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How To Get Started With B2B Content Marketing

By getting started with B2B content marketing, companies can more cost effectively increase awareness, preference and volume of qualified leads in a way that their prospects will actually like.

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In the last ten years, the way people buy has changed dramatically. And that change has lead to a revolution in marketing.

Previously when a buyer was researching a purchase, their information sources were limited. Early in their purchase research, a buyer had to contact the seller to get information about the product. Once that contact was made, the seller could exert some influence and control over the buyer.

Now, however, buyers can perform extensive purchase research on the Internet before having any contact with the seller. In fact, SiriusDesision research has found that “over two-thirds of the buying process occurs before sales is even contacted.”

The buyer is now less dependent on the seller for product information. And, because of technology, buyers can more easily filter out marketing messages they don’t want to receive.

With the buyer now more firmly in control that ever before, companies are beginning to realize the best way they can influence the sale is to be helpful to the buyer. And the way they are doing that is with content marketing. From the seller’s perspective, content marketing helps pull a prospect down the sales funnel rather than push them.

Content marketing tactics include eBooks, buyer guides, webinars, whitepapers, blogs, videos and more.

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However, with so much change and new ways to market effectively, many companies have yet to make the shift to content marketing. As with anything new, one of the reasons companies don't make a change is because they don't know how to get started.

In an eBook from Kapost, the emergence of content marketing is outlined, along with tips and worksheets to help get you started on a building a smart content marketing effort.

Additionally, the eBook includes a side-by-side comparison (in cartoon form) of how to do content marketing right vs. how to fail miserably at it. This graphic approach to content marketing can be a fun and effective way to introduce content marketing to your company.

The ebook covers seven critical content marketing best practices:

  1. Add Muscle to Your TeamEstablish a content marketing team. Assign internal and external roles responsible for planning and executing the strategy.
  2. Join Forces to Generate Ideas – One of the most important things is to research your buyers pain points. Business development, sales and customer service people are some of the best places to get this information. Interview your customers, too.
  3. Capture Their Attention – You can’t bore your prospects into buying from you. They don’t care about you and your products as much as you do. Your content needs to be newsworthy, educational or entertaining.
  4. Organize Your Plan of Attack – When starting out a content marketing effort, don’t treat anything as a one-off effort. All content marketing efforts need to be a repeatable, scalable process.
  5. Distribute Your Message – There are a variety of ways to distribute your content. This is where social media can really shine. As social media expert Jay Baer says, “Content is fire, social media is gasoline.”
  6. Pull Them Through The Funnel – Once you have your buyers in your marketing automation system, map out the types of content they need and when they need it.
  7. Learn From Successes and Failures – There will be both. Content marketing is an iterative process where, based on the marketing metrics that you monitor, you’ll want to make adjustments and do more of what’s working, and less of what’s not working.

But what makes this ebook so helpful in getting started is the series of 13 content marketing worksheets to "organize your plan of attack:"

  1. Sweet Spot - This explores your customers' main concerns and your company's main points of value and expertise. The intersection of the two becomes your "sweet spot" for content development.
  2. Persona - Helps with the determination of your ideal buyer(s) and their challenges, hopes, dreams and aspirations.
  3. Buying Stages - Guides you in articulating the different stages through which your buyer travels before purchasing.
  4. Issues - In grid form, here you merge the buying stages with the buyer personas (in #2-3 above).
  5. Topics - Within the same grid, list what topics and themes would respond to the concerns and questions or your persona(s) at the different buying stages.
  6. Team - This is where roles and responsibilities get assigned, both internally and externally.
  7. Ideas - This outlines where you will get your content ideas from and who will get them (e.g. sales, customer support, social listening, customers, etc.).
  8. Content Types - Here you list what your major content formats will be (e.g. blog post, video, eBook, brochure, eNewsletter, etc.) as well as the inputs and approvals necessary for each.
  9. Annual Calendar - The next step is plotting the topics you've assembled on to an editorial calendar so you can plan what content you'll write when.
  10. Monthly Calendar - Gets even further down to brass tacks and includes details such as theme, content type, persona, author, etc. This will be the backbone of your content operation.
  11. Influencers - A chart to organize and rank the key influencers in your content area. They own the places on the web where your prospects hang out.
  12. SEO Keywords - These are the keywords that your prospects will be searching for that are tied back to your sweet spots (#1 above). Each piece of content should be targeted at one or more keywords.
  13. Nurturing Campaigns - Once your site visitors have become leads, plot out the content you will deliver to them via lead nurturing to pull them down the sales funnel.

To  read or download Kapost’s eBook, “Content: The Force That Moves the Buyer Down the Funnel,” see their SlideShare presentation below.

Question: What content marketing challenges are you facing? Please post your comments below. And if you know someone who will find this article helpful, please share it with them (you can use the social media sharing buttons below).

photo credit: tableatny via photopin cc
Douglas Burdett
Douglas Burdett
The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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