Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is David Capece – Enjoy!
Digital marketing has enabled brands greater control in sharing information and entertainment with customers, making content marketing an increasingly common marketing vehicle for brands. Indeed, 70% of brands and 77% of agencies used content marketing for advertising purposes in the past year (April 2013 survey by MailOnline).
Content marketing comes in many different flavors, from simple newsletter marketing to sponsored micro-sites on big publisher sites. To make your content marketing initiative strategic, the first step is to start with the marketing objective. Content marketing objectives tend to fall into 2 categories:
1) Brand engagement
- Improve brand perception
- Become a thought leader
- Increase loyalty
- Create passionate brand advocates
2) Demand generation
- Improve SEO and Traffic
- Generate Leads
- Nurture Leads
- Increase Sales / Revenue by entering the consumer’s decision process
The common denominator in content marketing is the creation and sharing of useful content to reinforce brand messaging through thought leadership. The bolded emphasis is mine to reflect the areas where content marketing often falls short, likely because of the content marketing purpose. Historically, content marketing has been focused on email marketing and on the company’s own website (today, this is still the #1 usage of content marketing at 83% of marketers). Of course, websites and newsletters are by their nature intended to sell specific products and services.
As content marketing has evolved, greater emphasis is placed on building an extensive digital footprint that engages customers beyond your own digital assets. Since brand marketers typically have less control over external media, useful content that displays thought leadership takes priority. Be inspired with greater vision, as you take content marketing to the next level. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.”
A recent example of thought leadership content marketing that depends on thought leadership is the Atlantic’s sponsored content section, which has featured the likes of IBM, Shell, Intel, and the Church of Scientology. The Atlantic distinguishes itself with deep analysis on current event topics, often drawing unexpected conclusions. This appeals to leaders and executives who want to think differently. For IBM and the others, this is a targeted opportunity to get its content in front of these readers. To succeed, the brands must take thought leadership to the next level with journalism quality content inclusive of written analysis, infographics, and videos. This approach has been controversial for the Atlantic (see critical blog article); however, the sponsored content persists nearly 9 months later. This example of content marketing works harder at brand engagement over demand generation.
For a blueprint on content marketing for demand generation, we look at Marketo, which is a specialist in demand generation software, and practices what it preaches. As an aside, B2B companies, and in particular B2B technology companies, tend to be the most progressive in content marketing for demand generation.
In the case of Marketo, their efforts are focused on establishing trust with their buyer, thereby reducing the personal risk to the buyer. Their thesis is that content marketing provides the B2B buyer with information that will help make them smarter in making the best decision. They use content marketing throughout the process, starting with lead generation, moving to lead nurturing, and then creating content touch points to generate demand. Marketo uses a portfolio of content that includes articles, white papers, brochures, case studies, product data sheets, resource libraries, presentations, videos, and even more advanced content such as eBooks, podcasts, webinars, workbooks, and online courses.
So what type of content should the B2B content marketer be producing? As with any marketing program, start by thinking like your customer and understanding what is important to them. According to a study by MarketingSherpa:
- 82% of prospects say content targeted to their specific industry is more valuable
- 67% say content targeted to their job function is more valuable
- 49% say content targeted to their company size is more valuable
Content distribution is equally as important as content creation. For content distribution, use a combination of email, social media, SEO, PPC, content syndication, trade shows, sales reps, PR, and partners. For a deeper look at constructing a B2B content marketing plan, see this pdf by Marketo that includes a worksheet for customizing content based on your prospect’s place in the buying cycle.
A robust content marketing strategy is greater than the sum of its parts. As you seek to build a content marketing plan that is poised for success, influence, and leadership, I leave you with this closing quote of inspiration from Peter Drucker. “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”
David Capece is Founder and CEO of Sparxoo, a Tampa-based advertising agency specializing in branding, digital, and integrated marketing. Previously, David was brand strategist at Interbrand New York and Senior Director of Marketing for ESPN. David has an MBA from Wharton Business School, a BA from Johns Hopkins University, and is an Adjunct Professor in Marketing at University of Tampa.