Despite our keen interest in the role of content in all types of B2B marketing, we at SiriusDecisions (myself included) tend to lean away from the term “content marketing.” To me, the term is redundant and a little jargon-y. Content is the product created by marketers, and the act of marketing is about bringing great content to market for our target audiences.
There is no marketing without content, and most bad marketing is a result of bad content. Both are usually a result of a lack of insight into buyer needs and interests.
Despite some minor differences in terminology, I think we share this philosophy with the hosts, sponsors and attendees of this week’s Content Marketing World conference, which is currently underway in Cleveland.
Here are my top five insights and takeaways from the first day of the event:
1. For a large B2B company, transforming from a product content machine to an audience content machine takes about two years and requires executive buy-in and strong change management. It’s not just about implementing a content strategy.
2. Today, B2B organizations tend to go to market through their own functional siloes and business units, and market and message to a single monolithic external “audience.” This paradigm must be flipped on its head. Successful marketing relies on an audience-centric go-to-market architecture and a single brand voice with differentiated narratives to speak to those audiences.
3. Customer marketing content and narrative should drive and inform prospect lead generation efforts. Your customers represent the possibilities for the future for your prospects. Customer marketing and prospect marketing should not happen in siloes – they are two sides of the same coin, and each should inform the other. Most organizations try to repurpose their prospect content for customers when, in reality, they can derive greater value by repurposing customer content for prospects.
4. Publishers, brand PR and advertising are colliding within forms such as sponsored content, and the rules aren’t entirely clear yet. An organization’s best bet for investing in this new type of media is to identify the topics on which the brand (and its subject matter experts) can act as an authority, find the publications that share a target audience, and create a brand voice that is authentic and credible. Authority, audience and authenticity are the three A’s that guide successful investment in branded publishing.
5. B2B and B2C are really not the same. It’s not “all just person-to-person.” Sure, at a tactical level, B2B marketers need to think more about their buyers as actual people and understand their challenges and initiatives, but most B2B companies market and sell complex solutions to other companies through a long, complex and group-oriented decisionmaking process. This means that a group of marketing, sales, and product people is trying to connect its offering to the needs of a potential buying center (composed of users, influencers, C-level execs, etc.). At Content Marketing World, participation in the general-interest track sessions has been dominated by B2C marketing narratives and examples, reinforcing this belief that B2B and B2C are “the same.” We’re a long way from a world where an enterprise can generate revenue through an isolated person-to-person model, and investing in flimsy tactical marketing under this delusion is a waste of money for many B2B organizations.