While being a category thought leader creates the potential of competitively differentiating your brand, any B2B tech marketer should be producing informative content for its prospects, leads, and existing customers.
Today's buyers are not talking to sales until late in the purchasing cycle. Tech marketers need to act on this by developing an array of educational materials available online and in print that help gain desired brand perceptions well before sales ever hears from a customer. Branded content must educate and demonstrate category thought leadership while steering prospects toward your solution.
The most effective content or collateral material goes far beyond information. It must address and soothe customers' business pain and help support the buyers' decision in your brand's favor, while not merely hyping products or services. Your content should deliver relevant advice which helps purchasing decision-makers more effectively do their jobs. Provide your prospects with in-depth knowledge on the application of your technology in general and your products in particular. The pay-back will be a competitive edge and increased likelihood of purchase.
On the other hand, pushing self-serving messages will get your brand ignored. This requires listening to your market and helping customers make wiser decisions, which may even go so far as recommending another brand's solution. It's formalized and documented consultative selling.
While there's a strong push for marketers of all types to adopt a content creation strategy, it's frankly been a very successful promotional technique for decades. Companies, including ones in the electronics OEM sector, have developed their own content in the forms of magazines, videos, slideshows, newsletters, sponsored films, newspapers, informational white papers, books, and even comic books. Does anyone remember Captain Zilog? So, the idea of marketers being in the publishing business really isn't such a new an idea, it's just one that's becoming better recognized and that more are investing in.
Borrowing some ideas from consumer brands is also an option. What's truly new and exciting is that Web technologies now make production and distribution far more cost-effective and rapidly achievable.
GlobalSpec, a search engine for the engineering, industrial, and technical communities, says that buyers consume and review over six separate content items before a purchase decision. Companies investing in a content library put themselves in a more competitive position to attract inquiries, nurture leads, and positively engage customers and even retain existing ones.
Among the most effective investments in B2B marketing content are:
- White papers (not lightly-veiled sales brochures)
- Research reports
- Webinars and saved Webinar files for subsequent use
- Case histories, success stories, and customer endorsements (testimonials)
- Video demonstrations
- Blog posts
B2B purchasers now behave very much like consumers. They search Google, look at reviews and users' comments, and then decide to buy. However, they may still be weighing multiple brands. If your brand has fresh, informative content for purchasers to review, your credibility and value receive a big boost over your competitors.
What kinds of informational assets can your company create? First, what's your marketing communications strategy? Do you have one? How do you sell, directly or through channels? What areas of interest exist in the circle of decision-makers who affect buying decisions? How would training on how to use your products help build perceived brand value and perhaps sustain re-purchase? What do you already have that can be repurposed? What's in print that could become a video or vice versa?
Considering appropriate media, have you looked at mobile or video communications? Would having YouTube videos posted on your site or blog help move prospects in your direction? Consider all the content and delivery media possibilities that may work well for your particular business, help to set your brand apart, and attract the kinds of customers you need for success. Build a plan and start investing in your content marketing inventory.