If you’re a B2B tech company, venture capital or private equity firm, or any type of company for that matter, and you’re not increasing brand awareness with impactful customer-centric digital content, then it’s time to get started.
B2B thought leadership, when done well, significantly influences brand perception and buying behaviors throughout the entire decision process, according to a 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study from Edelman and LinkedIn. For VC firms, those with the strongest brand awareness among founders often have an edge over those who don’t.
Unfortunately, after what feels like years of inescapable references to the need for companies to publish “content,” business decision makers are drowning in it – and most of it is mediocre at best. Perhaps, you’re one of the many companies feeling a bit hungover from well intentioned but failed or failing content efforts – you’re not alone. How about kicking off 2022 with a clear head and clearer understanding of content – what it is and why it should matter to your company?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Content refers to the media used within a content strategy, such as videos, blogs, podcasts, infographics, social media, case studies, interviews, eBooks, white papers, etc.
So, why should content matter to your company?
Well, for starters, customers are already judging companies on their content regardless of whether they have a coherent content marketing strategy or not. Content has always had a place in how businesses communicate with customers. By utilizing content, brands set the bar for communication with customers, which traditionally has only featured companies sharing what they deemed to be important.
Today, content – strategic and well thought out content – is about engaging with customers and potential customers – and the content focus is about what matters to them.
From the get-go, content is about the customer’s experience with your brand.
According to IDC 2021 Customer Engagement Research, tech professionals are seeking more relevant, reliable and specific educational resources throughout each stage of the tech purchase process than ever before as they explore solutions.
Key research takeaways:
- 72% of tech buyers are more likely to consider an IT vendor who educates them through each stage of the decision process.
- IT decision-makers are spending more time engaging with online content as 49% are increasing the amount of time they read online and 47% are increasing the amount of time they watch videos online.
- Two-thirds of tech buyers say that the vendor who responds to questions in a quick and thoughtful manner usually gets the business.
Thanks to the internet, the consumption of content has risen exponentially, as has self-service, with consumers searching the internet for the content they need to research and evaluate products prior to purchasing.
Hand Over the Reins
We’ve come a long way from traditional marketing, where manufacturers and brands were the overlords, the decision makers for what content customers needed, and, more accurately, what products and services brands wanted to sell.
Today, content isn’t an ego-centric exercise – it’s a customer-centric exercise. It’s about value, and the customer is setting the bar. When a brand puts out content, it should say: we are here for you, we are thinking about you and/or your business, we are here to answer your questions, to help you make a product decision, or maximize product ROI.
A piece of content is offered in service to the customer, to answer a question or help resolve a pain point. Content is not about selling your customers more stuff but helping them get more value from the products and services they already bought from you, or it’s about providing the information that helps them along their buying journey. Ultimately, customer-driven content, as part of a positive customer experience, is what will draw in the customer, and perhaps inspire them to buy from your company, or buy from your company again.
As for reaching potential customers, getting out your brand’s name as a company that prioritizes the customer, is the kind of consumer engagement that potential customers will be drawn to when they are ready to make a purchase.
Not Just Any Old Content will Do
The volume of content that companies put out is not a measure of the quality of that content. Quality content requires thought and consideration and is led by the customer – the rest is just noise.
The IDC research found that 90% of respondents say that it is challenging to find high quality content, up from 86% in 2019. The Edelman – LinkedIn survey found that 71% of decision makers say that less than half of the thought leadership they consume gives them valuable insights and that there’s a glut of low-quality thought leadership content.
When we say, brand communication is being led by the customer that is not the same as brands lagging behind the customer. Customers expect brands to know what they’re thinking and what they want. For that, companies need to know who their audience is and what types of stories, what insights, will be compelling and provide value for that specific audience. Content that targets a select audience signals to that audience that they have your attention, that they are important and that you, the company, recognize that this unique customer has unique questions, problems, concerns, etc.
This is a customer-centric approach to content – targeted content, a variety of content, and a consistent flow of content – this is what your customers expect to keep them interested and engaged with your brand. Smart, purposeful, optimized content is a customer relationship building strategy that all businesses need to drive their company forward in 2022.
[Stay tuned for our follow up article on, Three Next Steps: Content Assessment, Audience, and Purpose)