B2B Content Marketing as Trojan Horse


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I sat in on the Content Marketing for Real Marketers webinar, with Joe Chernov and Rebecca Lieb, hosted by #CMI and Joe Pulizzi.

Of course there were many great points made, but two of them stood out and prompted this blog post:

  • Content draws 10X more media attention than product launches.
  • Diminishing the brand representation in favor of the story enables it to spread.

If you look at the first point, it offers proof that no one cares about products, but rather what they enable — which is what great content marketing is all about.

The second points out that it’s not about your company, but about the story you’re sharing.

I get asked a lot how to increase engagement with content. In fact, I know many marketers pining for the ability to get their content to go viral. In my experience you can’t “make” something go viral. But you can certainly up the odds with the way your content is designed. (As an aside, viral means nothing in B2B if it isn’t caused by the market you’re trying to engage.)

The issues I run into when it comes time to actually execute a program by publishing content include (but are not limited to):

  • Corporate editors bound and determined to get every trademark, service mark, product name and company name mentioned as often as possible when just talking about the product by an agnostic or industry label makes it easier for people to engage with the material.
  • Corporate editors who insist that the grammar be perfect, thereby making the content a chore to read by removing contractions, inserting “that” everywhere possible and inserting jargon because it’s part of the brand style guide. (e.g. use vs. leverage)
  • Companies that insist their logo, tagline and template are prominently displayed on every content asset – even though the corporate brand mafia have already done all of the above.
  • Companies that insist that the calls to action must be oriented around selling something.
  • The inability to respond quickly because EVERYTHING must be approved before it’s published.

The title of this post was also mentioned during the webinar and I love it. The concept is a perfect representation of content marketing done to best effect.

It’s really that simple. If your content provides ideas that inspire people to visualize themselves solving their problems or the path to a better tomorrow, then you’re on the right track. What you really want is for them to become so engaged that they take your ideas into conversations within their companies.

Such a simple concept, but one often overlooked because of the intense focus to insert the salesperson into the dialogue. Yes, of course that must happen in a B2B sale, but consider this:

If your content is designed to help people think about, visualize and discuss the ideas you share in relation to the problems your company solves, it serves as a Trojan Horse, getting salespeople invited into conversations faster than marketers can accomplish by trying to force the issue.

During the webinar, Joe mentioned that Eloqua’s logo is getting smaller by design on the content they share. Do you actually think that no one recognizes that Eloqua is providing the content? By making themselves the secondary focus, Eloqua is actually helping their brand gain prominence, as counterintuitive as that may seem. Because they are not screaming “LOOK AT ME”, the company is perceived as being more helpful by placing the emphasis on the content, not its brand representation.

Think about how you read content. Do you look for something interesting before you commit to spending time with it? I bet you do. Then, after you get that light bulb moment, you want to know who provided it. How much better of an impression has been made? How much more likely are you to remember the brand favorably?

It’s about using the story as stealth marketing, not clubbing people over the head with your product. Once the story is “in,” your company is “in” by association.

Great webinar! If you get a chance to listen to the archive, I suggest you do. There were many other great ideas shared during the session.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and the CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create and use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Ardath is the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She's also an in-demand industry speaker.


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