It’s certainly getting a lot of buzz, but exactly what is content marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is the strategic marketing approach of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
What does that mean on the ground? Simply that content marketing can come in many forms – webinars, white papers, thought leadership, blogs, articles, videos, etc – anything that conveys information to the buyer in a way that will be helpful to them as they make their decisions.
In other words: content marketing is not about pitching your products and services. It is about delivering information your buyer can use to make intelligent buying decisions. At the heart of this strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they will ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
People will offer all sorts of reasons why marketing in this way matters. They’ll tell you that it’s a great way to generate new leads. That it’s good for branding. That i will help you build credibility. All of these things are true, but at a more fundamental level, content marketing is important because today’s buyers are more self-directed than they’ve ever been. Thank you Internet.
According to Forrester Research, buyers do not reach out to vendors until they are between 65% and 90% through the decision making process. That means that in more than two-thirds of cases, B2B customers are making decisions when the company they are deciding about isn’t even aware they are looking.
In many ways, businesses are taking a page from individual consumers. Think about how you buy a computer. You don’t walk into an electronics store and ask the salesperson to pitch. You go online and read reviews. You visit websites. You watch videos. You talk to your friends on Facebook and LinkedIn. By the time you get to the store the only reason you need the salesperson is to point you to the right aisle (if you don’t buy online). Most B2B buyers operate in the same way. They enter a sales cycle much later armed with much more information and closer to a decision.
Content marketing enables you to put the information out there that will help guide a buyer through their buying journey with the hope that that journey eventually leads to them to buy from you.
A few key stats: Content marketing is everywhere and continues to grow. According to the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Report by CMI, 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing and 73% of content marketers are producing more content than they did a year ago. Who is using content marketing: Every aspect of B2B.
What are you waiting for?