Content marketing is the practice of marketing a business by establishing the business as an expert and reliable resource to solve a problem.  According to Bruce Rogers, Chief Insight Officer at Forbes and one of the world’s foremost authorities on thought leadership, “Content marketing can be defined as the creation and distribution of meaningful insights, perspectives, and best practices that are valuable to a specific audience. The aim is to retain existing clients including doing more business with them and to attract new high-quality clients.”   Content can be distributed through a variety of online and offline media.

Content marketing represents a shift in power in the buyer/seller relationship.  The buyer has control of content it receives and selects companies and products based on relationship.  A recent study by Axxon Media indicated that 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads.  Customers want to be able to conduct research on their own, and select resource providers that have proven reliable, knowledgeable and  capable.

Where does that leave the business?  They need to be able to develop a reputation, across whatever channel their buyer is likely to use, of becoming a trusted advisor.  Understanding their customers pain points, relating to the issues that might inspire a customer to use their service or product, and providing value helps to build a relationship over time.  Companies should develop and distribute content that will attract, capture, nurture, convert and expand its audience over time.

One of the biggest benefits of content marketing is its leveling nature.  Small businesses can compete with larger competitors by establishing a professional presence in the marketplace.  Customers are less likely to buy from a larger company solely based on its size.  It’s the relationship that matters, and smaller organizations are inherently better at building and maintaining solid relationships than large ones.

The development of the content is important too…and larger companies are simply not as effective at it as smaller ones.  According to a study by Gleanster Research, midsize to large B2B organizations waste an estimated $958 million each year in inefficient and ineffective content marketing spend.  Waste comes from failure to meet task deadlines, redundant content creation, and coordinating the people contributing to and reviewing content.

That’s not to say that small companies can’t grow to become large ones through the use of content marketing.  As a business grows based on relationships and using content marketing techniques, the process becomes central to the infrastructure of the business, so as long as content marketing is utilized properly as a company grows, it is able to remain competitive and attract even more business.

There are still issues facing organizations who want to implement a content marketing program.  According to the 2014 Benchmark report on Content Marketing in the B2B space, B2B marketers cite lack of time (69%), producing enough content (55%) and producing the kind of content that engages (47%) as their top three marketing content challenges.  These are significant issues and many companies struggle with workflow that content marketing requires.

Additionally, many companies fail to recognize content marketing for what it is, and therefore don’t adequately plan for or analyze results of efforts as they would for other marketing programs.

A detailed and well designed plan, commitment from all levels of the organization, and the establishment of accurate analytical benchmarks allowing for adjustments and tweaks to the plan can resolve many of the issues that companies may run into as they venture into the world of content marketing. It’s important to also allow for educational time, and ongoing research, as the marketplace is shifting at a rapid pace.

For more help in developing a content marketing plan for your business, or to determine if one is right for your needs, contact us!