Since the advent of the internet and its rise to the status of mainstream utility, the face of marketing has been changed drastically.
Marketers aren’t exactly tearing down their billboards or pulling their commercials off TV just yet. However, there’s no denying that internet marketing is here to stay.
Those who market for a living (or work closely with marketers) have developed new terms associated with internet marketing efforts. Among these new terms is content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is defined as:
“…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.”
They also mention that the ultimate goal is to drive profitable consumer action. What is a content marketing strategy? Why do you need one? How can it be useful in a B2B context, and especially when used by smaller businesses?
What is a content marketing strategy?
Content marketing could be considered the evolution of online advertising. It’s a style of marketing that takes advantage of the connectivity the web gives us.
Content marketing is about planning out content according to research, creating content in various forms, and distributing that content across all available channels.
To define it a different way, content marketing strategy is about providing the right content to the right people. You’re looking for subscribers, leads, and even strangers, with the goal of providing them with helpful content relevant to their needs.
While it is a vast and quickly growing field of marketing, it can be broken down into three categories:
Planning: researching and strategizing ahead
Planning is a massive part of content marketing. Content marketing strategy, in a broad sense, refers to a strategic approach to the entire process, including the aspects mentioned below. Here, strategizing refers to the research process before content creation begins.
Planning could be anything from researching high-ranking keywords to researching what your competitors are doing (or not doing). There are plenty of tools you can use during the creation phase as well as the strategy phase. Consider a tool like Mangools, which helps you find keywords, gather SERP data, and more.
Once you’ve gathered the data you need about your audience, competitors, and industry, you can move on to the process of content creation.
Creation: building a versatile content library
Content marketing, at its core, is about creating and distributing great content. You can’t have a content marketing strategy without mastering the creation process.
When you’re creating content, there are many ways you can go. Content marketers create blogs, news articles, emails, video scripts, search engine ads, PPC ads, white papers, eBooks, and more. Even if you’re working with limited time and resources and are unable to focus on all these types, any of these content marketing examples can be helpful.
Content marketing helps you create content for your site blog, email list, and more. The truth is in the numbers. A report published in 2019 said 58% of marketers admitted they spent more on content creation in 2018 than 2017.
Promotion: circulating and monitoring published content
Once you’ve published your well-researched content, the job isn’t finished. Promotion is also a big task any content marketing manager or team must focus on.
Promoting content could include a number of objectives, such as posting it on social media or sending it out to your email subscribers. Promotion is admittedly something that’s done after planning and creation, but it still offers plenty of benefits for marketers.
A detailed and well-planned approach to content marketing will improve your results. But maybe your customers are businesses. How does content marketing work for B2B marketers?
B2B content marketing: unique challenges, great opportunities
It is fair to say the average consumer is more accustomed to online advertising in all its forms, largely because of how much they’re exposed to it every day. As you would imagine, businesses know even more about it.
They not only consume content, they create it. So, when you’re marketing to businesses, you need to make sure your approach is even more refined. B2B marketers do a lot of their research based on data gathered by their own sales team.
In a B2B atmosphere, you’re often helping your customers help their customers. They’re not just looking for what they want; they’re looking for what their audience will want.
So, if the standard line of thought for marketing is focused on benefits over features, then your marketing would focus on how your client could benefit their customers. More specifically, how your product or service could help them do that. When you’re marketing to businesses, you already know how to think like one. Doing this provides you with an opportunity to take your content even further.
There are also some good fundamentals that carry over from the realm of B2C marketing. For example, you should always focus on what sets your brand apart. Combine that with the previous point, and the emphasis should be on what only you can provide to help your clients reach their own customers better.
Since content marketing is about driving profitable action at every step of the customer’s journey, you’re aiming to help your clients get the answers they need. Your clients likely speak the language of content marketing as well. About 28% of the average marketer’s budget is allocated to content marketing.
B2B content marketing is different, as is any form of marketing when your target demographic is companies rather than individuals. The key is remembering this during all phases of the process.
When you’re strategizing, think about what your clients want, which is to better serve their own customers. When you’re creating content, publish it with the knowledge that your audience is comprised of working professionals. The same goes for when you’re promoting it.
Why digital content marketing helps smaller businesses
Technically, companies were producing and distributing content long before the internet came along. Print media has been around for centuries, and market research has arguably been around for even longer.
For example, imagine you’re working in a small business. Maybe you’re the content marketing manager with a small team under you. Or you could be the only person handling marketing activities. To make matters even more challenging, you could be handling the marketing sector while balancing numerous other responsibilities.
Why is digital content marketing a great option? It’s cost-efficient. You aren’t spending a lot of money on paper, ink, and other physical materials to spread the word about your business. It’s a big plus in itself, but there’s also another benefit closely related to it.
Content marketing generates triple the leads of outbound marketing, while costing about 62% less. When you’re in a small business, making the most of your resources is critical. Content marketing can take you further, and, when you factor in the long-term benefits, it’s even better. These include:
- Domain authority: Well-researched and highly informative content makes your website rank higher in search results and gives you priority in some cases where you wouldn’t have otherwise had it.
- Brand awareness: Content is one of the best ways to build a brand. When you’re marketing yourself to other businesses, the brand image you offer is a big part of why they’ll choose you.
- Lead generation: Once you’ve built your brand and gained online authority, it becomes much easier to find more leads and convert them.
When you’re working in a small business, you aren’t looking for “shortcuts” as much as you’re looking for ways to work more efficiently. Content marketing works very well with guidelines and even templates. It helps you produce content on a regular basis without having to start from scratch each time.
Source: Campaign Monitor
Your approach to marketing may be relevant to the size of your budget and the size of your team. Luckily, content marketing offers flexibility and the potential for exponential gains. Not only can you do a lot with a little, but you can get creative with the options you do have.
Content marketing remains one of the most viable promotional avenues in the digital age. A content marketing strategy is vital for planning and creating the content your audience wants to see.
When you’re creating content for businesses, even working at a smaller business yourself, you still have a lot of potential to see great results. Remember:
- Content marketing is about producing the right content for the right person at the right time
- B2B content marketing should focus on how you can help your clients help their own clients
- Small businesses, especially, can benefit from the cost-efficiency of content marketing
Whether you’re a content marketing manager over a small team or you’re working solo to handle all your company’s marketing endeavors, a content marketing strategy will be beneficial to you.
Need to brush up on the terminology of content marketing? Review the glossary of terms to help kickstart your creation of a viable strategy.