A growing number of organizations are allocating ad dollars to content marketing. Are you on board yet? We spoke to education editor and content specialist Kanoe Namahoe on why content marketing matters and how companies can craft engaging, effective content.
How would you define content marketing?
Content marketing is a way for companies to communicate and build relationships with their customers through practical, relevant, meaningful content. The primary goal of content marketing programs is to move readers toward action, and the best way to do this is with content that truly addresses readers’ needs.
Why should B2B companies consider content marketing?
Because it’s smart. Content marketing gives companies different ways to engage with customers as they move along the buy cycle, from discovery through exploration and evaluation and on to selection and purchase. White papers, webinars, Q&A pieces, case studies and infographics are all smart ways to educate readers and to address important questions as they cycle through this process. Readers know and seek out these types of content when they need to gather information, build arguments and make purchasing decisions. Done right, these content pieces can go a long way in building trust between companies and their customers.
What are the keys to success in creating content that target audiences want to read?
Find out what the audience needs. What issues are they facing daily? What questions do they have? What’s keeping the CEO and his or her managers up at night? Honoring customers and taking the time to understand their pain points goes a long way toward crafting meaningful content.
Be authentic. For instance, if you’re writing a case study, tell the truth about what happened during the deployment and testing process. If there were hiccups, say that. Readers know those things happen, and they’re looking to see how you can respond in those situations. Highlight your strengths by telling the full story and demonstrating your ability to address issues head-on. You’ll build trust when you’re honest.
Avoid a heavy sales message. It turns readers off. Research has found that if you create practical content, readers will dig for more. They’ll keep your content piece, pass it on to colleagues and reference it when making recommendations for vendor short lists. Content that’s heavy on the sales message tends to be light on — or even devoid of — meaningful information.
Content marketing is about nurturing relationships. Authentic, relevant content that addresses real-world needs goes a long way toward fostering trust that translates to relationships.
What advice would you give a company starting content marketing for the first time?
Choose a partner that truly knows your market and will apply principles of integrity to your content. The partner should have editors or content experts who can give you ideas and help you hone your message. They will know how to weave an interesting story that engages the reader and evangelizes your strengths with an honest voice.
Once you find this partner, stand back and let them do their job. You’ll be glad you did.
Kanoe Namahoe is an editor and content specialist at SmartBrief, with a background and expertise in working with companies to create information and experiences that engage business-to-business audiences. Learn more about how to effectively create relevant and meaningful content – download SmartBrief’s Telling a Good Story: 6 Best Practices for Using Content Marketing to Build Your Audience.