In the first installment of this series, I defined Content Marketing and highlighted the importance of adopting a content-focused marketing approach.

Content marketing entails creating and distributing relevant content to your target audience in an effort to create awareness and engage with prospective customers. Content enables brands to share information, contribute to the conversation, build trust, and ultimately gain new leads for their business. By doing so, marketers establish a relationship with these leads, which makes them more receptive to any subsequent marketing interactions.

However, while this strategy seems explicitly beneficial for B2C companies, B2B marketers find it challenging to adopt this strategy because their products or services may not be particularly interesting (at least not in the traditional sense of content sharing). So what focus should marketers have when implementing a content marketing strategy in a B2B context?

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How do B2B Marketers use Content Marketing?

B2B Marketers use content marketing to ultimately identify and nurture leads. They do this by focusing their efforts on select goals:

  • Engaging customers/prospects
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Promoting thought leadership
  • Driving sales

By engaging their customers, B2B marketers increase brand awareness and create a connection between the company and the customer. Marketers then nurture these relationships by sharing content that is helpful, offers insights, and in some cases even provides solutions to problems facing the customer. This allows a company to gain their customers’ trust and establishes their thought leadership in that space. By implementing this approach, they make their customers more receptive to subsequent promotions, which may include a sales pitch. The customer is more likely to purchase from a company that they trust and can adequately meet their needs.

However, there are some pros and cons associated with adopting a content marketing approach.

Pros vs. Cons of Content Marketing

Pros

  1. Increase visibility – Creating information regarding your brand, products, or services and highlighting the benefits provide potential customers with information about your business. If content is readily available for your clients, they’re more likely to engage with your brand, which in turn increases visibility for your company. Remember: more visibility = more awareness = more prospects = more leads = more actual customers (depending on how well you convert the leads of course)
  2. Evoke an emotional response – As mentioned in this article, when creating content it is important to share meaningful content that your audience can connect with. If the content you’re sharing evokes an emotional response and builds trust, then your customers are more likely to share it.
  3. Value, value, value – By consistently creating and sharing content that is relevant for your customers, marketers can build a followership and gain their customers’ loyalty. This consistent messaging over an extended period of time builds a positive reputation and establishes a company as a thought leader in their respective industry. If the content you’re sharing resonates with your prospects, they’re more likely to engage with your brand, which means you’re more likely to gain a new client – or at least get the opportunity to have a conversation with one.
  4. Attract the right audience – Targeted, personalized content is a major contributor to increased engagement from customers. By sharing content that is targeted to a specific audience, marketers can build a relationship with the right audience.
  5. Increase virality – As customers find your content to be useful or insightful they are more likely to share it with their peers and social groups. By creating such content, marketers appeal to a wider audience and increase the potential chances of virality.

Cons

  1. It’s a process – Think of the old adage, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Implementing a content marketing strategy is by no means an easy task. Successful content marketing campaigns require a clear strategic plan, the right people with the right tools, and more importantly relevant content that appeals to your target audience. However, implementing a successful content marketing campaign takes time and only through trial and error can marketers achieve their intended results.
  2. Difficult to create content – The actual creation of content can be one of the more challenging tasks when implementing a content marketing strategy. Often the information you need is scattered across multiple departments or people. As a marketer it’s a challenge to collect the various pieces of the puzzle and put together a story that resonates with your audience. However, establishing content marketing as a priority in your company and building a process that promotes the sharing of information and ideas can help make this task easier.
  3. Not free – A common misconception when implementing a content marketing strategy is this notion that social doesn’t have a price tag. In order for a content marketing campaign to succeed, companies need to invest in the right people and tools. Building a team of content creators, social media managers, and digital marketers takes time and money. However, by doing so companies can ensure a more well rounded campaign that has a higher potential to succeed.
  4. Getting people to invest – Building a successful content marketing team can be challenging, but an equally difficult task is getting management to not only agree, but also invest in your plan. In some cases, company management may prefer more traditional and cost-efficient marketing methods like email marketing and advertisements. While these efforts do have their place in the marketing mix, it’s important to adopt content marketing and leverage the benefits it has to offer.

When executed properly a content-focused marketing approach can be very useful for your business. However, implementing a successful content marketing strategy can be challenging, as it requires a consistent approach, sufficient time, resources, commitment, and the right people.  So how do you get started with a content marketing strategy and what are consumers looking for?

In Part 3 of this series, I will be highlighting the consumption behaviors of B2B customers and some best practice examples.

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.