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The Whys and Whens of Content Marketing


According to HubSpot (that, granted, has a stake in the issue), 82% of marketers actively invest in content marketing. What about the rest? Well, only 10% report not using it, while 8% are unsure.

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as "a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately,  to drive profitable customer action."

Knowing what it is, and even investing in it, isn't enough. If content is truly "a strategic marketing approach," then it's helpful to understand what works best and when, mapped to your customer's journey. And, as strategic as that may or should be, it isn't really rocket science. As with any type of marketing, the key is to put yourself in the prospective customer's shoes:

  • What matters to them now?
  • What are you asking them to do?
  • And, how willing — at this point — are they to do what you're asking?

This is particularly true for B2B, which is so often a considered purchase. It's most effective to align the content you're creating and publishing to where they are in the browsing/shopping/buying process.

If they're just getting started (or haven't even started), you need to raise awareness. This is a time to educate (and, if appropriate, entertain) them. Don't ask for too much of a time commitment yet. Effective content marketing tactics might include at-a-glance infographics, listicles, short blog posts, cheat sheets, eBooks, or podcasts on a more general topic.

If they already know there's a need for what you're selling and are ready to consider their options, you can deliver more information about who you are and the benefits they will realize by partnering with you. Case studies are helpful here, as are testimonials, demo videos, webinars, or white papers.

Once they're close to making a purchase decision (and, hopefully, you've made it to their short list of potential vendors), it's time to sell a little harder. Persuade them that your solution is a better choice than those of your competitors. Consider offering graphics that (favorably) compare your product to others, live demos, 1:1 consultations, a free trial, or discount.

And, of course, your relationship doesn't and shouldn't stop at the time of purchase. Maintain and nurture their loyalty (and create opportunities for up- and cross-selling) with value-add content, like a chatbot, emails, newsletters, flawless support, and a rewards program, if appropriate.

Content is king, especially when it's served up just-in-time.

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