If your content marketing isn’t bringing in a return, then it’s time to start thinking of your marketing department as a B2B “MediaGroup.”
No, we’re not saying it’s a good idea to form your own media conglomerate, per se. But every brand that engages in content marketing is, in essence, self-publishing its own multi-media marketing campaign. So in order to make the most from your content marketing, it pays to start thinking of your marketing department as its own small “mediagroup.”
A Few Reasons Why Your Content Marketing Isn’t Working
You don’t know what content marketing is. A lot of businesses do content marketing because they feel they should, but they don’t exactly know why. Perhaps this is because content marketing is such a new term. It only came into popularity a few years ago.
However, like the rest of the internet, it has changed the way we do marketing. A very, very brief definition: content marketing refers to the creation of valuable, relevant content that helps acquire and retain new customers.
Your content marketing doesn’t have a direct connection to sales. Of course, not knowing what content marketing is or how to use it, it can be pretty difficult to make a link to the bottom line. Content marketing should add value to the end user through media publications – either online or off – but there should always be a clear, actionable pathway back towards the sale.
You aren’t seeing a return. This is a Catch-22. If you don’t know what you’re doing or why you are doing it, you won’t do a good job, and you won’t see a return.
The right people aren’t on the job. Businesses that do content marketing because everybody else is telling them to often re-allocate internal resources to do the job…without adequate preparation. These staff aren’t always creative, they aren’t always trained properly, and they don’t always understand the marketing goals that are driving the program.
Why You Should Establish Your Own B2B Content Marketing Plan
In order to clarify the point, we’ll use an analogy.
Think of the internet as a networking event or a trade conference, replete with booths, a main stage, presentations, and the like. A marketing plan, then, is simply your team’s strategy to get involved with other participants and promote your products to potential customers and potential partners.
Using this as an analogy, let’s see how content marketing and the internet would compare:
Your booth is your website. Here, you have marketing material ready and waiting, such as brochures, demonstrations, and business cards. A website serves the same function and waits to capture inbound traffic and steer them to the appropriate B2B publications, or “content.”
Your sales staff perform social networking. Your sales person or people do the mingling, in the same way that your sales staff connect with customers online and direct them back to your website or other content.
Presentations equal YouTube. YouTube videos and other high-cost multimedia projects are like speeches and presentations. You put a lot of time, money, and resources into crafting elaborate sales pitches that are designed to acquire and retain customers – just like content marketing.
A Few Essentials for an Effective Content Marketing Plan
Here are just a few essential practices for earning a return on your content marketing plan:
Get training or outsource. Content marketing isn’t just a matter of assigning your admin to write blog posts and handle the Facebook page. Your entire marketing team should be involved. The more reading you do and seminars you attend, the more prepared you’ll be to keep up with the constantly evolving marketing industry.
Create content that adds value and builds your authority. Getting search engines’ attention is only part of the function of content marketing. Your media campaign should offer useful, actionable advice to your customers, provide real-world solutions, and promote your products.
Design a pathway to the sale. Always include marketing and sales best practices that offer a clear pathway to your products and services. While bait-and-switch articles (such as ads deceptively masquerading as informative articles) can erode your credibility, there is no harm in including promotions, hard-sells, and blatant product promotions alongside or within your content.
Design for long-term engagement. Unfortunately, content marketing is usually a new departmental function, which means that creating and publishing an ongoing, engaging stream of media is also new. But it’s often not too difficult to find the right creative staff who are willing and able to develop content that engages your audience, builds your authority, and competes with other industry players.
Effective content marketing isn’t rocket science, but you do need to commit the right resources. Usually, this means hiring or training staff who can create compelling content that and will keep them informed, entertained, and engaged – because the more engaged they are, the more likely they are to become long-term customers.