It’s been a buzz phrase for the past decade. Loved by modern marketers who see it as the secret weapon to making people fall in love with their brand. Hated by old-school directors because it’s tricky to track whether it actually leads to sales.
But what really is “Content Marketing”?
Let’s take it from the horse’s mouth. The Content Marketing Institute says:
“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.”
Bit of a horse’s mouthful that, isn’t it?
What they’re saying is that it’s more about providing value to your audience, rather than urging people to part with cash straight away. Warming them up today, so they’re more likely to buy from you tomorrow.
Here’s how you do it…
Less selling, more telling
There are three human truths at the heart of all content marketing:
1. People are selfish.
2. People hate being sold to.
3. People are captivated by stories.
So instead of bombarding people with ads about your products and services, drop the sales pitch completely. Make people feel that you care about them first, by creating interesting stuff:
• Entertain people with compelling and relevant stories
• Reveal interesting stats with cool infographics
• Teach people how to do stuff that your competitors aren’t
• Give people advice in ways nobody else is doing
• Show people what makes you experts rather than just telling them
• Explain your unique way of doing things with short videos
In short, avoid creating anything that might make people think: “So f*cking what?”
And never ever forget, that first thing EVERYBODY thinks before spending time looking at any of your content is “What’s in it for me?”
Types of content marketing
It’s dominated the marketing landscape since the mid-noughties purely because there are more channels than ever to get your messages out there. And you are really spoilt for choice:
Written – informative web pages, blog posts and listicles (which have an SEO benefit), insightful social media posts that tell stories about you and your company values, case studies that show how you’ve helped others, eBooks that address long-term needs (also great lead magnets in return for an email address), email newsletters
Images – educational infographics and useful animations that help your audience visualise stuff that’s hard to explain
Audio – podcasts that demonstrate your expertise, either created by your business or a spokesperson appearing on an established programme
Video – “how to” YouTube videos, explainer videos on your website, webinars, behind-the-scenes at your workplace, unboxing of your products
Why content marketing works for B2B
As a B2B content marketer, your main aim is to be seen as one of the industry bigwigs – thought-leaders who all the other professionals look to for advice and guidance. That’s because B2B customers:
• Want to be educated to help them make a buying decision. Company Blogs are ideal for this.
• Want concrete data, facts, numbers and graphs that demonstrate ROI. You can deliver all of these by telling stories without feeling salesy.
• Spend longer deciding whether or not to buy stuff (because of the number of stakeholders involved) so the more ways you can use to convince them, the better
Successful content marketing simply boils down to building trust with people — the more they trust you, the more likely it is they’ll buy from you.