Last week I chatted with a B2B marketer who remains unconvinced that Content Marketing is worthwhile. He regaled me with his experiences of being on the receiving end of spammy content marketing campaigns. I protested that his response to misuse should be correct use, not disuse. That’s consulting talk for not throwing the baby out with the bath water.
I get that the stakes are now higher in content marketing – there are many more players putting our ebooks, posts, white papers and the like. My contention, however, is that there remain relatively few marketers who publish high calibre, well-researched and well written content. Although the swathes of superficial content has muddied the waters, those producing quality content continue to reap the benefits in their industries.
Having given last week’s conversation some thought, here’s what else I wished I had said.
It genuinely helps people
Older marketing was focused on persuasive messages, whereas content marketing itself adds value to people’s lives, through insight and advice in your area of expertise. Remember, people care about their own problems much more than they care about your products. Plus, the law of reciprocity is built into human DNA – if you help someone, they’re likely to feel a desire to reciprocate in some way.
It positions your company as a thought leader
People don’t buy products, they buy into other people. Being more specific, buying into other people usually involves buying into the person (character) and their approach (competence). Particularly in complex, sophisticated “big ticket” B2B sales, people tend to buy into a company’s approach, philosophy or point of view before anything else. So, using content marketing to expose people to your company’s ideas and expertise is powerful.
It creates awareness of your company
Deemed more credible than advertisements, and considerably cheaper, why would you not want to raise awareness among your key audiences in this way?
It motivates new prospects to make the first move
When your content is hitting issues and interests people care about, you’ll find most those people are more likely to part with their contact details. Psychologically that’s significant, as in her mind, the prospect has made the first move and hence experiences your reciprocation more favourably. Handled sensibly, that can be the beginning of something meaningful.
It nurtures existing prospects
People who work for companies that need what you sell typically move through various phases in their buying journey. We may label those phases differently, but in broad-strokes they move through:
- Being unaware of the problem
- Understanding what needs fixing
- Scanning solutions available
- Experiencing demonstration of expertise
- Considering differentiation of solutions
- Confirming validation of product/company
Content can be developed with these stages in mind, and mapped to a prospect’s journey. Once these kinds of content resources have been created, they really do become gifts that keep on giving. They can be used again and again, as they’re not necessarily publicly available.
It encourages your industry ecosystem to consult you
A commitment to consistently putting out well written, thoughtful and informative content will bear fruit in interview requests, speaking invitations and other opportunities.
It does wonders for the rankings in Google
Forget traditional SEO. Google reads every page on the internet, and what Google loves more than anything else is finding fresh, original prose not seen elsewhere. Once found, Google usually sends traffic to measure engagement levels with the article. If engagement levels are good, you’ll see your rankings improve.
It fuels your social media
While your competitors are flogging Twitter and LinkedIn with poorly-disguised sales pitches, you become a media darling by sharing useful stuff people benefit from reading
It makes your salespeople look good
Even if they’re commission-crazed sales animals, they’ll quickly catch onto the fact that your content makes them seem smart and helpful. This is a good thing.
It builds your database
If you haven’t communicated with your database in the last six months, you now have a spam relationship. A database of contacts means very little, but a database of people who are in the habit of accepting occasional communication from you is gold.