Forrester's report on B2B content marketing concludes that B2B marketers don't focus enough on a buyer's lifetime cycle and need to establish a formal editorial board to advance content marketing programs.
So let's get to work.
CMSWire caught up with Laura Ramos, the author of the Forrester report, "Compare Your B2B Content Marketing Maturity," for a Q&A on the topic.
Content Marketing Q&A
CMSWire: Content is not the No. 1 job of marketers, according to Forrester's report. If B2B marketers are not focusing on the content, what can happen with that content?
Ramos: It’s not so much that something can happen with the content as much as the content fails to hit the mark for engaging prospects and current customers. When we see marketing teams delegate content production to a smaller subset of the team -- or rely too much on agency partners or outside freelancers -- the quality of the content begins to suffer.
Instead, B2B marketers need to invest in knowing their customers better and using tools like buyer personas to help them develop content that puts the buyer in the bull’s eye of the target, not the products and services the firm may offer.
They also need to make content production a part of everyone’s job in marketing, as well as partnering with subject matter experts inside and outside the firm to help generate ideas and content that catch buyers’ interest.
CMSWire: Why should B2B marketers avoid just producing content for "filling a channel" purposes?
Ramos: Engaging content leads the buyer through their journey. Many, many marketers take the “try it again” approach where they design one campaign, see how it performs, and then jump to the next and the next. Without a consistent thematic thread, these messages quickly start to sound like spam.
Instead of producing content to fill channels, B2B marketers should think about the story that they want to tell prospects and how they can parcel that content into different channels to capture attention and cause buyers to want to take the next step. And the next step may not necessarily be “buy our product”, but it needs to be more than “download our white paper”. And then do what? That’s the key to thinking about content creation in a holistic manner and not on a channel-by-channel basis.
CMSWire: How can these B2B marketers make their content engaging and more helpful to customers?
Ramos: By starting with the customer’s issues and concerns first and adopting the mindset that the content they produce will really help those customers start to solve those problems -- regardless of whether they sell something to them or not. After you decide on this approach -- and make this commitment -- the choices about message, format, distribution channels, promotion and management all become secondary to creating engagement.
CMSWire: Do you know of any good examples of marketing campaigns that were engaging for customers without being too promotion-ey?
Ramos: I like what the professional services firms -- like CSC, Capgemini, KPMG, etc. -- do when producing research on key industry or market trends. Look at Capgemini’s Car’s Online research or CSC’s World Magazine. They base the content on a foundational research study and report, but repurpose the content in many different ways to give it broader reach and more ways for buyers to interact with it.
I like what Sungard Availability Services did with their Zombie Apocalypse campaign as well.
CMSWire: Has there been one platform (blogs/linkedIn/Facebook/emails/etc.) that's been more successful when it comes to content marketing? Or is the platform simply not as important as the actual content?
Ramos: You know, ever since I started to cover the birth of social media channels in B2B marketing for Forrester back in 2006, I’ve always felt that the successful use of a specific platform -- or any marketing channel for that matter -- is primarily and specifically influenced by the quality of the content.
You can have a comprehensive social media strategy for covering all the available channels, and formatting the content specifically for those channels, but if none of the messages or information resonates with buyers, it won’t matter where or how often they see it. It can actually hurt your brand since progressive buyers will ignore your content once they figure out that it is value-less. And this happens pretty quickly these days.
Title image by RFarrarons (Shutterstock).