It is difficult to avoid the hype about content marketing (it is everywhere) but is it really of value to businesses in B2B markets? If a quantifiable ROI can be identified then is it best to go it alone or invest in a marketing mentor to guide you through the process?
The (Alleged) Value In Content Marketing
The theory behind content marketing all appears valid. It states that prospects and customers have grown weary of push marketing techniques. They no longer rely on suppliers and intermediaries to push out the information required to make purchasing decisions but actively seek out what they need long before engaging with a potential supplier.
Information (content) that supports potential customers information needs during various parts of the awareness and purchasing process, delivered to a point it is most likely to be read and engaged with is (it is suggested) a far better way to progress the sales process than push techniques.
The theory goes on to state that with strong content in place it can then be used to build high quality inbound links to the business website, increasing the effectiveness of the SEO process and driving the website up the Google rankings. Content may also be used to fuel social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook and increase both reach and potential customer engagement.
The Problem With Content Marketing
All of the above theory is valid and sounds wonderful in principle but there are some key problems to address. The first problem is the ‘build it and they will come‘ mentality. What complete nonsense, nothing is going to waste your time, effort and hard earned cash faster than buying into this mentality. Content must be marketed and delivered by the most appropriate means to reach the target audience.
This brings in the second problem and that is the need for a cohesive plan and strategy that details the target audience, what their individual information requirements may be at various stages in the buying process and (critically) where they look for that information. Without this in place a significant amount of time will be wasted on content that is of little use to the target audience and / or never reaches them. The most obvious resource customers may look for information may be on the web but it is important not to forget offline sources and the power of recommendation and word of mouth.
Finally, there is the issue of the time required to build and deliver content. It takes time to create blog posts, slideshares, infographics and other valuable and engaging information from scratch. It is therefore important that the maximum benefit is extracted from the content, it is re-used in as many different forms as possible and it is distributed appropriately. Every effort should be made to seek out information the business already has in place that may be updated and re-used and this should be mixed appropriately with new content to minimise the resources expended on content creation.
Is There Value In Employing A Mentor
In 2015 any business can build its own, content based, inbound marketing process. The issue is the time taken, the resources employed and the time wasted following blind alleys and the often misleading information published online. An alternative is to seek out a mentor that uses content marketing in their own business and is experienced in what works well (and what does not). Although a mentor comes at a cost this should be measured against time and resources lost if they are not available to help guide you through the process.