Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to listen in on MAI’s live Roundtable: “The Quest for Content”—a discussion geared towards using content to move buyers through their buying process. The expert panel focused on a variety of topics like mapping content to buyers’ needs, creating a “content blueprint”, and how lead nurturing contributes to the overall content strategy. It was an interesting discussion that had me thinking about what is truly the foundation of an effective content strategy. I was quickly reminded of a presentation I viewed earlier this year which I feel is extremely relevant here. At the Content Marketing Retreat back in January, Rod Brooks (VP and CMO of PEMCO Insurance) presented on the “Real World Challenges of Content Marketing”. He spoke about focusing on the basics and ensuring that we are not overly consumed with the bigger picture. As a B2C marketer, Brooks provided great ideas and examples on content marketing to consumers. However, the three basics he discussed are necessary for B2B marketing as well.
Marketing Health and Fitness
Like health and fitness for the body, marketing health and fitness is about staying in shape and ahead of the competition. It is important to stay on top of what new developments and strategies are on the rise and which are no longer effective. If marketers are not consistently working to improve their methods and strategies, it will become more challenging to get (and stay) ahead of competitors. For B2B marketing, this could mean keeping relevant in conversations and trends on social media sites or sharing thought leadership through specific pieces of content or blog posts.
Writing and Sharing Content
Right now, for B2C and B2B marketers, content marketing is and has been the focus of many conversations—like “The Quest for Content”. Since buyers have moved online for gathering purchasing information, marketers must move their content where buyers will read it— websites, social media platforms, blogs. However, Brooks differentiates between “social media” and being “socially engaged”. He says social media is simply the tool, while being socially engaged focuses on giving your online content the human touch. For B2B marketers, it is important for our content to be personable. Even though B2B means we focus on business, we must tailor our message to the individual. Similar to what the MAI experts touched on, the most effective way of doing this is to define buying personas and buying stages (who are we talking to? and what are their pain points?). The answers to these questions will allow us to customize and map our content to our buyer’s needs.
After content is written, it must then be shared efficiently and effectively in order to have an impact on prospects. Social media sites or a marketing automation platform are great channels for strategically meeting an online audience.
Make Meaningful Connections
The final “basic” Brooks discussed is the importance of making meaningful connections with customers. For B2B marketers, making connections with other businesses can be a little more challenging than with individuals, but it is no less important. Customers (businesses and people alike) overwhelmingly distrust the companies they are buying from. Rather they are much more likely to believe the opinions of other consumers. By making meaningful connections you are not just creating customer loyalty, you are creating customer advocates. According to Brooks, customer advocates do not just recommend your brand; they DEFEND your brand. For B2B marketers, one helpful strategy for connecting with B2B buyers is to create and tell your company story. In doing so, you are connecting on a personal level that will be easily relatable. The human approach is the key to creating meaningful customer connections with B2B buyers and turning them into customer advocates.
Keeping the basics at the forefront of your mind is essential for staying focused and remaining on track. As Rod Brooks points out in his presentation, it is difficult to move forward without first completing the basics. Whether it is for B2C or B2B marketing, it is important to maintain these key practices before expecting to be successful with the "bigger picture".
For the entire presentation from Rod Brooks at the Content Marketing Retreat, click here.
For Manticore’s Blueprint for Using Content to Connect with Buyers, click here.