When it comes to 1:1 human interactions, perception is reality. Intention means little; the way in which you deliver a message — be it solemn condolences or boisterous congratulations — is what the other person experiences. But in the competitive world of B2B marketing, the reverse is true; what you have to say matters more to buyers than how you say it.
Survey says: solid content is your golden ticket
Forrester Research’s 2016 B2B Marketing Mix Survey took a look at the types of programs and campaign tactics available to marketers and asked budget survey respondents to rate the effectiveness of their budget choices for brand building and demand generation. They found that no single tactic works well for most B2B marketers; most marketers use a calculated mix and try to replicate and build on what works.
But one tactic stood out among the others: content marketing. As Forrester puts it, “Content marketing is more important than a successful mix. Content marketing stands alone as the most popular and most effective tactic in our survey, with the company website and in-person events coming in second and third, respectively. While you could argue that content is the foundation for every campaign tactic or program approach, this finding underscores its premier importance to achieving a productive B2B marketing mix. Simply put, what you have to say is more important than which channel or tactic you use to say it.” I’m inclined to agree with Forrester (and not just because I’m in the content marketing game). Put lipstick on a pig and it’s still a pig; this is to say that getting butts in seats at an event isn’t nearly as cost-effective as the content you provide prospective customers and existing clients.
This isn’t a revolutionary finding. Events are, without a doubt, more expensive than an ebook, blog post, and email campaign… combined. In-person events can’t reach as many people, and they aren’t shareable on social media (with one exception: the Oscars…).
And your company website? Company websites have become scrolling storage units for products, services, and contact information. Not to say that they’re useless; just that people don’t engage on company websites — at least not like we did back when it was our sole option for near-instant gratification (back when live chat was an impressive feature). We’ve moved into the realm of social media-first brand-customer engagement. Flight delayed? Tweet the airline a complaint. “Check in” at your local Olive Garden on Facebook. What you don’t do is go through a company’s website when you need immediate assistance or want to share an experience with others.
Let your content be your guide
One of the first steps you should take to make better use of your company’s content (and make sure it’s accessible to everyone in the company to share and repurpose) is to adopt a centralized content asset and measurement system. Without a central repository and a way to effectively measure content, you’re essentially creating a ton of maybe relevant one-off content without a way to share or repurpose it. And that’s a big maybe.
Forrester tells us that centralizing the tools marketers use to develop, share, and track their content creates some cross-channel cohesion automatically. There are a number of tools that work to pull content creation, storage, and distribution together. One content marketing platform that helps companies make this a reality is Salesforce Marketing Cloud. If you’re thinking of investing in a solution like Marketing Cloud that makes cross-channel development easier (and you should), you’re on the right track. A tool, platform, or some combination of the 2 that allows your content to be curated, stored, and used by teams across your organization is a smart investment, and a surefire way to see the best return possible on high-quality content.