Print Posted 07/05/2017

The Panacea for Content Marketing Is Collaborative Marketing

By: Robert Hennessey

The Panacea for Content Marketing Is Collaborative Marketing

The truth of content marketing is you cannot market today without it but marketing with it is extremely challenging and frustrating, but there is an answer. To unravel the conundrum that is content marketing, we must first examine the difficult and frustrating elements that are likely driving you crazy.

The Conundrum that Is Content Marketing

Are you generating 16+blog posts a month or over 200 per year? This level of blogging is almost the equivalent of writing and posting a blog every business day.

Could you generate this many quality and relevant blog posts? If you could not create these blog posts yourself, what would 200 blog posts cost to outsource to produce, $8,000, $12,000 or $16,000 per year or more?

The reality is you need to be blogging a lot, and if you are not, you could be seriously missing out on the benefits of blogging in the first place says a HubSpot benchmark data study.

“For our customer base, we found that an increased blog post publishing frequency correlated with more leads generated. Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published between 0 - 4 monthly posts.”

“For our customer base, we found that the more total blog posts companies published, the more leads they generated. Companies that published 401+ total blog posts got over 3X more leads than companies that published between 0 - 100 total blog posts.” 

 

How Often Should Companies Blog? [New Benchmark Data] April 9, 2015, Written by Lindsay Kolowich| @lkolow

Note: While this data may seem significant, even if you generate 401 plus blogs and can afford the time, money, or both to do so, these “leads” are simple name captures and email addresses. These are not B.A.N.T. quality leads. This fact makes an effort required to generate these leads dispiriting due to the lead generation quality, cost and effort required. There will be a need for more lead nurturing cost and effort to turn a small portion of these “leads” into actionable leads. 

So given this data, why don’t more companies blog more than 1 to 4 times per month? 

Most say they do not have the human resources, money or time to research, write and plan all the details necessary for creating quality blogs more frequently. Moreover, blog quantity is not sufficient to achieve lead generation success your blogs must be well written and most importantly relevant to your target audience. 

The conclusion one should draw from this data while empirical in nature that more is better and even more is significantly better is misleading. It is only true that more blogs=more leads. It is not true from this data that the quality of these leads is good, to begin with, or gets better the more leads you generate and will result in more sales. 

In fact, we know that if five leads generate a million dollars in sales, it is better than generating 5,000 leads that result in five hundred dollars in sales. Without a performance aspect to the data, one can extrapolate erringly into believing that more blogs = more leads and ipso facto more sales. 

Before deciding that more blogging is the answer and then trying to figure out how you will achieve more blogging. Let us step back a re-examine what the business objective is that we all need to succeed.

The Marketing Objective

I think we can agree that the objective is more sales for your company at an affordable customer acquisition cost. 

There is no doubt that content marketing plays a significant role in helping B2B companies reach their marketing objective. However, we need to step back and examine the application of content marketing to help firms meet their marketing objective. 

Content Marketing Options

Online blogging was one of the first methods by which content marketing was employed and so has garnered the most attention and scrutiny as evidenced by the study referenced above. However, we know that content marketing manifests itself in today's marketplace in many forms beyond blogs. 

Application Stories, Case Studies, Product/Service Profiles, Press Releases, non-blog Articles and White Papers are all forms of alternative content marketing. Now we can add videos, podcasts and e-books or guides to this list. In fact, B2B professionals consistently rate White Papers as the most preferred form of content marketing. 

What do all these types of content marketing have in common that make them appealing to your target audience and primarily White Papers? The answer is content that is relevant and valuable to the reader. Content that has relevant, useful information to a reader is valuable to that reader. Blogs that fit this criterion are also valuable; unfortunately, many blog articles fall short of delivering relevant and useful content. 

Best B2B Content Marketing Content

Using stories from your existing customers about how they were able to solve a business problem with the help of your products or services is the best form of content marketing. These problem/solution stories are both relevant and valuable to others like your existing customers that you are trying to engage. Plus, you can modify the content to fit various content marketing types and develop multiple pieces of content from just one story. 

You do not need hundreds of pieces of content you need relevant and valuable content that you can produce from five existing customers and turn it into 20 or 25 pieces of content in various forms to appeal to all types of people that prefer to consume their information via auditory, visual or verbal formats. 

This is how you solve a large part of the content marketing challenge to avoid having to produce hundreds and yes thousands of pieces of content. Present your best most relevant stories to the same type of customers you are trying to sell in as many content iterations that will appeal to your audience. 

Remember content marketing has two parts, content creation, and content distribution. Both are equally critical to content marketing success. Now let us turn to discussing the distribution options to get your content found by your target audience.  

How Will My Content Get Found?

We have established that relevant, useful content is what your B2B buyers want and are searching for on the Internet. Understanding content marketing and the buying cycle in the age of the Internet is critical to how the prospects you want will find you.

The first step in the buying cycle is Need. Your customers have business problems that they are seeking solutions for all the time.

Awareness is the second step, and it is important for buyers and sellers. Buyers may not know a solution exists to their problem and who has the right solution for them. Sellers must make Buyers aware that 1) they exist and 2) they have a solution to the Buyer's problem. We will discuss number one in a minute number two is making sure you have produced the type of content marketing we discussed in the last section Content Marketing Options.

Research is step three, and this has changed dramatically in the age of the Internet. It used to be that Sellers would contact B2B Buyers and tell them about their products or services. Now with the Internet Buyers are researching solutions to their problems before they let Sellers know they are in the market to buy.

Historically having been harassed, targeted and hassled, Buyers now use Self-Directed Marketing to find their business solutions before ever contacting or accepting contact from a Seller. The facts are overwhelming.

  • 70% of the buying process is now complete by the time a prospective buyer is ready to engage with sales. (SiriusDecisions)

  • Today's buyer is anywhere from 66% to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to a vendor! (Forrester Research - Lori Wizdo)

  • 90% of business buyers say when they're ready to buy, they'll find you. (DemandGen Report)

Evaluating options is the fourth step. Armed with lots of information regarding how to solve their business problem Buyers now begin to compare and contrast the data from their research to narrow down possible Sellers to contact.

If you are a Seller and your business solution content is not readily available for B2B Buyers to find you are not even in the game. If your content is only available on your website and you are not the market leader in your industry, or in the Global FORTUNE® 100, or you lock your content behind paywalls or forms that require Buyers to give up their privacy to obtain your content you will likely be left out.

Sellers must be able to access your solutions easily and without jumping through any hoops because they are not going to do it. There are just too many options for the Buyer today. I know everyone has told you to collect emails, so you can harass and annoy your prospects. Is this what you think will endear you to potential clients?

The last step in the buying cycle is Purchase. If Sellers fail to address the first four steps, there is no purchase.

So what are your options with this daunting challenge of getting your content marketing into the hands of your target customers before they move into the Evaluation phase of the Buying Cycle?

Options for Getting Content Found

There are many options to getting your content found on the Internet. Similar to blogging most of your options to getting your content found are expensive and time-consuming with no guarantee of success.

Here are some you may have already used or considered.

  • Company Website/Blog 
  • Industry Associations 
  • Google Ads 
  • Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Google+) 
  • Email 
  • Trade Advertising 
  • Trade Shows 
  • Online Advertising 
  • Direct Marketing

Depending on the size of your marketing budget some of these distribution platforms for your content marketing may be appropriate for your business or are returning some value for your investment.

However, it is important to note that most of these platforms are not Buyer-centric. B2B Buyers will seek out platforms where they can be anonymous and where relevant, useful content is available. Buyers are not looking for ads or content that is pitching a product or service to them no matter how cleverly done or disguised.

The Collaborative Marketing Alternative

Besides the options above, a collaborative B2B marketing platform containing relevant, useful content with a structure that nurtures B2B Buyers by not having any ads, requiring registration, or trading private information for content is a natural destination for B2B Buyers.

In a collaborative environment as described, Sellers benefit also.

  • A B2B destination platform built specifically to attract B2B Buyers
  • An opportunity to showcase your business solution content during the Buyer research phase in the buying cycle before they decide
  • Aggregating B2B content from many Sellers eliminates the cost of traffic building on the Web reducing your customer acquisition cost & increasing MROI.
  • Being on an authority website builds brand identity at no additional cost

Gain new customers from collaboration partnerships you make

  • Develop unique or collaborative products/services that are not available from competitors
  • Collaborate with other Sellers whose customer service or marketing expertise compliments your strengths and their weaknesses and vice versa

By taking advantage of a collaborative platform that is Buyer friendly, you are positioning your content for B2B Buyers to find it when they come to find business solutions. The collaborative platform makes easy and convenient for Buyers.

Sellers, benefit from participating at a venue that attracts their target audience affordably and in an efficient way that is not possible by a single company. Collaboration creates a mutually beneficial business arrangement that makes all the collaborating partners more successful.

The Internet and now social media continues to expand interaction and collaborative marketing opportunities. Moreover, buyer behaviors and needs will continue to change that is certain. Buyer and seller collaboration will also likely begin to increase.

Takeaway

Content Marketing based on existing client profiles of problem/solution content distributed using collaborative marketing is one viable solution to the content marketing Conundrum. It is a better way to maximize content marketing serving customer needs and your own as an affordable and efficient option for a business that that wants to expand and grow using the Internet.

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