Get These Two Things Right For Effective Content Marketing

content marketing, writing content, writing, copywriting, Content Marketing Institute, CMI, Joe PulizziContent marketing has been a hot topic in recent years, and it’s an area Strategic Communications has been engaged in for some time. We have written about and given presentations on content marketing frequently, most frequently for EContent Magazine.  This June, we gave a presentation on strategic content marketing at the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) annual international conference in New Orleans.

As we talk with others about content marketing, we’re often surprised that many mistakenly think of content marketing as a business-to-consumer strategy; however, it’s also an important tool for business-to-business (B2B) strategy as well.

So, what exactly is content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “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.”

This sounds like a bit of a mouthful at first glance, but understand that content marketing is not overly complicated; it’s not something new, and chances are you’re already doing it. The term has become popularized by the proliferation of online communication channels, but the concept has been around for decades; John Deere and Jell-O are often pointed to as brands that have been successfully using content marketing for years to connect with their audiences.

Here are two key tips for effective B2B content marketing:

Take a Holistic Approach

This is important to understand because content marketing must be designed to encompass all of the organization’s communications, regardless of channel, to ensure consistency. Strategy is important and begins with a thorough review, and detailed understanding, of target audience(s). The better you understand who you’re trying to reach, and what’s important to them, the better you can both select the appropriate channels (online or offline) and create key messages that will resonate with your audience and lead them to some desired course of action.

Recognize that Value is King

Content marketing is only effective to the extent that it meets some need on the part of the audience it is reaching. That seems logical; however, too often marketers focus only on what’s important to them (sales!) and fail to bring value to their audience. Bringing value equates to engagement, which, ultimately, will yield sales. It’s not an immediate process, but it’s a powerful one if done well. If not done well, marketers will fail to engage new audiences and, worse yet, turn off those they have already connected with.

Turn down the sales pitch, and turn up the value by gaining a clear understanding of who your audience is (very specifically) and what’s important to them; then find the connection between what you’re selling and what they value. Lastly, produce content that connects the two.

Content marketing is a straightforward concept; however, effective execution can be complex. A successful content marketing strategy should be carefully thought out, well documented and constantly reviewed to ensure it’s an effective weapon in your B2B marketing arsenal.

 

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