Seventy-three percent of business-to-business (B2B) marketers are producing more content than they did a year ago, and 93 percent are using a range of content-based strategies. These stats, released by the Content Marketing Institute just this week, only confirm that content marketing has arrived – and many B2B marketers are onboard.
But doing it and doing it right are two different things.
Content marketing is defined as the creation or sharing of content for the purpose of engaging current and potential consumer bases, Wikipedia says. If B2B marketers approach content marketing as just another source to build “brand awareness”— and simply produce more content with the hope of getting more page views— they may miss a bigger opportunity.
According to a recent study by Forrester, 98 percent of business decision-makers read blogs, watch videos or listen to podcasts. Another study, by Chaotic Flow, reported that the average B2B buyer is 60 percent of the way through the purchase cycle before she engages a sales person. And according to a recent report by the CMO Council, 87 percent of decision-makers say online content impacts their choice in service provider.
The key to successful B2B content marketing lies in creating well thought out, targeted content that focuses on engaging customers and starting conversations. To do that, B2B marketers need to consider creating a strong editorial strategy as part of their content marketing efforts. That editorial strategy must be rooted in corporate journalism, which helps organizations distinguish their brands through the quality of their content. And that strategy must include empathy, which in this context involves understanding the elements that make a story worth telling combined with an understanding of an audience’s information needs.
The majority of B2B content marketing literature talks about lead generation being the primary objective for content marketing efforts. In our view, professional services firms need to be wary of this approach. When you pursue leads, the content is more about you and less about the information needs of the audience. The objective should be to build relationships by focusing on quality and relevance. Business development is the ultimate objective and those opportunities will come. Professional services firms can impact people’s buying decisions and create and deepen relationships with stakeholders through compelling, firm-owned content that has a defined editorial strategy behind it.