Content marketing is about one thing: providing a great customer experience that helps grow your business. If the content is about anything else, it is fine art, like a diary or a painting that satisfies the artist but has no retail value.
B2B content producers are sales people who sell with concepts, words, illustrations; crafted together by a graphic designer. It is preparing the way for the salesperson to make his onsite visit with a prepared prospective buyer.
But the sad thing about it all is that the team of content producers and professional sales people fail 92% of the time to consistently create top and bottom line growth. That was the result of a study published by the Conference Executive Board in 2010. They reviewed 1,780 companies and only 143 had achieved sustained profitable growth from 1995 to 2008. 143 of 1,780 companies had the magic mixture.
Just 8%. Really?
What we need is a new way to turn content into magic, that like the Indian scout goes ahead to prepare the way for the sales team. We need to depart from traditional marketing.
Clearly it is not working.
We need to innovate around sales and marketing practices that impact decision making upstream from the sales cycle. We need to provide content and early stage selling that helps customers make good decisions about how to reach their aspirations and to overcome their challenges—even if you lose the sale, your reputation will grow. You are the people who help buyers make good decisions instead of selling them snake oil.
Use the total experience from distributing useful, well crafted content to making the onsite visit all helpful to the buyer. Then we will begin to reshape customer understanding of their own needs. Targeted, provocative communications that challenge customer assumptions about their own business growth. Create impact rather than just activity.
What happens in the buyer’s world?
Once we challenge a buyer’s old assumptions, the buyer will convene a group to hear about the new reality. You can be sure that at least one person will see a way of hanging on to the old way or that will come up with a different way of resolving the situation that we recommended. Challenges will surface. Those at risk will fight. The decision drags on.
Those of us on the outside seldom get the view of what is happening on the inside, but we know the likely scenario. Again content marketers need to help the sales team keep the buyer focused on the new reality and on the impact of success or failure.
Content marketing is anticipatory and longitudinal.
Times past are gone when the marketing department could prepare an campaign, a brochure and a few data sheets. Now traditional marketers need to produce a huge array of content to meet what are really foreseeable situations. We have to anticipate these expected challenges.
We have to be ready for a long siege that keeps the buyer engaged throughout a buying cycle that is months long and treacherous with politics.
We have to be out in the marketplace with social content so we remain an important voice in the entire conversation. It is not good enough to have a blog that touches the social conversation. We have to comment on other relevant content posted on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook … on the blogs our buyers publish … on the articles in the online trade media. We have to be everywhere or someone who outsmarts us will slip through and steal the sale we worked so hard to win.