The Easy Way to Make Sense of Content Marketing

Content marketing can do wonders for lead generation and conversion. But depending on who you talk to and what you read, “content” has a lot of competing definitions.

Let’s look at an article by Lee Odden, a really well-known and respected guy in the field (who wrote a book called Optimize that I actually own and enjoy). Odden interviews 40+ other such industry-people with the same simple question, “What is content?” The result is far from simple—close to 40 different answers.

It’s good to recognize that there’s a lot of self-promotion in most content-expert opinions out there today. So let’s explore what the word means, without spin.

Content is useful material that you share in order to attract and convert business prospects into sales. Good B2B content goes beyond product and service descriptions to educate prospects about topics relevant to their businesses and your own.

You can’t buy content by the bit

Ever since content marketing became buzzworthy, there has been no shortage of folks who want to sell it to you. Make sure you know what you’re getting.

Many are actually selling a monthly subscription to a software-as-a-service product that simply provides you with a dashboard for content marketing—not the content itself. Focusing all your content marketing efforts on a content conduit is an imbalanced approach. Conduits don’t create the quality content you want to promote, they transfer and track it.

Answers make good content

Good content answers all of your customers’ questions.

What questions do your customers ask? I am sure you can think of many. Your answers to those questions are primo content.

What questions don’t your customers ask, but they really should? Your customers may not be experts on every single topic related to your shared industry. When you help them solve problems they didn’t know they had, they’ll appreciate you even more.

Content was not invented by Al Gore

While content marketing as a term was coined in the online realm, good content has been a fundamental building block of successful B2B marketing forever. Don’t arbitrarily limit your content tactics to blog and social media posts.

Create and disperse targeted content for all of the places—both digital and in-person—that you and your customers could cross paths. Content created for one channel can often be easily adapted to others.

• Email
• Whitepapers
• Tradeshows
• Case studies
• Videos
• Webinars
• Tutorials
• Sellsheets & Brochures
• Samplers

Content takes time—don’t let that be the death of your content marketing plan

Time-commitment is the number one reason businesses fear content marketing. The fact is, the best experts to tap for content at any given company tend to stay busy. These experts usually don’t have the time to write content regularly enough for an effective content marketing campaign.

But content doesn’t need to rest solely on one or two people; start by building a creation team devoted to the effort. While you might not want to immediately hire FTEs for this, you can manage it easily by engaging a skilled technical writer willing to educate themselves on your industry. The writer can then interview your experts, research topics independently, and provide a stream of good content while keeping your time commitment light.

Key Takeaways

  • Never mind the spin

    “Content” is useful material created and shared with the ultimate goal of sales

  • MIND the spin

    Make sure you know exactly what a content marketing service is providing

  • Good content isn’t necessarily digital

    It just needs to answer your customers’ questions and be in a place where they can get at it

  • Explore all opportunities for sharing content

    That includes digital and in-person—forget about arbitrary limits—and don’t be afraid to adapt content to different formats and channels

  • Good content takes time

    But you can lessen the time commitment by hiring a technical writer who will learn about your industry, interview your in-house experts, and do independent research