Everyone’s talking about content marketing, and companies are investing big dollars to jump on the bandwagon—but most are still thinking about it from yesterday’s marketing perspective where marketing’s primary role is branding and positioning.
In fact, a recent Contently survey revealed that 73 percent of companies are developing content to increase their branding and awareness while 45 percent had a goal of increasing their thought leadership positions.
Where these goals are important, they place second and third to the ultimate goal of content marketing—to generate leads and increase revenue.
Prior to 2005, marketing pumped out literature, placed ads, and developed media connections. They went to trade shows and gave away trinkets in exchange for business cards. Sales people wanted “air cover” - just a foot in the door so they could give their presentation.
On the buyer side, when a company was evaluating for a business commodity or a piece of software, they would talk to an analyst and find out who the top vendors were. Then they would invite those vendors in and the sales cycles would begin. That included sometimes three or more calls for each vendor to get the information that they needed to make a decision.
Now it’s not that way.
Forrester states that up to 90 percent of the buyer’s journey now happens before someone gets in contact with short-listed companies. Consider for a moment what that means—people are talking about your market 24/7. How do you control the message when no one is talking to your salespeople. They’re talking to Google in the comfort of their offices, homes, and mobile devices.
And they are barraged with information from likely competitors. So the bottom line is that if you’re not engaging your prospects through content, you’re not getting an invitation to the dance.
Content plays a critical role in the new world of demand generation, and it goes way beyond branding and thought leadership. Yes, it helps you build credibility. Yes, it helps establish you as a thought leader.
Content is the new currency. Content is how you take back control of the sales process. Content is the best opportunity that you have to influence a buyer’s perception and behavior when they’re looking for a solution.
It’s important however to provide content that people will thank you for—it has educated them on a certain topic, It’s helped them get promoted, it’s helped them form their thinking.
Much like before, companies still want to trust 2 or 3 vendors as their thought leaders and bellwethers in any market to guide them.
When the time comes for them to shop for the product or service that you sell, you’re going to be well thought of and invited to the dance. You’re going to be well positioned and you may get to help design the RFP.
Content is how you build credibility. This paradigm is universal now, and its how the game is played.
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