Why BtoB Marketers Must Learn to Create and Curate Content

Content Marketing – the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers — is not a new concept. Backin Baking Powder was sharing recipes on its packaging for many years before compiling them into a cookbook in 1891.   The cookbook was updated annually for 100 years and the recipes can now be found on a website commemorating the company founder, Dr. Oetkin (http://www.oetker.ca/ca-en/index.html).

Given that the concept has been around well over 100 years, why is Content Marketing – once again – buzzing in the marketing sphere? Two things have happened to bring content marketing back to the forefront: The ubiquity of Smart Phones loaded with social media apps and the seamless ability to capture analytics regarding these social interactions.

For business-to-business marketers, embracing content marketing is especially important because product offerings are becoming more complex, and typically b-to-b products are more technical than consumer products. Customers can become overwhelmed in the product evaluation process. They often appreciate companies that provide non-promotional content about a complex product category (instead of about the company’s product) as a way of making customers more informed buyers. Ironically, this can bestow a halo of knowledge on the educating company that leads to trust (and sales!)

Segmentation and Profiling are the Keys to Finding and Creating Great Content

So, how does a marketer get started on creating content that positions her company as an expert and “fountain of knowledge” in her industry? As always, she must first understand what her prospects and customers emerging needs are!

In our modern, technology-driven world, people are connected 24/7 and have an inherent drive to learn and share with others in their network. According to a study by Ogilvy, 80% of a marketing campaigns reach comes from amplification through advocacy. Such advocacy creates a net of consumers who interact with your brand, products and or/services day and night. Yet, each individual consumer within the net is sitting in a different portion of the awareness & buying process.

For marketers this means a comprehensive buyer persona must be created and the content for these personas must be mapped. A persona is an archetypal character that is an amalgamation of demographics, attitudes and/or behavior of a group of people.  A tightly- segmented profile for each persona determines the relevant content across the awareness and buying process for the identified groups. In our book The Accidental Marketer, Chapter 3 details how to find customer segments and generate lots of ideas for powerfully communicating with them in relevant ways.

While there is a plethora of original content in most companies that can be re-purposed for each segment, the best part about the prevalence of social media is that external content can be recycled/reused across the social platforms. It’s simply a matter of adding an insightful comment which re-frames the message to fit your strategic goals and, in the process, moves the conversation forward. A good benchmark to keep in mind is 35% curated/syndicated content to 65% created content.

A “Not Do” — and a Couple of “Must-Do’s” – When it Comes to Content Marketing

BtoB companies, especially those that are regulated, have spent years controlling the release of information under the guise of maintaining corporate identity and regulatory compliance.   Many are still terrified of the multi-directional nature of the conversation inherent in content marketing via social media channels.

Such control is a no-no in today’s environment. Companies must be prepared to monitor and respond to the reactions elicited by the content in their marketing, lest they seem impersonal in relation to competitors who get the dynamics of the social media environment. This requires an investment in resources, which leads to the obvious question of “what is the return on this investment?”

While content marketing ROI is not always easy to measure, a very cool new twist that Dr. Oetkin couldn’t benefit from back in the day is the immediate access to analytics. For the first time we have the ability to know what content has captured the interest of potential customers in real-time. With the use of marketing automation, individual content can and is immediately updated.

The analytics and trends that are gleaned from guided, multi-directional conversations helps marketers predict what is and will be of interest to the identified segments as well as adding depth and dimension to each persona. The immediacy of information promotes the Agile Marketing concept of “try – fail fast – try again” by allowing rapid re-vectoring of content, messages, and other planned tactical advances used to shape the market, to build awareness, to enhance/develop new products and to increase sales.

These analytics are leading to a tighter-loop in measuring content marketing ROI. Some companies are learning to connect the dots from likes/re-tweets/links to purchase intent to sales. Using these analytics and tying them to some easily-trackable metrics are must-do’s to show your entire organization that the investment in content marketing is improving the bottom line.

Grabbing hold of these new tools (social media and analytics) while applying the marketing fundamentals of a well-developed strategy with strong segmentation will allow b-to-b marketers to innovate and flex in new ways and become fountains of industry knowledge.

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