Most B2B marketers have understood the vital role that content plays in modern marketing. Some argue it has ever been thus and largely, they are correct. But many B2B marketers are struggling to build a cohesive content marketing strategy. Have you nailed your organisation’s content marketing plan for 2013?

The role of content marketing when paired with its twin sister inbound marketing (where B2B marketers pull buyers to them not push their marketing messages down their throats) is a winning one-two combination punch.

Modern B2B marketers are realising they need a comprehensive content marketing strategy that pairs great content with a sophisticated multi channel distribution plan that nurtures your target buyers through their decision making process.

Not all content is created equal.

We argue there are three types of content that need to be generated and delivered to your target buyers at each stage of their buying process to pull them down their decision funnel to the point they become happy loyal customers. (Note: no mention of your selling or marketing processes or funnel, but only the target audience’s buying process or funnel. It may seem we’re playing with semantics but thinking like your buyer is a HUGE change for many of our clients who are used to only talking about the merits of their product’s features functions and benefits, regardless of whether their target buyers are ready or not!)

The three types of content are:

  • Awareness content
  • Consideration Content
  • Decision content

The job of awareness content is to hook your target buyers. This means putting yourself firmly in the shoes of your buyers. Understand their motivations and concerns, their daily problems and challenges in their business. We regularly help our clients focus on the core problems of their buyers; of course they must be problems they are best at fixing. Often this requires structured research with existing customers and active prospects to really get to the bottom of their motivation to buy and critically where they go to find information to help them. In the absence of time or money to do this, your sales team or reseller channel are an excellent proxy for the client. Your awareness content should mirror these concerns and show you understand their world. Showing thought leadership at this early stage of the buying process is an excellent way of genuinely assisting buyers and positioning your company as a trusted source who understands their problems. Key to this early stage is casting the net as far and wide as possible. The distribution of your content is critical. We advise our clients to “atomise” their bigger thought leadership pieces of content into many smaller pieces, such as:

  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts (eg Targeted LinkedIn groups)
  • Short videos (less than 3 minutes)
  • Infographics
  • Competitions and surveys
  • PR and editorial

Once hooked, having genuinely juicy content is very important. Think of it as you keeping your side of the bargain. There is nothing more of a turn-off for the buyer than a “bait and switch” where your content really doesn’t live up to what you promised…especially is its a heavy sell!

Consideration content allows you to reel in the buyer once you have initially engaged with them via your awareness content. As the name suggests, this is the stage where buyer’s have acknowledged they have a problem and that they must now start to consider what to do about it. At this stage the aim is to let the buyer know what you do, but subtly, via such content as “how to” webinars, eBooks, eGuides, white papers and so on. The role of your content is to help your buyers see that there is a way to fix their issues.

Decision content is the point at which you show them you are the right organisation to deal with. The key task here is to demonstrate your capability and remove any sense that dealing with your organisation may pose a risk. Case studies, methodology pieces, testimonials, free demos, free trials, special offers and packages are all examples of content that works well at this stage of the buyer’s decision funnel.

Key to the success of consideration and decision content is a robust delivery mechanism that delivers the right content to the buyer and the right time of the buying journey. This is what we call Context Marketing (rather than Content Marketing.) Whilst email marketing remains by far the most effective tool for achieving this, modern marketers are realising that marketing automation technology and a robust lead-scoring methodoloy are vital to do this properly and deliver the right content to the right buyer at the right time. Lead conversion rates are overwhelingly higher when these techniques and tools are applied. most importantly cost per lead reduces by over 60%, making the decision to deploy a “no-brainer”.

Sewing together a deliberate structured content marketing map with the tools and methodology to deliver your content to buyers at the right time sits at the heart of modern B2B marketing, often referred to as inbound marketing. if you would like to find out more about content and inbound marketing visit our resources centre for access to tons of free content for B2B marketers or subscribe to our blog, updated several times a week. If you are interested in reading more why not download our eBook, the content marketing revolution.