If you are interested in a Content Marketing, implementing it, thinking about it, or living it, then this is for you. I can tell you, this is for you because I’ve been pondering about this post for a long time.
Ever when I started this blog, I wanted it to be a blog which give my fellow marketeers information, education and advice coming from real life experiences. That’s why this blog is called B2B marketing experiences in the first place. No bullshit, just usable stuff. I don’t need to see my blog post on Huffington, Financial Times or whatever other big and famous website. I don’t want to use high level talk and difficult concepts or difficult words. No bullshit, just usable stuff.
Imagine what happened this morning when I woke up at 5am.
Yes indeed, ^é#@!, too early. I could not sleep anymore. My mind was spinning like hell, thinking about this blog post. And here I am sitting behind my computer writing this blog post. It’s exactly 7 am. I never thought I would be doing this, because I am usually not an ‘early bird, rise-n-shine’ kind of guy.
I need to get this out of my head, this is powerful stuff.
How to Implement Your Content Marketing in a pragmatic, do-able way, which is acceptable to your organization, which educates your organization on how to do it, which delivers quick win’s and is built to be embedded for ever in your organization? Now that’s a mouthful.
So this is what kept me awake. But I think I’ve cracked it. And I-me-personally, I think it’s powerful. Maybe arrogant, yes, but if it’s useful to you, you probably don’t care.
Ready? I am sorry, this is what you call a #longread…
So here it goes… Read more
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.
Lately there has been a lot of attention going to Content Marketing. Although it’s one of my favorite subjects, blindly going for a content marketing strategy can be dangerous.
Forgetting the core reason for a content marketing strategy
When developing your content marketing strategy, you start developing a process to position content along the buying cycle, or even better: along the complete customer life cycle.
Every piece of content needs to drive the buyer further down the buying cycle, or increase the satisfaction level of existing customers. Having a good content creation process that inherently has checks built-in to make sure the right Call-To-Action (CTA) is assigned to each piece of content.
These CTA’s are developed to progress your buyer through the buying cycle. Marketing automation techniques like the ones I described in this post can be used to automate some of your work.
So when implementing content marketing: don’t forget what you want to do with your content. In the end, you are doing this to do business!
Sometimes all it takes is to have a little idea that solves a problem. For a while now I realized that video in B2B should become an integral part of the marketing mix of B2B companies.
Out of experience I know that creating video is time consuming, expensive, and usually little people actually view these videos because as soon as they see it is an ultra-polished video they abandon. Yet another advertisement video…
And that’s where this little idea comes into play: creating video in B2B is not expensive, difficult or cumbersome ;-)
That little idea
Which video’s have the biggest effect on people ? Often marketers look at themselves when they need answers, and although that’s not always a good idea, in this case I think the answer is pretty straightforward:
- Unique videos: because of the graphical style, scenery or unique setting, they become special.
- Authentic videos: because of the setting, the people, and the topic, it is overly clear that the contents is special.
- Funny videos: we all know the effect of those.
Now each of these 3 video’s can be produced expensively, can consume a lot of time, and might have not enough effect. Unique video’s are viewed and shared, just because they are unique. But that does not mean the video will position you as a thought leader, or that it will bring you leads. The same goes for funny videos: people might even not get what you are trying to communicate, it’s just funny and they’ll view and share.
But what really resonates with people is AUTHENTICITY. Videos that help them solve their business issues, or provide them with information they need to make better business decisions.
What would happen if you start producing videos about customers that are actually using our products, in which you interview them and let them tell how they are actually using your products, and how it is helping their business? These videos are simple, non-glossy and little polished recordings.
One of the first questions that almost immediately pop-up when you as a B2B company start using social networks in your marketing and communication is : how do we act on these social networks ?
Keep it human
Cut the crap
If you were to engage in social media, here is some behavior that you most probably not want to do, like the metaphor I used before where I see social networks as a cocktail party:
- Do you go into the middle of room during the party, and shout “BUY MY PRODUCTS”?
- Do you let them know that you had great fun during a tradeshow presence?
I really do not care that my B2B contacts or B2B suppliers, who you are trying to market and sell to me, had great fun at a tradeshow they participated to. Really, your customers don’t care.
Yes, that’s the big question in the mind of many B2B marketing executives. Until recently, that included myself.
I did not really understand what to do with this “social media” thing. To put it black and white, I thought
- Facebook was for children and not for B2B,
- LinkedIn is for business only and serves to connect with people that I know or do not know,
- and I had no clue on why a company should use Twitter?
I think that about sums up all the prejudices I had on social media.
The moment I realized what to do with social media
Last year I started reading some great books on social media. I admit, I am a late believer, but around that timeframe it started to become clear to me what I had to do with social media in a B2B context.
As I wrote before in another post on social media, you should be where our buyers are. If your buyers, although they might be there for another reason than doing business (connecting with their friends or relatives), we should be where they are. Your buyers are there joining groups related to your business, and discussing trends, features and products!
But I’ve seen many B2B companies using it as an extension of their public relations, in which they just tweet about their press releases, new product launches, their promotions, etc…. Now that’s something you should not doing on Twitter.
Does my B2B company need Twitter?
If you are still asking yourself that question, you urgently need to dig into the topic of social media (you can start already today by reading this blog). Twitter, and social media in general, is being used heavily in B2B by journalists, analysts, but also your customers. They stay up to speed on trends, companies, and news, and educate themselves using social media.
This post is about how traditional advertising has become ineffective in B2B and social media marketing is no answer to this problem. But there is a solution.
What does advertising mean in your life? Do you read industry magazines in which B2B companies advertise? Probably. Usually I flip through them, scan for titles and interesting images that link back to our business, and occasionally I will read an article.
How many times did you notice the advertisements? And I am not talking about us marketing people, who are naturally inclined to pay attention to advertisements, but put yourself in the shoes of your buyers.
Maybe your buyers are not paying attention to your advertisements because they are boring, but that’s another story ;-)
Traditional advertising has become ineffective
It might seem that I am the advocate to stop all our advertisement efforts. Now that is for sure not the case: advertising still has its place to put out important news, and reflect our brand in general. People still see these advertisements, consciously or subconsciously. And as with everything, they cannot “not” be influenced by it, so in that sense it does have its purpose.
But traditional advertising is generally so wide that it has become increasingly ineffective. And I do not distinguish between on or offline advertising.
One-way interruption marketing has become ineffective because everybody is “over advertised”: you receive 1000’s of advertising per day (!) trying to interrupt you. Just to give you an idea: in 1971 the average American was exposed to 560 advertising messages per day. By 1997, that number had increased to more than 3.000 per day. In 2009, it was more than 13.000 per day. And in 2012 you can bet it will be many more than that.
So in effect, people become agnostic to advertising. Just think about it: on signs along your way to work, in supermarkets, in elevators, even in toilets. Because it is just too much, it has become noise.