The stats are pretty clear:
- 77 percent of B2C and 86 percent of B2B companies are using content marketing – Jeffbullas.com
- 78 percent of CMO’s think custom content is the future of marketing – Visual.ly
- $135 billion was spent on digital marketing content in 2014 – Visual.ly
- 62 percent of millennial loyalty is driven by content – NewsCred
- 65 percent of your audience are “visual learners” – Visual.ly
So we’re all doing it, content marketing is here, the world has changed. Terrific… But are we really doing content marketing?
I’m not convinced
I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at Web and social pages for clients, prospects, customers and partners of clients. The companies I work with are in Asia, but many are global, so while my point is being made about Asia, I think this is a much broader discussion.
As an example, on a recent thought leadership content curation exercise of about 20 B2B LinkedIn company pages, I can assure you, the stats above are far removed from the reality I’m discovering. On my recent sample, I’d say 20 percent are actually successfully creating content marketing, and that feels generous.
What’s the difference between Content Marketing, PR and Marketing?
How’s this for my latest definition:
- If you’re talking about stuff you want your customer to be interested in, that’s marketing.
- If you’re telling the world how awesome you are, what award you won, which analyst group ranked you in a quadrant/wave, etc… that’s PR.
- If you’re talking about stuff the customer is already really interested in, stuff that happens to be aligned to your business, but is helping your customer be awesome and it’s not directly about you, that’s content marketing.
Here’s the good news – all of this has a place. Companies must continue to market the products and services they sell. By the time prospects come to you to explore your solution because you’ve convinced them you can solve their problem (as well as being a business they trust) they’re ready to find out more.
As we all know, a lot of customers today are more than 50 percent of the way through the decision making process by the time they engage with you – according to Tiffani Bova, VP and distinguished analyst, Gartner. Before this, they are out there having peer group discussions, absorbing vendor-neutral thought leadership content, talking to industry influencers, reading research, blogs and more. So by the time they get to you that content needs to be excellent. But it’s marketing.
Content marketing comes in the first 50 percent and I wanted to ask you some questions. Be honest with your answers:
- Which of your business leaders are actively and intelligently participating in peer groups – such as LinkedIn Groups?
- What thought leadership content are you feeding customers who are still in the consideration phase (the first 50 percent) and how are you enticing them and building their trust in your brand?
- Are you actively bringing your entire business ecosystem together and supporting your partners, customers and employees by sharing their world-class content with your prospects? Or is it still just your stuff?
- Are you out there, positioning yourself as a brand that understands your customers in the early stages of the sales cycle, answering their questions, and feeding their minds?
If this is happening, that’s content marketing.
And then we have PR, which still very much has a place. As a PR person of many years, its value remains because it gives customers confidence in your brand. Remember when they used to say you never get sacked for buying IBM? That’s pure brand trust. PR is fundamental and critical in the trust phase, it’s just not content marketing.
See for yourself
Do me a favour right now. Go to your company LinkedIn page and tell me what you see. Is it marketing, PR or content marketing? You need to really stand back and be honest.
- Is it about your products or services? That’s marketing
- Is it a press release, award, recognition, or people content? That’s PR
- Is it about thought leadership topics that map to the problem you solve but not about the product you offer? That’s content marketing
Does my definition make sense?
Your prospects – especially those in B2B, who have embraced LinkedIn as a content platform, versus the old thinking of it as a recruitment platform – are not there to be sold to. They’re there to be educated and you’ve got a LOT of competition. Make sure it’s awesome!
A good mix to create a really powerful LinkedIn business presence, company Facebook page, or a strong content driven web presence is: 60-80 percent content marketing to 20-40 percent marketing or PR. Getting this mix right is critical.
So tell me, what did you see on your LinkedIn business page. Have you got the mix right? Inspired by the content your company is putting up? I really would love to know! Leave a comment.