Content Marketing is not the task of Marketing
Advertisement overload and content overload are causing buyers to be blind for outbound marketing. Marketers these days are turning to content marketing as a way to break through the blindness and information clutter.
Because of the abundance of information out there, buyer behavior is changing. As Michael Brenner, @B2BMKTGInsider, one of my favorite marketers likes to put it :
“Buyers wait until they have completed 60-80% of their research before reaching out to vendors”.
Buyers turn to their “circles of trust”, on and off-line. Vendor information, social Media and word of mouth remain the major sources of influence to buyers according to the Buyersphere 2012 report.
The millennial effect, which describes the way the generation born after 1980 who never knew a time without internet and mobile phones, turn to social media networks for information and advice. People from this generation are slowly becoming the decision-makers of the future.
The shift of power to buyers
All these changes are causing a major shift of power:
- from site centric to user centric: buyers where informed where they go, today buyers have access to information on-line and through their networks, where-ever they are.
- from brand image to transparency: companies can no longer hide imperfections or bad behavior. They need to be open, authentic and transparent. If not they get heavily punished by the public opinion (see this Toyota case).
- from the sales guy to the buyer: buyers these days often know more then the sales guy, because they have lots of sources of information before they buy. Buyers have very detailed and specific questions, which sales people or organizations will need to able to answer.
The changing role of marketing and sales
The buying cycle used to be pretty straightforward: marketing creates leads, sales converts leads into opportunities. Buyers create their longlist and their shortlist, and with some luck you end up with a sale. However, this shortlist is less and less influenced by marketers or sales people.
Today Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Slideshare are influencing that shortlist.
If you are not found on these networks, you do not exist ! It’s happening out there now. People are searching for your products using their ways to describe their requirements or business issues.
How to responds to the changing buying behavior?
Many marketers are turning to content marketing as a way to communicate and reach their buyers. Companies aware of this changing buying behavior and the changing role of marketing and sales are planning for a content marketing strategy:
- Create a process to listen to requirements and business issues across the buying cycle and lifecycle of your customers.
- Plan and build content with their buyers in mind
- Set the content free and promote it heavily
- Help their organization to become socially empowered.
This is not the task of marketing
The responsibility for this task is not the marketing department, nor the sales department. It is the responsibility of literally every employee in a company:
- Everyone should be able to listen to questions of customers.
- Everyone should be able to answer these questions and business issues of customers.
- Answers can be better products.
- Answers can be online content that is answering the questions of buyers or gives answers to their business issues.
Everything starts by listening to the needs of customers. As a company you create business advantage for your customers by contributing as an organization with information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration.
Get ready. Develop your strategy. Develop your processes and workflow. Communicate, educate, train and change your organization.
And be successful.
Tom De Baere