Reaching potential buyers today is more difficult than ever, but most B2B marketers are finding they can use great content to connect with their online audience. Those that want to market themselves effectively must make a firm commitment to developing relevant, informative, and authoritative content to serve their customers. Regardless of industry, content allows you to position yourself as a market leader.
But what is great content? This 2015 Content Marketing Institute / Marketing Profs survey shows what’s most used by B2B marketers:
The “right content” is the content that reaches the audience when/where they are looking, with the right level of detail to help them learn about the topic they’re looking for. The way it’s presented should really be focused on the medium, the message, and the intention of the piece.
What Types of Content Should You Use?
Typically, we find most businesses employ multiple types of content to be successful. It’s not unusual for more mature websites to host six or more content formats for their audience.
The primary goal in developing content is to assist your prospects as they move through their various buying stages. As you can see in this chart, audiences appreciate several types of content that will help them understand your market and eventually evaluate your offering. And your prospects’ content needs will vary based on their stage in the buying process.
Because each buyer will need different information for different purposes, it’s important to develop detailed buyer personas so you can target relevant content at the right point in their buying process.
Where Should You Start in Content Marketing?
One of the best places to start is by developing a blog on your website that is informative and regularly updated.
We’ve seen effective blogging from almost every business you can imagine. For example, there are several swimming pool builders across the country that have become the local authorities on design, construction and maintenance of outdoor swimming pools. They have boosted their website traffic significantly by developing helpful, authoritative and well-researched blog articles. Certainly, video is a nice compliment to their sites, along with great photography. And they post new articles frequently to keep their audience updated and informed, as well as to attract new customers.
And remember, listen to your audience and let them tell you what will help them most effectively. There is no substitute for actual prospect/buyer feedback to help you develop the best content.
Inform vs. Sell
One of the key mistakes we see in content development is when an overly biased or promotional tone is taken. Buyers want to be informed, not sold. By hyping your product or service too early in the evaluation process, you may just turn them off.
Early in the buying stages, we suggest your goal is to inform users of their options, highlight the facts and educate them on the entire buying process. You will implicitly position your company as the best choice through this method. Content that is intended for use in later stages of the buying process can be more explicit in explaining your value proposition and unique differentiators. The best producers of content have discovered that this is by far the best method to effectively reach their audience.
Commitment to Regular Content Publishing
Content Marketing is by far the most effective and popular method used in reach audiences today. We suggest a commitment to regular publishing of high-quality content for maximum effectiveness. To that end, a quarterly content calendar should be developed that aligns content with the priorities of the organization. The calendar should outline the weekly goals that should be met in the development and distribution of newly developed content. Responsibilities for research, writing, editing and distribution should be assigned with accountability being part of the process.
Also very important to an overall content marketing strategy is an active program of content distribution. The goal of effective content distribution is to gain a wide audience of subscribers to your content. Today, there are many channels which you can use to promote your content. In fact, there are so many choices that we will cover this subject in another blog post in more detail.
Content marketing is a long-term strategy for creating awareness and informing your prospects and buyers of your product or service. Those firms that invest in and grow their commitment to content marketing will lead the way in generating leads and new customers for their organizations.