Content Marketing. Nearly everybody is keen to share opinions and infographics on this relatively young discipline. To 90% of all marketeers content is increasingly important within the marketing discipline. Ironically less than 40% of all marketing managers have drafted a content marketing strategy, according to a recent econsultancy survey.

The elusive customer
Not only are customers in most B2B markets better informed, they increasingly behave independently. In B2B (too) customers prefer to self-inform, self-assess and self-select. Be warned account managers, sales directors and other representatives of the Sales-discipline, you’re bound to have a hard time. Only until later in the buying process do you (when given the chance) get an opportunity to personally meet the prospect. Meeting the prospect isn’t just about making polite conversation over a cup of corporate coffee. Sales people will have to show they’re better informed, well-equipped to truly help the prospect further in coming to a well-rounded decision. How does one get some hold of the elusive customer?

The Content Marketing Mix [INFOGRAPHIC] - Pardot Infographic

What is content?
Amongst marketing professionals too there is regular debate what the definition of content is. Strictly speaking content can appear in various shapes and forms: in written webtexts, customer cases, surveys, whitepapers to pictures and other illustration material like video. Content that gets found – online – by the intended audience by means of a number of keywords or ‘tags’ and ideally through the use of richer content. Thanks to this content being actively shared and disseminated via social media it will subsequently find its way to a wider audience.

Content: DIY?
Content can bridge the gap between company and customer (or prospect). By offering tailormade information one stays digitally in touch with (and on speaking terms with) the prospect. This will help him or her taking a next step in the orientation and selection process.  Offering high quality content that stimulates the prospect’s subconscious buying process therefore is not only very valuable, it also requires careful planning and execution.

A fundamental question I ask marketing directors in this context is: will you guys (continue to) do all of this by yourselves? Content marketing’s effective deployment will take more time from the organisation’s experts than they’re used to. They represent the company as guest speaker, blogger, expert in a forum or community or as interviewee quoted in a whitepaper or other article. It’s imperative not to squander their time unnecessarily. Furthermore, designing, producing, publishing and managing the actual deliverables (blogpost, whitepaper, video, webinar) needs be driven by professionals. That very matter constitutes an opportunity and pitfall: good content has a longer life expectancy than an offline article. Monitoring and managing reach, response, sentiment (and of course leads too!) requires time, commitment, skill and preparation.

Content Marketing mix
The content marketing mix displayed above is an effective step in the proper design of the content mix relevant for the various steps in the buying process. It would be an utter illusion to think these rules of thumb will work always and everywhere. They don’t. An optimal content marketing mix varies per industry and per type of prospect (‘buyer persona’). The underlying logic and breakdown however will be roughly the same. A conscious choice in strategy and approach in your content marketing will help you to more effectively separate qualified leads from unqualified ones, will improve conversion in the sales funnel resulting in more deals won.

How do you ensure to better leverage your opportunities in B2B content marketing? Read this DutchmarQ whitepaper: ‘More revenue, by ‘less marketing’ in B2B?‘.

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