What Your Content is Saying About You
As a B2B marketer, I take content development pretty seriously. After all, it's what allows me to populate our blog and execute on our mutlichannel campaigns. But my love of content goes further than that. In fact, recently I wrote a post about how you can take good content and make it great. The content that you produce as an organization not only helps to deliver new business, but more importantly, it serves to identify your position in the market. Content development, when done correctly, puts a personality to your organization.
Let's be honest for a moment. In most industries that are highly competitive, the difference between specific product and service offerings is probably fairly insignificant. Of course, there are proprietary pieces of technology that may differentiate each vendor from one another, but overall, the distinct value proposition that a B2B company can offer is not a piece of technology. At least in my humble opinion, the value lies in the people. It may sound corny, but our most valuable asset is the group of extremely intelligent experts that I am fortunate enough to work with each and every day. Those people develop the products and services that we offer our clients, so in a way, the two go hand in hand. But for my purposes, building blogs, articles, eBooks, and videos that showcase the exhorbitant expertise of our employees is what gets us new business and strengthens the relationships we have with long-term clients.
Still, I see a lot of organizations offering content that is far too focused on the sales cycle, instead of demonstrating value to the reader in the form of thought leadership. Consider that B2B buyers do not want to be contacted by sales until they are 70% through the sales cycle. That's a fairly powerful figure. Before a lead hits that position, the type of content you deliver them will say a lot about your organization. Here are three things that your content is telling leads about you:
- "Look at this great piece of thought leadership! [Whisper] Hey, there's nothing of value in here, we just want to sell to you. Run now while you have a chance!" The old bait and switch trick doesn't work so well in B2B. If you are using "content" to disguise an outright sales pitch, your potential customers are going to figure out your game.
- "Hey, here is a bunch of free insight and information that you can use free of charge. Please, we don't even want to work with you, we are just going to give you all the secrets you need!" This is going too far in the other direction. Content should demonstrate your potential value to a prospect. It's OK to mention the services that you can provide, as long as you are delivering an asset that can stand alone and be valuable without the marketing-speak.
- "We want to be your partner. Here are some of the ways that we can apply our expertise to your business. Hopefully you find it helpful, and if you would like to continue a conversation, here is how you can connect further with us." Ah, the perfect fit! As I mentioned, it's OK to promote your offering to those consuming your content. That is the expected price of the asset, but only if you are transparent about it.