Is content marketing a secret marketing weapon today? Not really. It is the backbone of most of the marketing communication. It is the gasoline of your social media efforts. It’s an opportunity for businesses to create the image of being a knowledge partner. It is a way to earn the respect and trust of the potential buyers.
Demand Metric states that 90% of organizations now market with content. According to Marketo, organizations with over 1,000 employees have a budget of $1,057,300 and those with fewer than 1,000 employees set aside $335,200 for content marketing.
Considering the importance given to content marketing, it is obvious that businesses are cautious and particular when they select the content marketers they work with. Here is something that can make your search simple. Look for these traits in your B2B content marketers -
#1: They are Process Oriented
“Perfection has to do with the end product, but excellence has to do with the process.” – Jerry Moran
I am yet to see a successful content marketer who is not process-oriented. A non-documented content strategy is a non-existent strategy. Good content marketers will start with strategy definition and ensure that it is well documented and has the buy-in of the stakeholders.
Secondly, content writing is not something which you can decide to do in the morning and then execute by evening. Content marketing is an integral part of the overall marketing plan and therefore needs to be well thought-out and well-planned. For example, if the marketing focus for the month for an organization is on the outreach to a particular audience, content marketing needs to adapt to that. That’s where planning plays a big role. The content marketers have a well-defined plan in place, well in advance. It is part of their editorial calendar.
#2: They are skillful writers
“You don’t write because you want to say something….you write because you have something to say” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Good content writers live by this mantra. They don’t write for the sake of writing. They write insightful, entertaining, and useful content. Their words and style are their most cherished assets. Their writing serves the reader. They put their content in context, with the use of solid data, research and facts. Their content has logic and structure, which serves to clear the confusion from readers’ minds. Even if the business is complex, good writers make it simple and easy to understand.
#3: They are great at managing internal subject matter experts
“With rare exceptions, all of your most important achievements on this planet will come from working with others-or, in a word, partnership.” - Paul Farmer
Many times, B2B marketers need to work in industries like technology, manufacturing or engineering. These industries have complex products and difficult concepts. Writing a compelling piece of content which appeals to the desired target audience in such cases is a difficult task – it involves extensive research, discussions with SMEs and getting their buy-in. Good content marketers not only need to possess the knack of working with multiple such stakeholders aka SMEs, but also need to understand how to optimally use their time.
Here is what has worked best for me personally. Based on social listening, I identify the theme or topic for the content. Then I do my research, and finalize a list of keywords that need to be used. Based on the keywords, I prepare a set of questions for the SMEs. Once this is done, I meet the SMEs for 20-30 minutes to get answers to my questions. The SMEs have abundant knowledge. The real trick is in capturing this knowledge and presenting it in a publishable and promotable format.
#4: They are awesome storytellers
“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” – Hannah Arendt
Marketing is noisy and the Internet is full of content. How do you make your content stand out from the clutter? Storytelling is the answer. Today, nobody wants to see your company brochure presented in the form of a blog article. Your product or service CANNOT be the hero of your story. The buyer/ reader needs to be the hero. The best content captures the attention of the readers, resonates with them, answers their questions, and gets them engaged enough with the content to share it.
#5: They provide answers to questions
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” ― Dr. Seuss
Nobody is interested in your product or services. People want answers to their questions. They want solutions to their problems. This is reflected now in search patterns as well – earlier, people used to search for keywords, now they search for answers. If your content provides answers to their questions, chances are that the search engines will rank your content higher and more importantly, people will appreciate and read your content. It will create you an image as a knowledge partner and expert in the field, whom they can go to for solutions to their problems.
#6: They understand social media
“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” ― Anton Chekhov
There are 700+ social networks and each social platform is different. While all the social platforms follow the underlying philosophy of two-way communication and interaction, there is a lot of difference in the way each platform works – Facebook is more visual, Twitter is 140 characters and has got immediacy associated with it, LinkedIn is more professional, Pinterest is highly creative and so on. The best content marketers understand the nuances of each platform, and instead of using the same content on all the platforms, they tailor-make the content based on the network they are going to promote it on. They repurpose the content based on their understanding of the platforms. For example, they might convert a blog post into an infographic for publishing on Pinterest, or they might include some tweetable stats in the blog post to make it easy to share on Twitter.
#7: They are tech-savvy and leverage various tools
“It’s not that we use technology, we live technology.” ― Godfrey Reggio
Godfrey Reggio has put it very aptly. We live in a hyper-connected technological world, and marketers can’t afford to keep themselves away from technology. By tech-savvy, I mean using technology tools and mobile apps to make themselves more effective and productive. There are many apps that help in finding, and curating content, getting ideas for content topics, promoting the content and so on. Here is a brilliant image which every content marketer should make the desktop default wallpaper :-)