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September 25, 2013

When Content Marketers Lose Contact With Customers

by Tom De Baere
content marketing

Content marketers behind bars, locked away from customer contact…

When Tammy Cannizzaro, Director of Marketing at IBM, wrote about “The Content Wars“, she talked how increasingly difficult it will become to ignite and connect with your buyers:

    • She talked about how people consume content in a different way. Only the best brands are finding ways to engage prospects by creating exceptional online experiences.
    • Prospects are jaded about marketing, she says. They are target of too much messaging. Only when your content mimics a conversation with your customers you will create meaningful engagement.
    • Only the exceptional will stand out. Your content needs to be relevant, differentiated and compelling.

Although she touches the very basic foundations of what modern marketing is all about, I couldn’t keep thinking about what’s going to happen when everyone is fighting for the attention of that same customer, all with these same tactics.

Surviving competitors, competitors survive

Some of your competitors won’t understand what you are doing, but they’ll just have to watch you beat them. That’s their own fault. They just had to make sure they kept up with what their customers want. And they didn’t. That’s what happens when you keep doing what you did before. It will give you the same results as you always had. And when there is one or a few companies doing things differently, better and more relevant, customers will turn away from the old school marketing companies towards the new school marketing companies.

Other competitors will understand what changes they need to make. These competitors understand that the future of marketing is about meaningful marketing, brought to customers through their trusted networks, when they want it and need it. In many cases that means meaningful content.

What’s the square root of epic content? I wrote a few weeks ago. Is the square root even more epic content? Many of us won’t be able to sustain that level of quality. If you cherish your brand, love your customers, and ignite your company DNA throughout the company, you will survive. Because your company DNA is what makes you unique.

But still something is missing.

Becoming Social Again

Becoming social again, no, I am not talking about the social as in social media.

Your company DNA is created by the people that founded your company, mixed with other DNA imported from the talent that you hired or acquired. That’s what makes you unique, and that’s why people want to do business with you.

In the end, they do business with you because they like you. Yes, other things like products and services matter. That has to be on par with your competition. In the 20 years I have been in business, many things have changed in marketing. But the one constant that I see is that people-still-buy-from-people-they-like.

When these same people are hiding behind social media networks amplifying the content & marketing messages, we often forget to do what is really needed: call them! send them a personal email ! surprise them by asking how they are doing! ask them how you can help!

If believe content marketers of the 21st century, are too far away from customers. They are building personas without contacting customers. We leave customer contact up to sales and product management, and the boys and girls in the strategy team.

We take on what they tell us. But by having that middleman, we lose touch with our customers.

What matters in B2B

Meaningful marketing, Content marketing and Social Media bring trust to your customers. But when we jot the pendulum too much in that direction, we forget that we are still dealing with people.

Yes, you are in marketing. No, you are in not in sales. But please pick up the phone. Talk to customers. Have a face-to-face meeting. Understand them.

Those are the things that matter in B2B.

When was the last time you had a really good conversation with a customer?

Warm regards,

Tom De Baere