“Content Marketing” is trending right now. Finally, if you ask me. Catchy, slogan-based marketing certainly attracts attention, but as companies share more of their expertise using a few more words, they help their customers to more informed purchase decisions. This customers like, which is why it’s time for companies to get trendy!
So what is content marketing, really? According to Wikipedia, content marketing is “any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers.”
Looking at the Content Marketing Institute’s definition (which I like better), 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.” And it continues: “In short, instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”
“Information that makes your buyer more intelligent.” What buyer wouldn’t want that position? Hence, content marketing is to focus your marketing on telling the longer story, rather than on the eye-catching slogan. And to do this in a format which attracts the readers/viewers, yet gives them the time to reflect and draw their own conclusions. Done in the right way, this can shorten the sales process.
Let’s be honest, the ultimate goal of any marketing effort is sales. In B2B, “sales” can often be a lengthy process winding between extremes. With several customer representatives involved in reviewing your offer, your Key Account Manager (KAM) is left with the challenge to cover the broader picture as well as the details in the very same customer meeting. There is an obvious risk that the customer’s most important question is left without an answer.
So let’s add content marketing to the mix: What if white papers, explanatory videos, reference cases, and value-argumentation infographics, were all available for the customer representatives to access at their own convenience? And why not a webinar featuring your experts, timed to match the current discussions with the customer? Content marketing aligned with the sales process. Your expertise shared with the relevant decision influencers at the relevant stage in their purchase process. This is where content marketing can make a real difference.
Sharing expertise openly in this way can certainly meet some company-internal resistance, but looking back it’s really nothing new. Many companies, particularly B2B, have been publishing white papers, reports, even trainings and webinars for years, and it does build trust in the company’s capabilities. The difference today is that with the vast spread and usage of the internet, your customers will expect to find the information online. So why not allow them to get it from you?