3 guidelines for content marketing

Why content marketing is more than just publishing content

Content marketing for B2B is one of the most well-know demand generation techniques that B2B companies can use in their inbound and outbound marketing efforts. But many companies don’t realise that content marketing is more than just publishing content at a consistent pace. In the article below we give you 3 guidelines to see if your content publishing efforts are really content marketing  helping your lead generation and not just ‘content publishing’.

The difference between content and content marketing

Content in itself can best be described as any word, image, or pixel that can be engaged with by another human being. So this is very broad. Content marketing at his turn has a lot more narrow definitions. One of the biggest authorities on content marketing, CMI, defines it as follows:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Another leader in the field of inbound marketing, Hubspot, defines it as follows:

Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, distributing, sharing, and publishing content to reach your target audience. It can boost factors like brand awareness, sales, reach, interactions, and loyalty.

And there are many more definitions out their , depending on who you ask. In general the above are the most commonly used. If we would see content marketing as a machine, content can act as the fuel. It needs to be created and poured into the machine to work and is a vital part of content marketing.

Created and distribute strategically

What is the point of creating content if nobody is going to read, see or hear it? If you analyze both definitions you can derive some common properties. First of all content marketing is a process focused on creating and distributing content.

For the distribution you can use different channels: social media , website, leaflets, events, media, … . Different formats can be used depending on the message you like to bring and the other ‘human being’ you want to engage. For example social media could be best for already existing business while a webinar or (digital) event could be used to attract new leads and prospect to your company.

So for good content strategy it’s essential that you start with your channel and the message you would like to bring in mind. Are you targeting new leads to make them more aware of your B2B brand or are you looking to engage and retain existing customers?

Content marketing uses a clearly defined target audience

Maybe the biggest mistake you can make is publishing content without knowing who you are making the content for. Content marketing is more than just consistently publishing content and hoping it will attract new leads.

One of the other common properties of both definitions is the fact that they both mention ‘a target audience’. This is the person or group you are creating the content for. This can be a customer, a prospect or any other type of audience you want to reach.

In general B2B companies should take on the mindset that your customers don’t care about you, your product or your services. They only care about themselves and how your company can help them in their job/life. Therefore you have to take a step back and start creating the image of how your typical target group looks like. This is called a buyer persona. How does your ideal target start the buying process? Is he/she the decision maker in the company or  maybe the end user? What are their problems. What do they aspire? Buyer personas in B2B marketing are really important.

Too often B2B companies use their social media channels as a way to just push information about their company. New hires, promotions, facts about the company , and other sales messages. Although there is nothing wrong with this kind of content it should be switched up with more informational content that doesn’t benefit the company directly. Like a research paper, checklist for the buyer, … . This content focuses more on informational goals.

Start creating and distribution content with the end user in mind and your content will have a lot more impact on your brand awareness and demand generation efforts.

Content marketing must do something for the business

What makes content marketing different from plain content is that content marketing must do something for the business. This is the third common property of both definitions. It must drive profitable customer action . Or more in detail it should boost factors like brand awareness, sales, reach, interactions and loyalty.

Because what is the point of good content creation and distribution for a well-defined target audience but not getting something out of it for your company? Content marketing ultimately is a way to accomplish your business goals. The content your company creates must work directly to attract, engage or retain customers in some way.

So take a step back and look at you’re the strategic goals of your business. Is it growing market share? Or is it expanding existing business? Depending on the goal you have you can take appropriate action. Obviously the actions you want your target group to take needs to be aligned with the work of the sales team. Talk with your sales team and see what they want from a lead and how they are handling prospects and customers in different stages of the buying journey. Content marketing is an essential pillar for lead generation (sales and marketing).

One of the most often used techniques is adding a call-to-action in your content. This is a button, video, form, … that can be used to lead your target group more down the funnel of your content marketing process. It gives them a way to discover more about a specific topic or stimulates them to contact the company for more information.

Clearly define what it is you want your target buyer to do and set them on the right path with your content.

Where do you start?

By simply analysing the definition of ‘content marketing’ we established three basic guidelines to keep in mind when creating content. Content marketing is not simply putting content out their but needs a more thought-out strategy in place.

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