Content is King. It's been said so many times that it's almost become a cliche—but it's still true. And it's especially true when you're selling to other businesses.
Sales copy is still important. But it's still concrete, informative, authoritative content that sells business owners and department managers, long before that final sales pitch even starts.
Decision makers want plenty of trustworthy information to base their buying decisions on. So when you give them information on why you are the best choice, you need to make sure you do so in the most effective manner possible.
These five steps will walk you through how to do just that.
1. Check the Content Offerings in Your Market
You're probably familiar to some degree of what your competitors are doing when it comes to content marketing. But have you taken the tame to really gauge your market?
You'd be surprised at what you might be missing. Very few business owners know everything that's going on in their market unless they make a concerted effort. To find out what's going on in your market, you should:
- Read your competition's blogs at least every week (even after you've quit your research phase).
- Find out who among your competitors have guest editorials or other content positions in local online publications.
- Sign up for the email marketing list of everyone in your market. This will usually give you access to both their lead-gen emails as well as the "bait" content (the PDF guide or other piece of content that is given in return for a prospect's email address).
- Look over all of your competition's whitepapers.
- Check PRWeb and Google News (and Bing News) for media releases from your competition.
- Look and see how successful competitors in your market are using social sites like Facebook and Twitter, “Web 2.0” sites like Hubpages and Squidoo, etc.
Your content types may include:
- Blog Posts (No longer optional!).
- Facebook Posts & links to other content (Also no longer optional!).
- PDF documents hosted on Scribd.com and other places.
- PDF how-to reports, guides, and whitepapers that prospects can download from your site.
- Email marketing messages.
- Video posts on Youtube, Vimeo, etc.
- Short content (and links to other content) on Twitter.com.
It's also a good idea to see what successful businesses outside of your market are doing, that no one in your market is doing—yet.
Compare what the winners are doing and what the losers are doing. See what they do differently--and model your campaign accordingly.
Finally, look at what types of content your competitors are offering at different points in the sales funnel. The B2B sales process typically takes longer, and requires more authoritative content than similar B2C campaigns. Create valuable content so that it qualifies and keeps your best prospects.
Your research phase is the foundation upon which the rest of your content marketing rests, so make sure it is thorough!
2. Decide Your Content Type
By now, you should know several different ways that your competitors are promoting themselves (content marketing is more diverse than most people think!).
Keep in mind if there is something that almost every successful business in your market is doing, there's a good chance they're onto something. And if they're not, you'll find out soon enough—and can move on to a content strategy you find more effective.
3. Post Appropriate Content in Appropriate Places
Your own blog and Facebook accounts are obvious must-post places. You can promote your content here with ads and other paid promotion strategies, if you need. Post links to your blog on Facebook and Twitter—but also link to other places where you post. Just make sure you don't promote your content so much that it starts to look spammy!
Post everywhere your competitors are posting. Even if only one other business is posting at WeirdSiteYouNeverHeardOf.com, make sure you post there too.
When you're done, post more. When it comes to spreading your content far and wide, you've got it easy. There is no secret formula, no special knowledge required. All you have to do is spend more time and energy on it than everyone else in your market—or hire someone who will.
4. Monitor Your Results
There are many different analytics programs that will tell you where your traffic is coming from. Even the relatively straightforward Google Analytics has gotten robust recently (while also remaining easy to use).
Facebook, as well as many Web 2.0 properties typically provide some type of analytics for your content. Facebook's analytics are particularly detailed when it comes to who is interested in your page and who is talking about your content; make sure you post your most important content to your page.
Using a marketing platform like HubSpot will help you see the big picture and pull analytics from both your website and social platforms together for a complete view of your performance.
You should either invest in analytics, or find a marketing partner who will do so for you.
5. Follow Up—And Put Old Content in New Formats
Once you know what works, you'll want more of the same. That doesn't mean that you should reproduce your old content word-for-word (although this can work when you put written content in audio or video form).
It does mean that you will discover which topics and hot-buttons resonate particularly well with your audience. Any good sales funnel should drive home your key benefits and (in most circumstances) your offer several times. There are many different types of content in use – so be sure you’re making use of them!