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What is Content Marketing and Why Should You Care?

by | Content Marketing, Digital Marketing Basics

You’ve heard the term thrown around, but you’re not quite sure what it is… Content Marketing.

Also known as “marketing de contenidos” in Spanish and “内容营销” in Chinese (I’m not showing off, I swear), it has become one of the leading strategies B2B businesses use to attract customers.

In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B companies are now doing content marketing. That means it’s become one of the fundamental approaches you need to survive in the current environment. 

So what is content marketing and how does it work?

Let’s dive into it.

A Basic Definition of Content Marketing

Content marketing means creating and sharing online content to attract an audience. This includes things like blogs, white papers, videos, case studies, and more.

The key word here is attract.

Traditional marketing is about interrupting people. You’re watching your favorite TV show and it gets interrupted by a commercial for laundry detergent. You open up your mailbox and find a mail piece advertising legal services.

9 Hummingbirds Hovering Around FeederContent marketing is the exact opposite.

Have you ever put nectar into a hummingbird feeder? You’ll have cute little creatures coming around all day, humming delightfully as they sip up all the good stuff.

Your content is that good stuff and the hummingbirds are your potential customers.

Your goal is to create content that will attract them through channels like search engines (i.e. Google), social media (i.e. LinkedIn), and email (their inbox).

Your nectar needs to be educational and interesting. It needs to help them solve the challenges they’re facing. They have to want to look at it because they can tell it will be useful to them.

How to Create Content That Attracts Your Target Audience

You may be asking yourself:

“How on earth can I attract people to my content? My industry isn’t exactly the most exciting thing in the world.”

It doesn’t have to be.

The key thing to remember is that your potential customers need information to do their jobs. Before they make a purchase, they do research on the Internet. Back in the old days, purchasers asked salespeople lots of questions. Today, they don’t have to. Everything they want to know is online.

They ask Google.

Google Search Query: Should I powder coat or anodize my widgets?

If you can provide good answers to your target customers’ common questions, you’ll be golden. If you can educate them about the changes happening in your industry, you’ll be double-golden.

If you can get your content to show up for their search queries, then you’ll have a steady stream of potential customers flowing into your website.

Think about:

  • The questions your salespeople get during the sales process.
  • The considerations a prospect needs to make before they place an order.
  • All the steps they need to go through in the planning of their project.

This will help you come up with questions that you can answer in the form of blogs, video, and other content. Creating all this content requires effort and a budget.

So, why should you go to all the trouble?

Why You Absolutely Need to do Content Marketing

When people have questions about your products or services, they don’t ask. They search.

94% of B2B Buyers Conduct Research OnlineIn fact, according to a study from Accenture, 94% of B2B buyers report that they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product.

What does that mean for you?

If they’re not doing their research on your website, they’re doing it on your competitors’ sites. As such, they’re becoming more familiar with your competitors’ products and services instead of yours.

On the flipside, if you can get in front of them early in their research process, you gain an edge. They become familiar with your company’s brand. And they’re more likely to remember you later.

That’s why you want to consider what’s often called the “buyer’s journey.”

The Importance of the Buyer’s Journey

It’s important to recognize that people don’t just wake up one day and decide to buy your products or services.

There is a process they go through to get to that point. This process is what we refer to as the “buyer’s journey.” Awareness, Consideration, Decision Along a Winding RoadIt can be broken down into three main stages:

Stage #1: Awareness
They realize that they have a problem.

Stage #2: Consideration
They need to resolve it, so they begin researching their options.

Stage #3: Decision
Armed with information, they go through the process of choosing a solution.

So, what does this mean for you?

You should create content that satisfies their needs for information at all three stages. That way, you can help them along their journey. By being there when they need you, you’re making it more likely that they will choose your solution in the end.

What Types of Content Can You Create?

There are many different types of content you can create. You are only limited by your human imagination. Here are some common types of content:

Blog Posts

Blogs (like the one you’re reading right now) are generally written in a conversational style and allow your audience to get familiar with your points of view. They also help to show your expertise.

Example: 3DPrinting.com Posts News-Style Blogs About Their Industry

 

Webinars

A webinar is a live online presentation that includes audio and video. You can even do a Q&A to answer any questions your guests have about the topic.

Screenshot: Epec PCB Webinars

Example: Epec Hosts Webinars on Printed Circuit Board Design

 

Case Studies

Case studies allow you to highlight successful projects your company has completed. These especially help when your website users are closer to the decision stage.

Screenshot: Ryder Case Studies

Example: Ryder Produces Case Studies to Show Customer Successes

 

Whitepapers

A whitepaper is a persuasive and authoritative piece that presents solutions to your market’s problems. It can help lead purchasers further along their buyer’s journey.

Screenshot: Kenco Whitepapers

Example: Kenco Provides Authoritative Whitepapers on Their Website

 

And Many More

Other types of content include ebooks, cheat sheets, workbooks, templates, reports, infographics, slide decks, videos, podcasts, newsletters, photos, quizzes, calculators, assessments, apps, and more!

Different types of content can work better at different stages of the buyer’s journey. But it’s important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t just rely on one. The best thing you can do is create a mix of content to help bring people into your world and keep them there.

So, let’s recap.

Attract Your Target Audience and Move Them Towards Working With You

Content marketing is about attracting people rather than interrupting them. You want to create content that will attract potential customers.

To do that, think about the types of questions they usually ask during the sales process. Think about the considerations they need to make and the steps they need to take before placing an order.

Don’t skip out on doing content marketing.

If your target audience isn’t getting the information they need from you, they’ll be getting it from your competitors. You can use your content to help guide them along the buyer’s journey and eventually toward working with you.

The types of content you create are up to you and only limited by your imagination. For more ideas on how you can develop your content marketing program, sign up for my newsletter! I’ll update you when I post new content.

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By Billy Miner

Billy Miner is a marketer and writer who helps B2B companies get more traffic, leads, and sales. He is passionate about helping companies take their marketing to the next level.

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