When I tell someone that I offer content marketing services to business-to-business (B2B) companies, the first question I usually get is along the line of the following: You do WHAT?
I could rattle off definitions of content marketing. The problem is that the marketing lingo in them likely won’t make sense to some, such as the engineer launching a new company, the vice president of sales who believes social media is for whippersnappers, or the neighbor who likes to keep tabs how I spend my time.
Content Marketing in Simple Language
Sometimes the best way to define content marketing is from the consumer’s point of view. Why? Because all of us – from the newbie business entrepreneur to my nosy neighbor – are consumers and understand what it takes to make a purchase and love a brand. Keeping that in mind, here we go with a plain language explanation:
Content marketing is different than the usual sort of advertising or marketing where companies try to directly convince you that their products or services are the best around in hopes that you will buy them. I’m talking about the “our car has top safety ratings/has the best gas mileage” or “this cell phone has more bells and whistles/is thinner/is the hippest” sort of stuff.
Content marketing takes a more subtle approach.
Instead of telling you why its products are superior, a company uses non-salesy blog postings, videos, newsletters, articles and so on to build a relationship with you. The idea is two-fold: 1) You’ll keep coming back for more good stuff, thus converting that company in your mind into a valued provider of information rather than a sales machine, and 2) You’ll be more likely to share non-salesy content – and your positive impression of that company – with friends and colleagues, thus spreading the love wider into the universe.
Want to guess which company pops into mind when it’s time to make a purchase? Chances are it’s the one with whom you have a “relationship” and good feelings.
One example of a business that has embraced content marketing is the Florida-based Publix Super Markets grocery store chain. Look at its website, for example. The information provided there goes way beyond ads and includes content such as a Wine 101 guide, a recall alerts list, info about free medications available through its pharmacies, an entire section about nutrition, and more. The website even has a pretty nifty interactive grocery list that can be personalized, saved and printed. Put in the store location where you shop, and the list will even indicate which aisles have your items. Users also may access their personal shopping lists via Publix’s free cell phone app and, when in the store, pick up a free printed copy of Publix Grape, a magazine packed with articles about wines, grape varietals, entertaining tips, recipes and more.
B2B vs. B2C Content Marketing
The idea behind B2B content marketing isn’t all that different than business-to-consumer (B2C) content marketing. In both cases, businesses are trying to sell their products or services. The distinction is who is doing the buying. Unlike a B2C situation where target buyers are individual members of the general public as does Publix, a B2B organization sells it services or products to other businesses.
Take the mobile technology industry, for example. On the B2C side, individuals buy cell phone services from companies such as Verizon or Sprint. However, for those companies to be able to provide a subscriber with a full array of features (e.g., text messaging, the ability to upload photos to Facebook and Twitter, Internet access, and so on), they buy software and services from other companies. Syniverse, a company for which I once served as director of global public relations, is a B2B company that sells a broad range of services to cell phone carriers. One way Syniverse builds trust and positions itself as an industry thought leader is to create relevant content that would interest its current and potential customers buyers in the mobile technology sector. Among the many pieces of content that can be found on the Syniverse website are white papers and infographics, a digital magazine, and videos.
Content Marketing Works
What’s important to remember is that content marketing is an effective marketing strategy in today’s increasingly busy and noisy world where buyers – both individual consumers and businesses – are so bombarded with marketing messages that they often tune them out.
Think about yourself: Do you fast forward through television commercials or hit the mute button on the remote? Do you ignore Internet banner ads across the top of a webpage or immediately click “close” when an Internet ad pops up? Have you given up a printed newspaper subscription and, as a result, your weekly grocery ad inserts?
- 73% of people prefer to get information about an organization in a collection of articles rather than in a traditional advertisement.
- 61% of people feel better about a company that delivers custom content and are more likely to buy from that company.
- 90% of consumers find custom content useful.
So what do you think about this explanation of content marketing? What should I add or delete? Anything still not making sense? Let me know in the comment section below and let’s see if we can build a better definition together.
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