When a Marketing Manager, Consultant, Agency, or other party says the words ‘Content Marketing’ to the C-Suite, they usually think of the work that Red Bull is doing, or GoPro, or Marriott, or even the recent work by Mondelez to become a media company. Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose have even said content could even become a profit center for brands. All of this work is pointing to why B2C companies should be investing in Content Generation and Content Distribution.

But B2C isn’t the industry that needs content marketing the most… Ultimately, consumers want products and while content can help them learn more about products and Content Marketing is a tremendously good investment for eCommerce growth. If you sell a product, you should already be doing some form of Online Public Relations, Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, or whatever you want to call it, non-paid marketing initiatives.

But, the industry that needs Content Marketing the most, isn’t B2C… it is without question, B2B.

According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends for North America report, almost 2/3 of B2B marketers have NO documented Content Marketing strategy and roughly 1/3 said their efforts are effective, which is down from 38% in 2015. This means that one year has passed, Content Marketing has become more mature, and yet, more B2B marketers feel their Content Marketing efforts are less effective. This sounds like a poor recipe.

Even more scary, 44% of B2B marketers meet either daily or weekly to discuss progress of content marketing, yet only 44% feel they even know what success looks like for their content marketing success.

But what about the money?

Despite 2/3 of B2B marketers lacking a formal strategy, and 1/3 saying their efforts are not effective, they are still allocating roughly 28% of their marketing budget to content marketing. This feels like a horrible ratio.

Content Marketing IS effective for B2B

The reality is whether you are selling a SaaS product, data center hosting, or office furniture, utilizing content as a means to educate your consumer, showcase your thought leadership, and qualify your business as the premier solution in your market is not just a strategy that big brands have the resources to employ, it is one that even the smallest brands can employ and showcase real success, and more importantly, drive leads to the business.

Ideas for Making Content Marketing Effective

We have done some amazing things for our clients in using content marketing to connect them with influencers, consumers interested in their product but looking for a helpful comparison chart, as well as turn their own website into a content destination for consumers interested in their market.

Here are some ideas that you can use to use content marketing as a lead driver for your B2B business.

The first thing you need to think about when developing your marketing strategy is to think of your consumer. What are their titles? Develop a persona for them, so you can understand the complete picture of that consumer.

Are they an architect? Develop content that provides them with content inspiration, current design trends, show them ideas on how they can do their job more efficiently. Need a good example, look at InVision.

Let’s say you are a CPA firm and you know your audience is a group of financial professionals. Develop content related to the latest tax laws, expert interpretations (from the accounting professionals on staff) of those laws and how they will impact businesses. This will showcase the expert thought leadership, as well as potentially spur up some new business if professional help is needed.

Let’s say that you sell packaging materials or even packaging solutions. Your customers are typically buyers within the organization whose role it is to deliver innovating packaging solutions to Product Managers and Operations Managers that hopefully will reduce product costs, as well as provide that pop that will make the product unique. Why not utilize your own website to showcase content on the latest design trends, unique uses of packaging, consumption habits and packaging preference from a specific generation (i.e. millennials love limited time packaging, such as that from Coke, and really like sustainable packaging), or even mining research studies for a ‘cliff notes’ version to help busy buyers and make them look like heroes in the eyes of the board room. Ernest Packaging does a great job of this and so does EPI Labelers.

I will end this post with some statistics from State of Inbound Marketing studies:

  • Brands utilizing content marketing save an average of $14 per new customer acquired.
  • Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads on average than traditional outbound marketing

So Content Marketing is only for B2C brands like GoPro, Red Bull, etc. I shared examples from some of the ‘most boring’ industries around (Financial, Packaging, Architecture) and they are driving REAL leads through their content marketing efforts. So tell me again, do you think it is a good idea to continue another year without a formal content marketing strategy or are you one of those B2B organizations not employing content marketing or Online PR today?