What’s hot in content marketing in 2014?

In December, I was asked to contribute to NewsReach’s ‘Changing state of content marketing in 2014 infographic‘. A supplementary and more detailed blog post where I was quoted, was also published here.

I thought it was useful in providing links to the NewsReach piece to also share my other observations on where I think marketing needs to move to in 2014. Content marketing, the process of positioning yourself or your business as expert through providing help, counsel and insight, is where your battle will be won and lost.

Type #contentmarketing into Google or Twitter and you’ll get scores of soothsayers talking about it. Here’s my two pence worth from a specific b2b marketing perspective.

There are four trends that businesses need to get onboard with and switch on to:

1/ Companies need to focus on creating a content funnel, mapping content to the different stages of influence and decision making – but it will need to be very carefully tailored (if not completely personalised) to achieve effective resonance and critically, create action in target niches.

2/ Successful content marketing companies will move to longer, less frequent ‘evergreen’ content when blogging. Evergreen means it is good advice that will endure. No more blogging for blogging’s sake. You want your content to hang around – or as Social Media Examiner’s Michael Stelzner calls it ‘nuclear fuel’.

3/ As much time will need to be spent on going off page to seed, share and build influence as it is spent on curation and creation of content. Being part of the right crowd/s will be the single most important challenge moving forward.

4. Creative, graphic content will increase as use of sites like Pinterest increase in business. Just remember that an infographic needs two things – information and a nice, engaging, professional look and feel.

We’re already a couple of days in to a new year. Forget campaigns. How are you going to build your position for the future?

Why information matters in B2B marketing

UK entertainment chain HMV is the latest big name UK retail casualty to the Internet. HMV failed because it took its eye off the ball when faced with the twin threat of Apple’s iTunes (creating a mass download market) and Amazon (delivering cheaper physical products). Customers migrated online and researched their options. HMV failed to adapt and was left behind.

Buyers seek reassurance

Many B2B companies run the risk of suffering a similar fate because buyers are using the Internet to inform, rationalise and justify their decisions as they seek reassurance that they have made good decisions on behalf of their companies and stakeholders.

In order to make well balanced business decisions, business buyers look for information. They need to be able to benchmark different solutions in order to categorise, rate and select the ones that best suit their needs. Across different stages of the buying and decision making process, companies are researching, shortlisting and awarding business based on their needs and the information they come into contact with.

Modern marketing

As a business trying to be front of mind when it matters, you need to market accordingly. Traditional promotional techniques are not working as well as they used to. Advertising is seen as interruptive and counter productive. The needs of niche customer segments means that mass market propositions do not engage or entice them.

For you, the modern B2B marketer, this creates a number of problems not least in selecting the right channels of promotion. Marketing needs to be measurable and needs to work right across a variety of audiences and their differing needs.

How and where you provide the information that customers need when they need it is diverging. But thinking through what your customers are looking for and where they go looking for it can have a significant impact on your marketing communications activity.

Visibility

Increasingly, in a wide variety of B2B sectors, this is happening online. So being visible, promoting that visibility and talking in terms that are helpful, relevant and engaging mark out the genuinely more customer focused businesses from those looking to make a fast return.

Focus on getting your primary online environment – website, Facebook page or other hub – populated and optimised correctly before promoting and advertising it to your target audience.

For guidance, I encourage you to look inside Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing today and check out the free first chapter.

Image credit: Chameleon

Why your business needs a content marketing strategy?

Content marketing is a phenomenon that isn’t going away. If you’re a business to business marketer, using content marketing is a great way of rethinking and re-tasking some of press and sales support material in a way that stimulates inbound inquiry.

Need five reasons why your business needs a content marketing strategy? Here you go.

1. Quality regular content builds trust. There are undeniable SEO benefits of persistently talking about the same topics. But it’s at the human interaction level, rather than technical level, where the benefits of content marketing are most interesting. Talking frequently and in  detail about particular topics creates credibility which leads to you being trusted. Trust is the first step on the path to transaction.

2. Companies need to use people to tell stories that resonate. People do business with people they trust and like. Shared and personal experiences can underpin relationships and can be effectively used to build engagement. Advertising in the 1960’s looked to profile particular people and sell them solutions to their problems and this has largely remained the same in marketing today.

3. Broadcast PR is dead. All communication needs to be two-way. It’s not enough to tell all the time, you need to listen, react and respond. Social has spread right through all facets of modern business and modern marketing. In CRM, companies like Salesforce.com have bought into social media with outfits like Radian6, whilst the latest version of Google throws back recommendations from your contacts in amongst your search results.

4. The web finds liars out, quickly. Social media has balanced the playing field and created an outlet for disaffected customers. Whilst great viral commentary can make a business, one bad experience can destroy it as let-down customers realise they are not alone. Best to be open and transparent from the start.

5. Content converts. Most business to business products and services are conceived to solve a problem for a particular type of customer. Addressing the problems and offering ways to solve them, minimise their impact and disruption and actually remove them from the equation is a powerful way to drive trust and transaction. In B2B, there isn’t a transaction as such, but white papers, downloadable content and subscriptions emails are great ways to obtain data which can be followed up later.

 

B2B content marketing trends

The search for greater clarity and return from our marketing means we have to constantly strive to predict the evolving needs of customers. Knowing what causes customers distress and what makes them happy is criticial.

To aid us in our quest, Holger Schulze has put together some interesting data from surveys of his b2b technology marketers community. With insights into the rationale, the challenges, the formats and the channels, this is worth looking at it if you are looking to generate incoming leads through inbound marketing techniques.


Look out for some surprises in relation to the most used / popular formats and how companies choose to position their content – it might inform and even re-direct some of your activity.

It’s another example of a great Slideshare in action. Quick to browse, usable free information collated by experts, if you haven’t tried it yet, check out my fledgling efforts here. Sign up as there will be more following soon.

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