Guest post by Brian Bennett.
A major, tectonic shift has occurred in marketing over the last decade. Content-based digital marketing is now mainstream, as more than 91% of B2B marketers have embraced content marketing.
While old-school methods, such as print ads, still have their place in marketing strategy, they are less efficient and conversion-oriented. They are also less targeted and more apt to miss entire audiences who no longer consume traditional media.
B2B marketers need to shift from an advertising mindset to a publisher’s mindset.
Advertisers have historically spent resources renting audiences from publishers who build and cultivate them. Those audiences come back regularly for highly relevant information and entertainment.
Today, B2B marketers have the means to become publishers, cultivating their own audiences using an array of technologies, like AI and voice response, that enable businesses to connect even more personally with their customers.
Content marketing technologies also enable marketers to reach and attract a worldwide audience that is actively searching for information in the specific industry where you are particularly suited to provide advice. This is the most valuable audience a brand can have.
B2B marketers have to evolve fairly dramatically to achieve these benefits, however. They’ll need to develop a digital marketing infrastructure and a marketing plan. But they also need to have different skills and develop that publisher’s mindset to have success.
This mindset and the ability to actualize a campaign are acquired skills for most people. It’s very common for even the most intelligent and advanced practitioners to generally feel awkward or insecure in publishing and speaking as an authority via written word or video. But in a small group or social setting, they are often much more comfortable exhibiting their expertise. Here are some tips to harness that power like a publisher:
Establish a position, a style and a voice.
It will take some practice and repetition, but your brand needs to find its voice and its overall message. Not the voice of the individual contributors necessarily, but the cumulative brand voice. There needs to be a reason why you are publishing.
What is the benefit you are offering the audience? What is your mission? Understand where you want to take the content.
Understand and cater to the audience.
Publishers are in touch with their audience; that is how they stay in business. They ask questions, do surveys, listen to what their audience’s interests are, and then give them what they are craving. They pay attention to the popularity of their content and refine their editorial mix based on what is being consumed.
Illustrate expertise and maintain credibility.
Meaningful content is smart, insightful, timely, and delivered with a genuine interest in the audience. It cannot be self-serving to the publisher. Here’s an important rule of thumb: Share, don’t sell. Do your homework. Verify the accuracy of the content.
Share insight and information fluently.
It’s hard at first and then quickly becomes very enjoyable to publish and document your thoughts. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Once you are in the right mindset, you realize that many conversations that occur during the business week are article-worthy.
Much of the insight you can share is readily available and just takes a little time to outline and draft into a compelling piece. The key is to keep content at a high level, be prolific, and keep it short.
Publish regularly and prolifically.
Search engines love fresh, relevant content on a regular basis. So does your audience. So give them what they crave. Build an editorial calendar and stay on schedule.
Curate content carefully.
You don’t have to write everything. And you can’t be an expert at everything. If you are an industry expert, you know a good idea when you see it and you will be even more credible when you share innovative insights from others.
Promote the content.
The best content in the world will go unnoticed if you don’t use SEO practices, promote it through social media, cross-promote through other publishers (PR), advertise the fact that the content is available (Google AdWords & paid promotion), and get out and speak on these topics (event marketing). Do all of the above.
Understand the commitment.
All of the tactics discussed above require an investment of time from you and your organization’s subject matter experts, especially when you first begin. It also will take the time of your agency partner, if you have one.
And, unfortunately, the best intentions produce no result unless there is solid execution. It’s important to define expectations upfront and stay in regular contact with your team.
Publishing raises the level of professionalism in an organization. Sales pitches get better. Presentations get better. Thinking becomes more focused. Teams become more unified. Morale improves. Recruitment improves. Oh, and you will sell more product and make more money too!
Brian Bennett is President of STIR Advertising & Integrated Messaging in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can email him at email@example.com.