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Michael Brenner is senior director of global marketing for SAP. He is also author of the B2B Marketing Insider blog and cofounder of social news site Business 2 Community. Michael is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 97 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

The 2014 Content Marketing Imperative

12.07.2013
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We’ve heard it time and time again: according to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) almost 60% of the buyer journey is complete before prospects reach out to vendors.

And according to Harvard Business Review, “Solution Selling is Dead” because talking about our products and our solutions is no longer good enough. It may even hurt us in the buying process.

Why? Because our buyers are too smart. They see right through these self-serving tactics. They are looking for brands that put buyers first.

They are looking for brands that know how to connect on a human and emotional scale. In fact, the Corporate Executive Board’s latest report shows that “emotion beats promotion” by a factor of 2 to 1.

  • 78% of CMOs think content is the future of marketing  (Demand Metric)
  • 60-70% of B2B marketing content goes unused (Sirius Decisions)
  • Only 10-20% of a company’s website content drives 90% of its Web traffic, and only 0.5% of a website’s content drives more than 50% of its traffic. (InboundWriter)

So what do we do know? The answer is easy: content marketing.

Content marketing is the process of creating content that our customers actually want or need.

Content marketing meets the needs of your buyers across ALL phases of the buying cycle:

  1. There is the largest number of potential buyers in the early stages. So there should be more focus on early stage content to drive interest and awareness.
  2. There are more potential buyers in the middle of the buying process than in the latest stages. So there should be more focus on engagement than on the latter stages of the buying process where potential buyers are looking to understand what we sell and for how much.
  3. Late stage content is still needed. It’s really a question of whether resources are aligned to the buying process.

Content marketing is how you attract buyers instead of paying to reach them. It is more effective. It is aligned with buyer needs. But it also may seem counter-intuitive. (“We are here to sell stuff, right?”)

Content marketing is a mindset that starts with the question “what do our buyers want or need?” It then cycles through the process of analyzing keywords (what people search for) and social trends, finding the research, experts, tips and tricks that answer those questions. And then process starts all over again when you analyze what works and use those insights to drive continuous improvement in the next round of content creation.

Content Marketing is an equal portion of creation, curation and syndication.

  • You can’t have all the answers. And likely won’t have enough funds to create all the content you need. But the unique insights and point of view you do have should be the focus of content creation.
  • Curation is the art and science of finding the experts, insights and research from others. It is a much more strategic function than most people think and it is not just about licensing content. Effective content curation will allow you to add your perspective and to package the content for your buyers. It allows us to cover other people’s content like a journalist covers the news.
  • And finally content syndication (or distribution) is just as important so we can get all the great content we create and curate and expose it to a larger audiences.

Don’t believe me? According to BtoB Magazine “Content Marketing” is one of the top priorities for marketing in 2014. Content marketing was listed as the top priority by the Altimeter Group (slide 24) and also listed #1 here and here, and as the source of the biggest budget increases here.

Take a look at the number of  “Content Marketing” searches per month on Google. It was flat for years. And then in January 2011, a sharp increase began that shows content marketing is now 5 times more important to brands than ever before.

Content Marketing Search Engine Growth

And if you are still skeptical, here’s more statistics for you data geeks out there (like me):

So what do you think? Will you make 2014 the year of content marketing at your company?

Original post

Published at DZone with permission of Michael Brenner, author and DZone MVB.

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