Is this just another buzzword du jour like Big Data, Pivoting, and Gamification? CMOs and marketing professionals constantly talk about how Content Marketing will increase leads and drive more revenue. But as CSO have you actually seen it? Between the potential and the reality, there’s a big gap.
Why should I do it now?
Despite all recent changes in the customer’s buying process, most marketing professionals still focus on materials championing their company and products. At SBI, we’ve conducted 84 content audits in the past year. During these audits, we find that over 68% of the material is late stage. Product fact sheets and brochures, detailed client testimonials, and technical product information fall under this realm. Download our marketing content audit form at this event to see if you are speaking to all the stages of the buying process.
For ages, this has been the traditional marketing path; however, this material ignores the earlier awareness and consideration stages of the buyer’ journey. And this journey increasingly takes place online. This is the moment when the customer sits down at his computer and thinks, I might have a problem. He punches in a few search terms and reviews the first page of results.
Early stage content is your chance to reserve a spot at the table early, before other vendors enter the conversation. Engage these prospects with relevant material and capture their mindshare. By gaining access early, you can help establish their goals and selection criteria. You also gain credibility as a trusted resource—you’ve shown you understand their problems. As a Sales Rep, it’s great to be the first in the door; it’s no different with marketing.
Why is Content Marketing Increasingly Important?
If your webpage isn’t on the first page of results for your targeted keyword, you are dead. And the game to hit this first page is difficult. Companies rely on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to raise their targeted search terms in these rankings. SEO has undergone drastic changes in the last 2 years. Before these changes, companies were able to game their results using tactics like backlinking and keyword stuffing.
Now the game has changed. Google’s latest updates (Panda and Penguin) were designed to improve “rankings for high quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis, and so on”. Quality of the content is king. This is good. It means search results will be more meaningful to customers. It also means that you’re judged on the quality of your content, not your firm’s revenue, size, low-quality backlinks, or other black hat tactics. The only way to hit the first page is to produce content that attracts prospects and keeps them on your site.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the practice of creating, refining, and distributing relevant and timely information to your prospects at each stage in their buying journey. This means building content that speaks to your ideal customer’s biggest problems, goals, work obstacles, and success metrics.
What is Not Content Marketing?
- A collection of all your company and product specific files talking about how great you are.
- Technical product fact sheets and Instruction Manuals for current customers that your prospects don’t care about.
- Company specific cheerleading campaigns about your commitment to the environment or awards you’ve received.
For quality content marketing, let’s consider Golf Equipment Manufacturer XYZ launching a set of clubs for the high-handicapper. Many companies will lead with tiresome “Lower Your Strokes by 10%” or “I never have a miss-hit” campaigns. Instead, XYZ interviews their target customers and uncovers a common theme, “I never have enough time to practice”. XYZ publishes two blog articles “How to get the most out of your practice time” and “Three quick routines you can practice at home”. They produce a short video on common swing errors with an instructor using their clubs. Then they build middle stage pieces of content, “Why the Clubs they Use on TV won’t help you” and a three page brochure on “The evolution in High-handicap golf clubs”. Throughout this campaign, there is no Product Pitching and limited company branding. The goal is simply to capture attention and build trust.
Content marketing is not about your company or product. Nor is it about hiring SEO firms to artificially increase rankings, only to have them plummet during the next search engine update. It’s about becoming the trusted resource early in the buying cycle, and gaining the momentum you need to win the deal. The question you should be asking your CMO or Marketing Director is how their content aligns to the buyer’s journey, and how it has changed in the last year. If they don’t know, they don’t know content marketing.
Get a copy of our content marketing audit tool to determine if you’re meeting the needs of your early stage customers.