In this series, I’ll be examining Content Marketing and the benefits it provides for B2B marketers. Content Marketing is a fairly established and versatile form of marketing, but understanding the role it plays in the B2B space can be challenging. Throughout this series I hope to not only explain what Content Marketing is, but also how content can be leveraged in your marketing efforts.
There is a lot of buzz around Content Marketing and rightfully so because it’s become an important tool for companies who wish to establish their online presence. Companies create a relationship with their customers / users by sharing content that is relevant to them, and as they nurture these relationships they improve the likelihood of a customer buying their products or services.
This is an important trend especially in the B2B space as the traditional marketing funnel is dying out. As highlighted in this post by NextPrinciples, the brand-customer relationship is no longer based on one-way communication, but rather focuses on “non-linear brand engagement that evolves with emerging social enterprises.”
Although B2B companies focus on enterprise-level transactions, it is people that ultimately make the decision to purchase these products and services. These people are also the individuals who reach out to their peers and get insights or try to gather advice on which brand to buy from. A major resource for such interaction is social channels, which also offer B2B marketers a variety of opportunities to identify new leads and engage with potential customers. A great way for B2B marketers to gather these leads and insights is by focusing on integrating content into their marketing efforts.
This is why it’s important to examine the role of content marketing for B2B marketers, and how they can benefit from this phenomenon?
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What is Content Marketing?
In order to understand the importance of content marketing, we need to first understand what content marketing is.
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute (CMI)
Based on the CMI definition above, we can identify three main components that make up content marketing:
- Ability of a business to communicate effectively with existing and potential customers in a meaningful way
- Helps drive trust in a brand
- Creates a connection
But why is it important for a marketer to gain a customer’s trust and build connections?
Importance of the Content-Focused Marketing Approach
For this we must examine the difference between a traditional customer approach and a content-focused approach, and compare the benefits of leveraging content in the latter choice. Social Media Today offers a great representation of this difference in the following hypothetical example of a company that sells boxes and shipping supplies:
A traditional customer encounter might go something like this:
An alternative, more content-focused encounter may go more like this:
The difference between these two approaches is that the content-focused approach shares more information with the customer, builds trust in the brand, and ultimately converts more leads into sales. When a marketer shares content, they open a path for subsequent communication between the brand and the customer. As they nurture this relationship by sharing content, answering questions and offering insights, the marketer gains the customer’s trust and helps them connect with the brand. Having trust and feeling connected to a brand makes a customer more receptive to any subsequent marketing messages, making them more likely to react positively.
Customer-focused companies benefit when it comes to content marketing because they are easily able to curate content that is relevant, and engaging for the customer. However, B2B companies tend to struggle in this aspect because their products or services may not be particularly interesting.
In Part 2 of this series, I will be highlighting how B2B marketers use content marketing to reach out to their customers, and some of the pros & cons associated with adopting a Content Marketing strategy.
For more content on this topic you can follow the series on Twitter at #CMforB2B or by clicking here. Please feel free to share your comments on this post or the series below.