If you are a “newbie” to content marketing, this article is for you.
I’ve had the privilege to be part of multiple content marketing implementations in small companies, medium companies, and super-large companies.
But the basics always remain the same.
Today I want to share with you what those basics are.
Today, I want to share with you what really matters when developing your content marketing strategy.
Content marketing in a multi-market, multi-product business can become very complicated.
In this blog post I offer some insight on how to solve that complexity, using pain based segmentation and simplification of your content marketing strategy.
The classic buying journey
Customer centric content is what attracts, engages and eventually helps to make the sale.
But when customers move through their relationship with a brand, their focus changes. They constantly go through a changing state-of-mind, depending on a lot of different factors. Read more
Sticky marketing funnels can fix marketing funnel deficiencies or broken funnels. They are designed to do that. But before I explain you how to do that, let me ask you a question.
How well do you understand your marketing funnel? I’m not sure if this is on your mind today. Maybe you’re just to busy. Busy creating ever more stuff. More marketing stuff. Because that’s what people expect from you. Because that’s what you’ve always been doing.
You consider what you do to be a good revenue contributor. And you feel good about it that they work. You might be great in attracting attention to what you have to offer. They might enjoy your marketing. They might like you, follow you, subscribe to you.
But do you “move” your buyers to consider to purchase your products? And how many do not considering you? Do you know why you didn’t move them to consider you? Read more
Content can be actively used to move buyers through the buyer’s journey. Organizations need to visualize this journey. Visualizing this journey allows them to better understand which content they have and which content they are missing. Visualizing the content along the buyer’s journey also allows you to actively move buyers to the next stage in their journey.
Not so long ago Eric Wittlake (@wittlake) wrote an article why you should stop mapping content formats to the buyer’s Journey. He explains how marketers tend to map formats to certain stages in the buying cycle.
This post will learn you how you can:
- use a practical method to create the right content along the buyer’s journey
- how you can actively drive buyer’ss through the buying cycle, with content
- how you can link content with marketing automation
- understand which data the method produces to show real marketing ROI
To understand the role of content in this, you first need to understand the difference between content formats and content itself. Read more
A turkish proverb says “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold”. We all know that proverb.
We have so much to say, because it’s important, isn’t it ? No-it-is-not.
But I am in marketing, so my objective is that my customers listen to me? No-it-is-not.
But I want to speak since I have lot’s of stuff to tell my customers on how to make their business better, more efficient, lower costs, if they buy our products or services !
Our customers would be foolish to “not” listen to us, right? No-it-is-not.
How do we marry these 2 principles of listening and wanting to speak ? Yes you can!
First you listen
Recently Brian Solis posted this image on Flickr.
The intersection between listening to what buyers want, and talk about what they want, that’s exactly what you need to do to have him listen to you and start engaging with you.
Before buyers want to listen to you, as anyone in sales knows, you need to understand what makes your buyer ‘tick’: what is currently a top of mind issue today that you can solve?
Only when you can speak to him using the exact same words that he would use to describe his issues, then he will be listening.
So the trick is knowing what to talk about. And the only way to find out is to listen to “his world”. Now often, customers know their issues, or at least feel that somethings not right, but even more often than not, they don’t have a solution. In many cases it’s already hard for them to describe their problem.
So if it’s already hard for them to describe it, how on earth are you going to speak to him?
The answer, my friend, is by UNDERSTANDING HIS WORLD.
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.
After 2 weeks of publishing a thought leadership presentation on Slideshare, I was blown away with the effect it had.
In only 2 weeks, it had 1000 views. Today, it has close to 4500 views after 3 months. Although for some companies these numbers might not be impressive, for the company I work for and the market we are in, this is great.
Why is this presentation more successful than others?
I believe the real reason to this success is that it is valuable content for buyers because it fulfills a need. B2B companies want to see opinions, and companies that think about the future for them.
Why do you need thought leadership?
Providing thought leadership to your customers doesn’t make sense if they don’t consider it relevant to their business. Customers are faced with lots of questions during the complete buying cycle that need to be answered.
As I wrote before, first customers find answers “in the cloud”, before they turn to you as a vendor for the remaining answers: they visit reviewing sites, read whitepapers of several vendors, and go to conferences or tradeshow to find answers. Based on that they create their shortlist. If you are not giving the answers ‘in the cloud’, you are not going to be on their shortlist!
It is my strong believe that in order to create thought leadership, you first need to incorporate a process within your organisation that listens to the issues and information needs of your customers.
The process should not only allow listening during the buying cycle, but also during the customer life cycle.
Many marketing organizations are looking into marketing automation.
Why? Because year after year they need to do more, with less.
By automating tasks, and by adding a number of intelligent marketing techniques, they think that their marketing operations will be easier to manage, and in the end their lead generation will run better.
But one should not jump into this technology too quickly.
What is the promise of marketing automation?
The promise of marketing automation sounds great.
- integrate your website with your e-mail engine
- automate the registration, confirmation and post-processing of webinars
- set-up lead nurturing campaigns
- get to know your prospects better and better through progressive profiling
- automation of e-mails (website, webinars, events, …)
- decrease manual segmentation, manual lead input, manual lead management, etc…
It cannot go wrong, or can it?
When considering marketing automation you should not jump into this technology without being ready, because you can fail at it.
In a great blog post on BrightCarbon, Joby Blume talks about what he considers the lessons learned after “his” marketing automation failure.
This post is about todays buyers that inform themselves first through their “circle of trust” on the web, and create a short-list of vendors, before they approach them.
You must have noticed it yourself. How do you go about when you want to buy something? Chances are high that you talk to someone who has some experience with what you want to buy. But chances are much higher that you go on-line and that you build up your knowledge by visiting review sites, blogs, or contact some of your contacts on LinkedIn who might have some experience with what you intend to buy.
Oh no, not another post on content marketing
Before you think ‘oh no’, not yet another post about content marketing and inbound marketing, “tell me something I do not know”. Fair enough.
I want to share with you a little story on how I started realizing that indeed the buying process of professional has changed and that I had to change myself as a marketing professional.