A coherent strategy is fundamental to successful marketing, this applies equally to the creation of content. Whilst it is possible to recognise a superbly executed creative or expertly crafted piece of copy – if it doesn’t form part of a cohesive strategy any impact will be short-lived and limited.
The importance of a strategic approach to content marketing is increasingly recognised. Accenture reported that B2B buyers are 57% of the way through the purchase decision before they engage directly with an organisation. Therefore, determining the right content and messaging is crucial. However, the Content Marketing Institute recently noted that only 40% of B2B marketers have a documented strategy.
What’s so important about a content strategy?
An evidence-based strategic approach to content creation is crucial to ensure a consistent voice. A focused approach will maximise the impact on your broader commercial objectives and marketing KPIs. Clarity on what you are seeking to achieve, through clear metrics, brings focus – optimising impact, ongoing learning, and messaging refinement. A content strategy is a dynamic, living plan.
What’s happening to the marketing funnel?
Whilst historically content has been mapped sequentially across a funnel, evidence suggests that a growing body of buyers simultaneously explore parallel streams of content. Furthermore, the same research identified that prospects may engage lightly during the working week and return to the content at the weekend for more in-depth insight, factors to consider when developing your content strategy.
The heart of a content strategy
At the core of the strategy is the value proposition, how you can uniquely differentiate yourselves in terms of the value that you bring to your customers and developing the supporting messaging framework. A common mistake, particularly within B2B tech is a focus on functionality and the latest capability. This contrasts with values-led messaging, which communicates from the perspective of the benefits to the user. Tapping into the associated personal value experienced by your customers, stimulates an emotional connection. This was identified in seminal research by Google and the CEB Marketing Leadership Council, and more recently in the Harvard Business Review, which also cautioned against the trap of commodity-based marketing/sales over broader emotional and rational considerations.
This mirrors our recent case study which powerfully outlines that effective messaging is about the problems you solve not the product you make. Our client’s strategic shift in focus resulted in a 9 percent increase in average customer spend within 3 months of launching, along with a 50% increase in the average number of products purchased per customer.
A considered strategy is not just about generating new content but also evaluating existing assets through the same strategic lens and adjusting or reworking as appropriate. It is about bringing together all content, under the same umbrella, diversified by persona type and wider criteria such as industry and or solution focus to optimise the cumulative impact.
In addition to the importance of stimulating an emotional connection, social proofing to underline credibility and instil trust is also key. Both elements can be powerfully wrapped into a case study. Telling an engaging story to deliver third party affirmation that people like your prospects, have successfully addressed the same challenges and pain points by working with you. Reducing perceived risk through vicarious learning. Therefore, also supporting the internal upsell of the product. This is supported by recent research which explored 34 million exchanges between customers and content on a sales document platform, where the strongest engagement was with case studies.
The magic ingredient
The power of storytelling, has been suggested to be the magic ingredient in communications, stimulating the release of dopamine, oxytocin and cortisol in the brain, chemicals linked to emotional regulation which enhance engagement and empathy along with the formation of memories. Story telling is as old as time and enables us as humans to create a context and meaning around information, to learn through the experiences of others, who have stood in our shoes. Again, it comes back to understanding your audience, what are their pain points, what matters to them, speaking their language, communicating how can you solve their problem – and how other businesses have successfully worked with you, to do so.
Put content at the core of your marketing strategy
A wide body of research, along with our own experience clearly points to the value of putting content at the core of your marketing strategy. We specialise in B2B marketing for digital tech and telecommunications companies. We therefore have the depth of expertise, and sector understanding to support you to develop your winning content strategy. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more.