Content Marketing is hot!
And while it has always been one of the ways businesses have tried to reach buyers, the emergence of digital, social and mobile platforms has produced an explosion of content. This has caused a fundamental change in the relationship between buyers and the B2B marketing and sales efforts competing for buyer attention. These changes have re-written the rules of content marketing.
In a recent whitepaper, Brendan Dell explores The New Rules of Content Marketing where he defines the content needs of today’s buyer and provides best-practice advice to B2B Marketers on creating content their buyers want. Here’s a quick summary:
Understanding The New B2B Buyer
In the past, sellers pushed out product-related information in an attempt to generate awareness of their products. When buyers were ready to make a purchase, they consulted with various solution-providers, maybe talked to their peers and made a decision.
Today, buyers complete most of their information gathering before reaching out to a sales person. And when they do, they are often just looking for a contract and a price. Brendan points out:
- B2B Marketing needs to be about pulling buyers in. Not pushing product information out as today’s buyer likes to educate thenmselves online.
- B2B buyers are avoiding “marketing spin” and doing the research on their own terms.
- The purchase process has changed as most buying happens outside the “annual budget” and at the line of business levels with many more people involved in the buying process.
- 79% of buyers consult with peers, often through social networks, before making a buying decision and they like to share what they learn back through their networks.
The New Rules Of Content Marketing
Brendan states that ‘the impulsive nature of today’s buyer and a hyper-competitive business environment means that today’s solution provider must be ubiquitous.” We have to create high-quality content at a high enough volume to gain a real share of buyer conversations.
To accomplish this, Brendan advises marketers to:
- Give internal brand champions the ammunition they need to effectively reach new buyers with engaging content.
- Support the ecosystem (partners and influencers) who may be tasked with implementing your solution.
- Re-purpose every piece of content into as many formats as possible to extend their shelf-live and maximize their reach.
- Syndicate your content into as many channels as possible. Content that doesn’t reach your audience is wasted expense.
- Be different. A ton of content is competing for your buyer’s attention so it has to stand out.
- Consider the quality and depth of your content relative to the complexity of your solution.
- Define the editorial process and content workflows so content flows quickly from idea to distribution.
- Think mobile first. The majority of content consumption on many channels is now from a mobile device.
- Tell customer stories about how your solution helped your customers to solve a business problem.
- Segment your audience. Test different approaches and apply those learnings to your content strategy.
Define Your Content Strategy
- Define your target audience
- Document the channels and content types they use most
- Map the buyer journey
- Establish success metrics
- Optimize the conversion path
The Single Most Important Element of Content Marketing
In concluding the paper, Brendan says “creating engaging and effective stories” is the single most important element of effective content marketing. It all comes down to the art of storytelling. So if you only have time for one new rule of content marketing:
Give buyers engaging, compelling, thoughtful stories and they will gladly give you their attention, respect, and business.