Content marketing discussions among B2B, B2C and nonprofit marketers continue to take center stage. What tactics to use? What should the message be? And, does content marketing really work?
Some light has been shed on this by two recent studies conducted in 2012 and 2013 by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. The overwhelming majority of B2B marketers reported that in both years they employed content marketing and, further, that they used a wide range of different content marketing tactics:
Social media (other than blogs) was used by 87% of marketers;
Articles on their websites and Enewsletters were each were used by eight out of ten;
In-person events and Blogs were used by three-quarters of marketers;
Case studies, Videos and Articles on other websites were used by seven out of ten marketers;
White papers were used by six out of ten, while about half used Webinars/webcasts;
And, sixteen other tactics were employed by 10 to 44 percent of marketers.
Given the wide variety of tactics employed, it is not surprising that these marketers also reported using content marketing to achieve a number of different goals, chief among them – increasing brand awareness, customer acquisition, lead generation, customer retention and thought leadership.
So, while these studies confirm the popularity of content marketing (as do similar studies among B2C marketers), across many platforms and with a number of different goals, the key question still remains – what messages should you communicate through all of these tactics?
Understand Your Prospects And Customers With Market Research
With all of these opportunities to engage your customers and prospects, it strikes me that it would be prudent to fully understand their wants and needs in buying a product or service, as well as how these wants and needs are met by your brand and competitive brands.
Some marketers believe they understand their customers and hope they understand their prospects. But in today’s cluttered world of information, facts trump opinion. Without the right message, all of your efforts in content marketing may be perceived as just noise – and sometimes a lot of noise – by your target audience. Not a very efficient way to spend your money or resources.
Therefore, before you spend your limited time and marketing communications dollars, wouldn’t it be a lot smarter to learn directly from your audiences what they consider to be the most important to them in brand selection? Ask them what is most important to them – quality, reputation, price, distribution, delivery terms, manufacturing standards, reliability, eco-friendly, healthfulness, etc. Once you know this, and how these attributes are related to your brand and to competitive brands, you’ll be able to align your strengths to competitive weakness to meet you buyers’ needs.
In addition, this knowledge will also provide your employees with meaningful insights that will impact their relationships and dialogue with customers or prospects. And, as a bonus, the research you conduct for your content marketing efforts may lead to improved marketing and marketing communications across all of your programs.
Marketing Communications Consultants Or Internal Staff
Having the skills and time to develop your messaging, regardless of content tactic, is another issue to consider. Whether you use internal staff or external professionals, this type of research provides meaningful and specific direction on what to communicate to improve your ROI. Then the question becomes how to communicate this message.
Skilled professionals will not present the research findings as a blatant “brand speak” message. Rather, the objective should be to establish trust with your audiences through communications that meets their needs without a “hard sell”.
So, as you continue your discussions of when, where and how to employ content marketing, I hope you will agree that meaningful messaging, coupled with the right content marketing tactic – be it as simple as a post on Facebook or as complex as an in-person event – can improve your reputation with existing customers and prospects.