Creating compelling content can position you as a thought-leader and increase awareness of your company to your audience. It’s a key component of any marketing campaign but is critical to generating demand. That importance has increased even more in light of the fact that the average B2B buyer is 57% through the purchase decision before engaging a sales rep.
It’s also clear that content can take many forms, such as white papers, eBooks, videos, infographics, FAQs, brochures, and tutorials, just to name a few. In fact, in a lot of cases you can repurpose the same content in multiple formats to appeal to a wider audience.
But despite the importance of content and the fact that you can create many different forms depending on the skills of your team and the preferences of your audience, many B2B tech companies still struggle. In fact, according to the 2016 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budget and Trends report from the Content Marketing Institute only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, down from 38% last year. Why is that?
I actually think the answer is simpler than we may want to believe. I think the main issue that limits the effectiveness of B2B content marketing is that the objective for each piece is not clearly defined when the piece is created nor do people spend the time to figure out where it fits in the funnel. The result is that you have content sending a mixed message to the audience or you have too much content for a certain stage of the funnel.
In previous posts, I’ve mapped the content into the sales funnel but I think there is an even simpler way to look at it. That is that there are really two main types of content that needs to be created: educational and persuasive content. Before you object to this oversimplification, bear with me for a moment and let me explain.
Educational content talks about trends, new technologies, solutions to address key problems but not about products. It’s key to getting found, generating leads and fits nicely into the top part of the funnel. It also addresses the 57% of the purchase process before your sales team is engaged.
Persuasive content is key to convincing your target audience that you have the solution to solve their problems and that you are better than the competition, whether that be direct or indirect. It’s critical to nurturing leads and converting them into real sales opportunities. Even more important, you need it to move prospects through the funnel.
I know you can easily make an argue for multiple other categories or talk about other names to call these two but I think that compounds the issue and is the main reason that content marketing is not effective. Many content marketers get bogged down in the details and then can’t see the forest for the trees. Or even more likely, and I speak from experience, reviewers keep adding to a piece that had a clear goal at the start and the content ends up getting written by committee and is meaningless in the end.
That’s why I think creating two categories of content makes a lot of sense. It is easy to explain to others and clearly maps into the sales funnel and what stage the buyer is at. The weighting of the type of content could clearly be different based on your audience and stage of the market but it’s never going to be all of one type and none of the other.
I’m going to look at both of these categories of content some more over the next couple of posts but in the meantime, send me your thoughts and objections on this post below or via Twitter.