Tuning Forke

How to Align Content Marketing to your Business Audience

b2b content marketing

Gone are the days where the biggest struggle was what to blog about every week.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or watching back to back episodes of MadMen so long it’s skewed your perception of reality) then you’ve noticed the dynamic shift that consumers have made when it comes to buying choices.

Gone are the days when you had to think in terms of marketing message on Print, TV and radio. Marketing teams and creative agencies are stretching their imaginations to create content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.

With the emergence of consumer-centric marketing and the wide acceptance of social media (Facebook has recently reached half of the world’s online population), today’s CMOs need to provide consumers with content on every channel they may be on.

All this while staying true to the brand AND engaging your customers.

If you’ve ever stood in line at a Barista, you may have noticed a slightly smug person at the counter reciting his or her order down pat (“Double Ristretto Venti Nonfat Organic Chocolate Brownie Frappuccino Extra Hot with Foam and Whipped Cream Upside Down Double Blended”). That’s a marketing person. Reciting a complicated beverage order is child’s play next to the complexity of strategizing, aligning and implementing an effective content marketing plan for today’s connected consumer.

According to the 2014 B2B Content Marketing report conducted by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), BrightCove and MarketingProfs, 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing to attract potential customers, generate leads and close sales.

Yet of these, only 42% of marketers think that their efforts are ‘effective’, which seems to reflect itself in the fact only 44% of B2B marketers having a documented content strategy.

 

Today’s Marketing Mayhem

How do you create a content marketing plan to engage with everyone? How do you ensure all that content is on target with your marketing objectives? To the CMO it can often seem like a hundred people have entered into the brainstorming room and causing utter chaos by their inexplicable and often conflicting demands.

If you’ve reached your limit on what topics to write about, are wondering how to extend your existing content to other digital channels, or have simply run out of things to say… read on. We’ve put together a few pointers that will show you how to put together an extensive content marketing plan for the year.

 

Think Customer-Centric Not Business-Centric

Customers now travel along a path of information gathering which includes, friends, families, review sites, real stores, and e-commerce sites.

Retailers, consumer goods manufacturers and marketers alike have had to revamp the way they strategize and operate in order to keep up with the empowered, connected consumer. In the new scenario, the customer is the central authority on what works and what doesn’t. And you have (hopefully) thousands of them at the very least.

 

Breaking Down Your Customer’s Journey

Start by realigning your thinking to what the customer would like to see as opposed to what you want to say.

And to do this knowing exactly who you are talking to is vital to your success in content marketing. By knowing I don’t necessarily mean your audience demographics. I mean who they are and what are they looking for at that point in their purchase journey. Digital communications allows you to pinpoint your target audience, and the more you know about the better you can tailor your content to meeting their exact needs.

Here’s an example: Your potential customer is considering taking a trip. She is currently exploring various destinations. She will talk to friends and family, narrow down her choices and look at the costs involved in visiting those places. She will then contact various service providers and get cost estimates. Once she aligns these costs, and locations to her holiday goals (oh yes, they’re there!) with dates, she’ll discuss this her ideas with whomever she is travelling and then perhaps repeat steps 1, 2 and 3, until she finds the perfect combination of Location, Stay, Travel, Food, Sightseeing, Shopping, Miscellaneous. THEN she buys.

You are a travel service provider. You have a website, a blog, several social media channels and are wondering why this customer doesn’t respond to your messages of “Holidays at 50% off”. What you may have failed to notice is that you missed several dozens of opportunities to “get into the conversation” and on her radar.

 

Profile Your Customers for Every Stage

  • The Research-Oriented Customers: They need in a lot of information, places to travel.
  • The Cost-Conscious Customer: They want in terms of expenditure, where to travel by
  • The Whole Family Planner: They have kids and need something for everyone, where can they travel?
  • The DINKs (Double-Income No Kids): Adventurous? New? Off the beaten track? As long as it’s different!
  • Newly Retired Couples: Safe, Cost-effective, Sentimental? Better yet, are they planning this trip or are their kids planning it for them?

Bottomline? This list can be as extensive and insightful as you can have the patience to make it.

  • The Empty Nest Couple: How would their needs differ from the DINKs? Would they be interested in a literal trip down memory lane, or perhaps that cruise they were always planning by never found time for?

 

Define Your Content Categories

Now look at the kind of content you have or want to create. As a travel provider, you can talk about locations, special offers, seasonal holidays… look at everything you do for your customers. Do you help them plan their trips? Can you ensure they get the best deals? Each of these leverages your professional knowledge which can be translated into a category such as Informative, Tips, Seasonal, or Rare Events.

 

Look at your Content Tactics

Marketers today have a large variety of content types to play around with on different media. This is actually a great advantage to the savvy marketing director. Your content can be in the form of articles, guides, infographics, videos, podcasts, quizzes, posters, contests and more. There are literally hundreds of content marketing tactics out there for you to take advantage of. Start listing what works within your scope of resources and where you can bring freelancers in effectively.

 

Bringing it all Together

Now let’s take one of the above examples and see how we can bring all that information together:

THE DINK COUPLE

STAGES

ANSWERS

Notes

Who am I talking to?

The DINK Couple

Low hanging fruit, time and money to spend.

What’s my digital objective?

On-page Engagement from DINKs

Reach their peers as well, build brand awareness amongst this
demographic

What are they looking for?

Undiscovered weekend trips close to home.

(That’s only one answer. You can list dozens which will give a different
line of content.)

What can I tell them/show them/share with them?

Rank your favourite weekend destination in order of preference!

Generate topics for each of the above answers, based on the objective

How will they see this?

Set of posters, Infographic, Blog Post

We now have three pieces of content which can disperse on Twitter,
Facebook and blog

What would make this awesome?

Is there a facebook app to let users drag
and drop items in the list in their preferred sequence and publish it to
their Facebook page?

Can we use visuals with titles instead of listing destinations?

Can we link to our website pages for more information about each
place?

Can I make this a contest? Family Feud style… We asked 100 to rank
their favourite weekend destinations.

Play and post! This is my preference, what’s yours? Could this go
viral?

Visuals of destinations are way more attractive and would work as
cards for Twitter and Facebook

The blog post could link to web pages send some quality traffic

I can cross-promote the contest and offer one free all expenses trip,
could gain a lot of visibility, engagement AND leads!

Look at all those ideas! And that’s just one topic for one audience, at one point in their journey.

 

The Way Forward

Once you have all your audiences and a set of ideas for each, make your calendar. You want to alternate between objectives and ensure you have enough lead generating ideas around your seasonal lead times. Don’t forget to look at external holidays, trends, events and activities and another source of ideas for your audience.

Done right, a good content marketing plan can help you generate 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, while costing 62% less. You just need to change your way of thinking to incorporate all the new, exciting possibilities.

And don’t forget to measure what works against your original goals, so that you expand in those channels, audiences and content categories.

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