“In many businesses (especially in B2B), the marketing department is an order-taking, tactical function that runs on the hamster-wheel of demand generation, trying to keep up with “client” orders for new collateral, press releases, case studies and, at times, marketing-qualified leads (MQLs).”
This is a quote from Robert Rose. You can find the quote on many blogs on the Internet.
It’s quoted this often because many marketers recognize the situation. Somehow they end up in a spin of trying to solve problems all day, and deliver on the internal demands. They are hard working, and provide a lot of output.
But it’s never enough. Read more
Successful organizations take on a content strategy as a centrepiece of their activities. It’s not an add-on. It’s strategic. Getting buy-in from the organization can be difficult, but doable. More difficult is getting people motivated to build that strategic content.
How do you get an organization to take on content as a strategic part of the business? Here are 5 key tactics that help building a culture of content.
How do you create a culture of content creation and education, internally and externally?
1. Find out what your colleagues care about?
When people do their job well, they get praised. Or get a raise. Or get promoted.
That’s what drives people.
A great way to make content creation a company wide activity is to embed it into what they care about.
- Service engineers care about solving a customers’ problem
- Project managers care about delivering a project on time, within budget, above customer expectations
- Training managers care about good feedback from trainees
- Customer support care about how they excelled in helping customers
Find out what makes these people ‘tick’, and let them write it down. Let them know that you expect this from them. Help them in “airing” their personal success stories, insights and helpful stories. And if they do, praise them in public. Read more
So many solutions are available to B2B companies today.
Increasingly products are being industrialized to be cheaper to produce, and cheaper to sell. In B2B, and in high value goods, pricing is less important. Value is more important. But value is increasingly brought by more and more competitors. Competitors with cheaper prices. And in the end price pressure comes back.
That’s got to end one day. One day your value doesn’t cut it anymore.
Where do you differentiate when market values and prices are converging? When your market is becoming a “red ocean” again?
B2B companies don’t buy your products. They buy your vision.
Recently I had to choose a new website builder. After a short RFI procedure, three companies where selected. Pricing was ranging from low to mid to high.
Which company did I buy from?
- Not the company with the best product.
- Not the company with the best account manager.
- Not the company with the best price.
I bought from the company that had a vision that aligned with my vision.
Or, their vision aligned with my vision.
How do you align your vision with the needs of your customers?
This might sound like a sales technique.
It’s not a sales technique.
- Deloitte wants to excel in everything they do.
- IBM wants to lead in IT technology that brings value to their customers
- Cisco’s vision is to change the way people work, live, play and learn
- Philips made simplicity part of their vision.
- Apple made design and usability their vision.
- Amazon made ease to buy and choice their vision.
These are the visions of these B2B and B2C companies.
Ever since I became ravingly enthusiastic and truly convinced that traditional marketing is dying, and replaced by a new type of marketing, I have been following Hubspot.
This company acts on this new type of marketing.
This new type of marketing throws away manipulation, spin-wizzards, and interruption in its marketing strategy. This new type of marketing is about authenticity, being human and open, and being relevant to your audience. They embrace and understand the digital and social world that companies and people live in today.
Although the company was founded only a few years ago, they are already seen as one of the thought leaders in this area of new marketing. Their marketing is impressive, educating a whole new fleet of young, and not so young anymore, marketers of today.
They preach inbound marketing, or content marketing if you will.
“You must do inbound marketing to survive”
More and more marketers I meet start seeing this as the answer to their problems. They see it as a solution to problems like:
- advertising is not working anymore, or not as it used to do.
- buyers become very informed and lead the buying process.
- search engines and social media are changing the way companies buy.
And Hubspot keeps on pushing out and impressive array of content, which keeps building on these thoughts:
- YOU NEED TO BUILD EPIC CONTENT
- YOU NEED TO DO DIGITAL PERFECTLY
- YOU NEED TO DO SOCIAL PERFECTLY
- IF YOU DON’T DO THESE THINGS, YOU WON’T SURVIVE
This inbound model is about attracting and converting buyers further into the buying cycle. And to be honest, the model really makes sense. I myself am a big believer and defender of this type of marketing. And I really admire Hubspot for what they are doing, and what they mean to B2B companies. Every B2B marketer should check them out.
In essence, you are building content that creates trust from your buyers. Trust that cannot be overthrown by competitors.
But what happens if all B2B companies start following this model?
Imagine that all companies go through this learning cycle, and become great in building content, spreading content digitally, and engage with their audience on social media.
- They all listen to their buyers’ needs.
- They all answer the content needs of their buyers along the customer life-cycle.
- They all have “conversations”.
- They all build trust through “giving”.
What happens then?
If content marketing and social media is all about being open, how do I act when some parts of my business are not perfect ?
Isn’t content marketing about showing that you understand the business of your customers, and helping them to better understand what your products or services mean to their business ?
But if you are fully open and honest about your offering, doesn’t that show your imperfections?
Won’t that show your weaknesses?
The chance is high that at a certain moment you bump into a weak point in your offering.
What do you do ? You try to hide it ? Or do you try to “bend the truth” ?
The effect of hiding imperfections
If you hide your imperfections or weaknesses, 2 things can happen :
- Customers buy your products, and because you didn’t inform them enough, they are disappointed about what they’ve bought. You’ve just harmed your brand.
- Customers see your weaknesses, and assume you don’t have an answer to the competition. This weakens your position, and as such it weakens your brand.
How to act?
Competitor attacks, product weaknesses, product issues, customer service issues, … all these can be your imperfections.