Content marketing is delivering significant results for B2B marketers the world over. But the rules are still being written and plenty are getting it wrong, writes Jason Ball, founder of Considered Content.Were now about a decade in on the latest iteration of content marketing. While in many areas, the discipline has become far more sophisticated, in others, not so much.
We still see plenty of thought leaders? fitting the facts to what they happen to be selling. Or social media success being pinned on follower counts and likes over tangible leads and income. Or magic formulas that state if you blog X times a week, create headlines connecting your business to something irrelevant but search-worthy and tweet your little heart out, success is a given.
it’s no wonder there’s confusion with so much noise. From those saying content is now the only marketing left (it isnt) to those claiming it can be a self-operating lead generation machine (it can’t), the hype is in danger of obscuring just what today’s B2B marketers need to do to get value and results.
Three common myths around B2B content marketing that you shouldnt buy into
Myth 1: It’s all about social media
Many businesses devote a vast amount of time and resources to social. Some build sizeable followings. Some have made catastrophic errors.
But, on the whole, success still tends to be measured in likes, retweets, and comments engagement.
Too few businesses use social in a way that’s directly tied to tangible business outcomes. Before throwing any sizeable budget at social media, ask yourself three questions:
1. Are the right people there and in the right context?2. What do you expect to gain for the business and how will this be evidenced?3. How much will it cost (in both time and money)?
From here, you can properly begin assessing how much of your effort should be devoted to social channels. Youll be able to take a real-world view of what’s working (and what’s not). And youll be in a better position to invest resources where it counts.
Myth 2: You can’t use content to sell
When did selling become such a dirty word? Somewhere along the line, with the move to a listening-first, inbound-only approach, we seem to have got the idea that content must be a sales-free zone.
Of course, presenting too strong a sales message at too early a stage can be ineffective and even damaging. It will poison your thought leadership, create immediate suspicion and devalue what could otherwise be genuinely useful content for your customers. it’s all a matter of getting the balance and timing right.
Let’s think of this in terms of a classic marketing funnel
At the top, customers are not only broadly unaware of your solution, but they are also unaware they even have a problem.
The question your content needs to answer for them is: Why should they pay attention? Serve them with predominantly business-focused content that’s 90% about the issue and 10% about your product.
Moving down to mid-funnel, customers recognise they have a problem that’s worth their time to try to fix.
So your content must answer the question: How should they begin to address the issue? How have others done it? The split here will be in the range of 80% process and 20% product.
Then we get to the bottom, where leads are traditionally handed off to sales. The customer knows they have a problem, understands the process of fixing it and is now picking a solution.
The question your content must answer is: What do they need to buy? What makes your solutions better than other options? Here, we move into more overtly sales-focused content where the split becomes 60% product and 40% business issue.
Even at the bottom end of the marketing funnel, it is still important that your content adds value to your customers? business-level thinking. Ultimately, however, content marketing exists to help you sell. Without a tangible bottom-line impact, at best it will be a public service, at worst a money-pit.
Myth 3: It’s all about quantity. It’s all about quality
Time after time, B2B marketers name two content marketing challenges they struggle with on a daily basis:
How can I produce enough content?