Latest industry views and advice

November 20

B2B marketers feel the pain more than anyone else of getting their content marketing to compete and gain an audience’s attention.

So says Michael Brenner – CEO, Marketing Insider Group – in a recent webinar from MarketingProfs, How Content Marketing is Driving the Future of B2B.

 However, much of the pain he describes is actually self-inflicted: “60-70% of content created goes unused and isn’t getting a chance to engage with the audience and 56% of demand generation campaigns don’t produce measurable demand,” Brenner says.

Marketers, therefore, need to stop wasting budgets on content/campaigns that don’t de­liver value, he advises.

Content marketing that attracts buyers

But what does content look like that does more than leave a digital footprint?

Brenner continues: “It’s natural for companies to want to talk about how great they are, but it’s not what customers are interested in.

“Content marketing is expertise, solutions, ways to solve customer problems which overlap with real marketplace needs. That requires empathy: bridging the gap between the company and customer expectations.”

Having worked in B2B PR and marketing communications for more than 20 years, I’ve seen this challenge in companies time and time again: the temptation (and, indeed, internal pressure) to sell a product or service at every opportunity is often overwhelming. Overtly selling to people was often an adversarial experience; now, it’s even less appealing with the democratisation of information online and the ability of B2B buyers to leap-frog the sales and marketing process.

As Brenner goes on to say: “Empathy is the counterintuitive secret to success in marketing, business and life.”

Investing in content marketing

Content marketing, says Brenner, is an investment which involves “publishing consistently customer-focused content over time” to achieve an “accelerating return on investment on content that increases in value.”

He cites the work of Amanda Todorovich, senior content director at cardiology specialists, Cleveland Clinic. Using the power of empathy, she created a “health essentials hub” online comprising health-related, advisory content which ultimately attracted five million visitors.

Her approach was: “We shouldn’t be saying how awesome we are.” This empathetic method led to the company changing its entire mission statement from “Number one in heart care for 15 years” to “To improve people’s lives whether you could become a patient of ours or not”.

And the content programme didn’t only create visitors, but also revenue.

Building a storytelling team

“How much of your marketing talks through the challenges customers are facing rather than the solution you provide? The journey is fraught before you find the solution – that’s what we ought to do in marketing,” Brenner says.

So, he advocates:

  1. Using the smart people in your organisation to become a team of storytellers who see marketing as a strategic asset.
  2. Asking where is the customer in your org chart? You need to put the customer at the centre of everything you do. And if you don’t know what’s in it for the customer, you need to ask them.
  3. Creating content to: 

Do this by using the keywords your customers use to create the content they want, converting them to sales and retaining the engagement.

Brenner adds: “Create the answers to the questions people are asking in formats they want; become a source of education and inspiration and be the most considered organisation.”

To plan and deliver your company’s B2B storytelling and content, contact us or phone 0161 672 7000.


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