All the marketing buzz seems to be about content marketing both in B2C markets and B2B. This article discusses the advantages of content marketing and suggests it may be best to utilize external B2B marketing support instead of using an in house approach

So why is content marketing so important? The main reason is the change in the B2B buying process over the past 10 years or so. In the past the decision making team in a B2B target customer would often source the information they needed directly from the sales person, perhaps from hard copy material or (to a point) via the internet. The process has now changed and large amounts of internet based research is undertaken before any engagement with a supplier (particularly a new supplier).

Of secondary importance, but still vital to any business using its website as an information hub, is the importance of quality content to SEO. Google, in particular, and the other main search engines now focus more on quality content and how that content is shared and engaged with than ever before. Several major Google algorithm changes during 2012 changed the game significantly – resulting in all the buzz about content.

The difficulties faced by many businesses trying to incorporate content into their B2B marketing strategy are:

Deciding what content to deliver
Where can that content be found
What form does the content need to be in and who will write it
What is the best way to ensure content will be read
How will content be delivered and who will do the work

Given these challenges, and the significant effort required, many businesses are using outsourced marketing services to deliver their content marketing strategy. The advantage of this approach is it allows the business to get on with securing sales and product / service delivery while marketing activities go on in the background. Also, a good outsourced B2B marketing agency will have a range of skills in quality writing, SEO, social media, websites and social media which may not reside in house.

The disadvantage of the outsourced marketing approach is the content may lack personality or carry the personality of the agency not the business. It is also important to remember that engaging a marketing agency to do the work cannot be a simply hire and forget relationship. The agency will need basic content which only the business can provide. This content may be expanded or graphically enhanced but without basic content the process will fail.

The first step is to plan out (either in house or with the outsourced marketing partner) exactly what content will be of interest to customers, the market and specific market segments. Then to review which media customers and specifically members of the decision making team read. With this in place it will then be possible to construct at least a basic plan of what content will be delivered, via what medium and on what timescales.

In many cases a good outsourced marketing agency will be able to guide this process based on experience of the various channels and what works and what does not. An in house team or person may struggle to learn the best approach initially but once acquired the skills will be available to the business on an ongoing basis. A Good outsourced agency will train staff if required leaving this legacy behind when they are gone.

A large amount of content will already exist in most businesses in brochures, datasheets and white papers. Internal training documents and perhaps quality documents may be converted to deliver material which will educate customers. There may be information that can be easily converted to how to guides.

In most technical or manufacturing businesses operating in B2B markets there will be a range of in house experts in manufacturing, test and quality. These people may be harnessed to write a piece of content (or at least some bullet point to be converted to content by an outsourced marketing agency) on a regular basis. Either the in house or outsourced team may then take content, publish it via various media including the website, break it down into smaller chunks and re-publish to engage customers as required.