At this moment, you have more knowledge at your fingertips than have filled whole libraries in the past. Content is everywhere and in every form, from long-form think pieces in prestigious magazines to videos showcasing the latest herbal tea.
Your leads are swimming in content too. Marketing researchers estimate that B2B leads have traversed 50 percent of their buying journey before they even appear on the sales team’s radar, and it’s largely because of this steady stream of information. You have smart customers; they educate themselves, do their research, seek reviews, and draw conclusions on their own. The only way you have a voice in that process is if you supply content too – but not just any content.
How do you provide something different? That’s the only way to rise above the noise level of your competition.
Why Should They Care?
Before you publish a blog post, send out a newsletter, or tweet a link, ask yourself the question your competitors probably don’t: “Why do my leads or customers care about this?” While they’re thinking in terms of SEO space fillers and soft content to wrap around back-links, you’re thinking about the people who matter most to you. You’re valuing their time and effort by giving them information they can use right away. They don’t need another article that has almost the same content as hundreds of other B2B blog posts or an e-newsletter that’s just a wordier form of advertising. They need your insights, your genuinely useful tips, your engaging writing – something that sets you apart from the pack.
Deliver something worth their time, and you’ve given them a reason to pay attention.
Scope out the Competition
Do you know what your nearest competitors are doing with their content marketing strategies? Knowing what they publish, how often they publish, how well it succeeds on social media, and which keywords they’re targeting is essential to out-competing them. Knowing this information, you’re able to capitalize on their mistakes and do an end-run around their greatest strengths. Look for the holes in their coverage, the areas in which they’re lagging behind. If they publish once every two months, you publish monthly. If their blog posts are terse and ad-heavy, make yours expansive and conversational.
When you see what your competition’s doing, you’re able to provide what they don’t.
Know Your Audience
Content isn’t just a free-form expression of creative genius (well, it can be, but inspiration doesn’t always strike weekly just in time for two blog posts and an email). It’s held together at the back with a complex array of data – data that tells you about audience segments and what you can say to be relevant to each of them. If you’re selling widgets, you wouldn’t sell them the same way to restaurateurs, healthcare providers, and IT directors. It’s not only your advertising but your content that needs to change to be compelling to the professionals in your audience. You might order content for the restaurant industry that details how your widget fits into food safety protocols. For healthcare buyers, you could address how it’s streamlined patient admissions. IT directors might want to know more about how it maintains data security.
One widget, three audiences, greater relevance – data makes it happen.
Would They Miss You?
Here’s another test of your content marketing strategy’s strength: If everything you’ve produced were to disappear from the digital universe tomorrow, would anyone miss it? If you’ve been diligent about writing informative blog posts, providing useful white papers, and sending meaningful newsletters to the right audiences, that’s a definite yes. If you’re not so sure, it’s time to rethink your content strategy.