91% of B2B companies are diving into content marketing according to eMarketer. It seems that the fat part of the curve is upon us as the corporate world realizes that savvy consumers of all stripes just don’t buy the old advertising game. The new bargain is, if you give me valuable content of some sort, I’ll maybe think better of your company. Seems a bit tenuous, but I’ll vouch that it works, or used to.
We (IQ Agency) started our first thought-leadership led strategy with IBM back in 2002. We didn’t call it content marketing back then, but IBM had realized that they were not in the blue box business anymore, they were instead in the business consulting business; that’s why they sold their PC operation to the Chinese and bought PwC Consulting.
The problem is that with everyone and their brother buying into marketing automation systems, which need to be fed with content, I’m afraid the marketplace is rapidly going into content overload mode. Enterprise marketers cite producing engaging content as their number one challenge, according to the Content Marketing Institute. That’s code for: “Whoops! We’re making content, but nobody’s looking at it”.
So what’s a marketer to do? Advertising doesn’t work like it used to and the hoi polloi are ruining content marketing for the good guys (that’s us!).
Table stakes today are having a constant flow of content designed to appeal to each of your key personas at every step in the Consumer Decision Journey*. This requires doing serious work mapping your consumer’s path to purchase, discovering their key touch points and understanding their psychology at every step. It sounds complex and it is. But if you don’t do this foundational work, you will not have the right content in front of the right consumer at the right time. That, however, just gets you in the game.
The challenge then is to create content that is sufficiently valuable and distinctive that your prospect not only engages with it, but also shares it, and most importantly is intrigued by the company that has produced it. This is a very high bar and not for the weak of spirit.
Unfortunately, in content marketing today there is no substitute for a living content strategy effort informed by data and analytics and activated by best-in-class content created around valuable consumer insights. Makes you pine for the days of a clever print ad and a scotch and soda.
*McKinsey & Co.