Content marketing is indisputably hot. Over the last few months, I’ve presented to a wide variety of groups about content marketing — Content Marketing World attendees, marketing directors, Salesforce.com users, and college students, to name a few. In all of these sessions, one thing stands out: We’re finally turning the corner on the way marketers approach content marketing. As opposed to treating it like just another tactic, most people now recognize that content marketing represents an approach that touches every facet of marketing.
While this may seem intuitive, I’ve been predicting (and waiting for) this shift in mindset for a couple of years now, and am glad to see it take root. What is still less widely acknowledged, and what is the focus of our webinar this Wednesday, is that content marketing is a key driver of demand generation. As such, it plays a vital role in your 2014 demand generation plan.
Want to find out more about how modern marketing, content, and demand generation work together? Sign up for our webinar, “Using Content Marketing to Fuel Your Demand Generation Engine,” on Wed., Dec. 11 from 2 to 3 p.m. EST.
Why? The ultimate goal of demand generation may be revenue, but the aim of the content side of your demand generation plan should be to educate, inform, entertain, and inspire. When this happens, your content fuels brand awareness, which fuels interest in your B2B or B2C services, which fuels acquisition and retention, and so on. You get my point. Content drives sales, but only when executed well and guided by strategy.
What does this mean for modern marketers? With this shift to a more holistic, data-driven approach, the modern marketer and modern marketing department have to adjust. Marketers are no longer responsible for just brand building, making sure the trade show booth looks good, and generating the occasional lead, but for the following activities:
- Brand building (this doesn’t go away).
- Making buyers aware that they have a problem they may not know they have. For example, my current provider doesn’t do X, Y, and Z for me but should, or maybe I never knew I even needed a service that does A, B, and C until I read this remarkable content.
- Educating buyers on what that problem actually is, and why it warrants taking action to remedy.
- Making buyers aware of a better solution that your company just happens to provide.
- Generating and qualifying leads for sales readiness either manually or, more frequently, with the assistance of automation tools and lead scoring systems.
- Segmenting leads based on perceived interest, intent, and sales-readiness.
- Nurturing leads until they are sales ready.
- Delivering more qualified leads to sales. (Even if there are fewer total leads touched by sales, those leads they do touch are more ready to buy and likely to close.)
- Nurturing leads that have not yet bought from sales.
- Nurturing leads that have bought, whether through cross-sell, upsell, retain, and/or buy again.
What do these areas have in common? You can’t do any of them without content — content targeted to your buyers, content targeted to your customers, and content that’s not just about your brand.
Does your marketing plan address that? If not, you’ve got some work to do. As the numbers bear out in the latest report by the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing starts with (and relies on) a solid strategy. Consider: Eighty-four percent of marketers who say they are ineffective at content marketing report having no documented strategy. B2B marketers who have a documented content strategy are far more likely to consider themselves effective (66 percent vs. 11 percent).
Modern marketing is complex, and content is an essential cog in your demand generation and sales wheel. Today’s buyers expect and make decisions based on the content you put out. Nail your content marketing strategy, keep your finger on the pulse (i.e., the data) of your interactions, and fine-tune it as needed. Learn more in our webinar, “Using Content Marketing to Fuel Your Demand Generation Engine.”
Need help with your content marketing plan? Contact us to see if we might be able to help you.