Whenever I talk to fellow marketing managers about Content Marketing, I feel as if the word “content” in itself just kills the whole conversation.
When the word content is used, people think of text. They think of paper, copywriting, layout, online and print. Some are more informed, and know that content marketing is more than the output of content creators.
Content marketing is all about providing customers with answers to their questions. The format in which these answers are delivered to them is irrelevant. By providing these answers, you lift your brand to become a company that is seen as a go-to-resource for knowledge and insight. By providing these answers you become a trusted party to which they’ll turn to when they have a problem, a question, an opportunity.
And doing that, my friends, is scary stuff for marketers. Read more
This isn’t a blog post about how good content marketing is, and that you should stop advertising. Quite the contrary.
Allow me to explain: advertising had been shifting to online. It’s been shifting online for a while now. The most obvious reason for that is that people spend more time online. However, B2B marketers out there know that click-through rates are terrible. Leaderboard banners, skyscrapers, and what-ever-they-look-like-banners, get click-through rates below 1%.
And still online advertising seems to be growing, according to Google. There must be people who can explain that contradiction. I can’t.
It’s clear that online advertising just doesn’t work. Ask anyone you know which on-line ad they still remember, while we all spend hours per day online. The answer will be zero.
But let me tell you why B2B marketers still need to keep on advertising, on- and off-line… Read more
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.
This post explores the idea of using Content Marketing to increase internal efficiency of employees.
Employees of B2B companies are under pressure. Everyday everyone of us must consume a massive amount of content. We need to interpret that content, rework the content, and deliver output to others.
The number of information channels we need to manage is increasing every day. Not only the classic channels like e-mail, phone calls, or paper mailings are putting us under pressure.
Society itself drives us to join the social media networks around us, for private use, but increasingly employees need to be active on professional social networks.
The effect of this to many is an overflow of information, where employees are missing crucial pieces of information which they need to function within the organization, project or strategy.
The concept of INTERNAL content marketing
The basic principle of content marketing is to have methodic approach to understanding the business issues of buyers. It is also about providing insight and answers to their business issues through creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to a clearly defined target audience, with the objective of driving sales.
OK, let’s cut that sentence short : understand buyers, provide answers that help them through content, to sell more.
Everyone in your company has special needs when it comes to content.
They have different interests, and will only listen to what helps them in their daily work. They might see the general broadcast messages of the management that tries to get them aligned with special programs or strategies. But as in many companies, there are so many programs and strategies being communicated that they’ll only listen with “one ear”, or miss it all together.
What if we would apply the principles of content marketing to the benefit of an internal organization?
Imagine you are perfectly happy with your solution. Imagine that you have a business in which the solution is providing you with a descent return on investment.
There’s no need for you to change.
Now imagine that you are a vendor with a solution that will provide more return than any other existing solution on the market.
You are creating comparisons, providing ROI tools, and doing all the right things to attract buyers with your content.
They are not searching
SEO will not help you, because they are not searching.
When they do search, you are there. But unfortunately, they don’t search, because they don’t need you. They are happy with what they have.
He/She’ll be blind for everything you have to say.
So what do you do?
The perfect world
If they are not searching, they are exploiting their current situation.
They are not aware that there’s something better out there, because basically they don’t have a problem.
But then the day comes.
The day they start being slightly unhappy, and realize that the world they are in, is not perfect. That the solution they have is not perfect.
That day they become receptive. They are willing to listen. And when they are ready to listen, you must be speaking.
When the day has come
Your buyer realizes that there is more out there. He want’s to know more. That’s the day he starts being receptive to e-mails, conference invites, whitepapers and webinars. Read more