“Content marketing” is one of the most important, yet overused, B2B marketing terms in the last 5–7 years.
On one hand, it is a term that has been so overused that it is almost meaningless. It isn’t difficult to find stories about hundreds of influencers who have little practical experience yet seem to keep their calendars filled with consulting gigs and panels where they say profound things like “be customer-centric” or “tell a good story.”
On the other hand, the very fact that content marketing is in vogue and surging in terms of popularity over the last few years speaks to the reality that marketing needed (and needs) to evolve. Years of spam, impersonal mass distribution and mass media lacked authenticity and connection. The power always resides with the customer. Content marketing done well is creating narratives and experiences that connect with people where they are—the tried and true adage of “right person, right place and right time.”
Vulnerable (and Alone)
Often, however, what we observe is what resembles the first generation of content marketing. The gold rush to editorial calendars, newsrooms and rich media ushered in a renaissance of improved and even great content and assets. Storytellers, journalists and wickedly smart, rich content are sought after and considered integral to most B2B campaigns. Yet, the rush to content marketing has often caused B2B organizations and their agencies to over-rotate on content quality and to get excited about that aspect without thinking about content as a part of a conversation supported by insights, technology, data, media, etc.
Great content that’s been vetted, tested and creatively delivered can be left vulnerable and at times be judged unsuccessful if it’s asked to do all the work. Before your customers dive into your titillating article/Tumblr/video/cinemagraph, they must be 1) able to find it and 2) convinced that they should give that content their time that might otherwise be used on valuable activities, like watching that video where the baby panda sneezes.
Enter Team Content
Great content requires a team of sorts—a team where each player has a position and a role to play.
They include (but aren’t limited to):
- Form factor
Each of these works in support of content’s success. Each should be measured to help inform how marketing teams can adjust these dials to test, observe and see when and where the content performs best—to see where in the buyer’s journey it resonates most and to see how rich media and assets can be adjusted to better engage and drive demand.
In practice, this means your CTA, your page design, your SEO and your promotional channels are just as important as the quality of your content. Take CTAs, for example. If you can’t convince your customers to click on your content, then you have already lost. BuzzFeed boasts that it spends longer on writing its titles than it does on the actual articles. That’s second-generation content marketing. Or look at UX; if your customers land on a page but don’t realize there are incredible things waiting for them below the fold, they won’t ever get there.
All those dollars spent on creating “The. Best. Video. Ever.” will go to waste if Marketing does not stop to first consider whether users can find the video and will be sufficiently enticed to give it their time. Forget the 10-second, three-second or whichever second version you have heard to grab your customer’s attention; the battle is getting them there first.