risk inherent in The B2B Decision Process”. That’s true, definitely.

    There is also great value in building trust and positioning yourself in those times when the target does not have a problem. You are then well placed when they do have a problem and need a solution.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Great point Daniel. I completely agree there is tremendous value in providing content such as news, opinion and thought leadership when there is no obvious or throbbing need. I agree with your point on building trust 100%. The debate there often surrounds the cost we place on this type of content in the form of required reg fields vs. free. I tend to believe the hurdle should be low. However, the pressing need to show immediate return on efforts often forces you to place higher hurdles to content in exchange for more “qualified” traffic. For that, I think it’s important to be hitting on a well-defined need. Thanks for your comments.

  2. Ryan Beale said…

    Michael,

    Great post. Business Owners & Marketers need to understand their target audience before creating content. The good news is that most business owners and marketers can figure out who there target audience is and what their needs are with technology like survey monkey – or even a simple phone call to a current customer.

    Daniel,

    Great point. The trust comes with the educational and value added content. By understanding your target audience and their problems, it is very easy to create content that will help solve those problems.

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