In line with my recent Shiny Object post, I thought I'd explore another argument in favor of B2B content marketing; namely improving the cost effectiveness of marketing. Considering that content marketing - done well - is a never-ending continuum, one of the obstacles for B2B marketers often times appears to be based on a cost-driven argument from the "con" perspective. Obviously, I've got a counter for that.
In comparison to one-off marketing initiatives such as trade shows and advertising placements and press releases and even short-term, sales-oriented campaigns, content marketing offers greater returns. And those returns can be tied pretty darn closely to revenues.
Here are a few reasons marketers should look at the cost of content marketing as an investment that will appreciate over time:
Content marketing is frontloaded.
If you're just starting out on a content marketing strategy, there is a lot of work to be done. This is amplified based on how many target segments or personas you're developing content for. It takes a while to see results that can be tied to business outcomes, so marketers may feel that the time, effort and money spent is not delivering the right payback. But it will.
If you're developing content to cover each stage of the buying process, you can be facing a big investment that will take time to create and publish. And, there are additional upfront costs to develop your strategy, personas, processes, skills and workflows, not to mention implementing the technology to support your efforts.
But once the foundation is in place, the sky is the limit. The upside for "doing" content marketing far outweighs the reasons you may come up with for not doing it. Consider your goals and then look at the different avenues you could choose to accomplish them. Lay out the costs and compare the pros and cons. The biggest considerations should play into the reasons below.
But as a quick example: If you choose to run an advertising campaign or attend a trade show, what happens after either one are over? Especially if you're selling a complex solution that has a longer buying cycle. I'm not saying don't do either of these, but I'm saying if you have to make a choice, content marketing will provide a better return in the long run.
Content marketing has "evergreen" qualities that payoff.
Well written content focused on helping prospects solve a problem your product addresses has long-term value. It's likely that your product wasn't developed to solve a fleeting problem but focused on a more chronic condition companies are experiencing - otherwise the company won't be around long. With this in mind, content developed around how to solve the problem(s) will remain valuable for a long time to come. Sure, it may need updating as the market and buyers change, but it will remain usable or re-inventable for a long time.
If your lead nurturing programs use "evergreen" content then you can feed new prospects in at touch one and keep this nurturing program running for longer periods of time with periodic refreshes and updates. In other words, unlike an advertising campaign that runs and is over, once you've created all the content for a nurturing program, it's possible to extend its value for several years.
As an example, I have one nurturing program that's been in place with a client for almost two years and continues to produce results. We're now getting a refresh underway to update the content and create a few new pieces to switch out that will address changes in their market environment.
Content marketing prompts business-relevant sales conversations.
It stands to follow that if you're creating content based on objectives, priorities and problems that your prospects care about, this content will lead to conversations around those topics.
It could just be me, but I'd rather receive a call from a telesales rep or salesperson who can speak competently about the topic I'm interested in than someone demonstrating cluelessness who calls and says "I saw you downloaded our whitepaper and just wanted to follow-up." Seriously! People still do this. There is no value to the person they're calling. It needs to stop.
Someone who downloads a white paper who is actually ready to speak with a salesperson is a minority. With that in mind, content marketing can help prompt conversations that deliver value to both sides and help buyers to qualify you as well as you to qualify them. It is a two-way street. Not sure why we seem to forget that...
Content marketing crosses channels, as well as tying them together.
Some kind of content is appropriate for creating valuable dialogue in every marketing channel. From blog posts to Tweets to articles, ebooks, white papers, webinars, videos, podcasts, infographics, and more, you can use one content asset in one channel as a jumping-off point for content in another. By linking topical or progression content together, you can actually help your buyers cross channels and experience content in ways that build deeper engagement, reach and responsiveness.
The secret here is that each link is a type of call to action that can produce momentum. Building connected pathways of related content across channels is a great way to gain more attention, build confidence in your buyers and help them shift from interested to intentional in their buying decision.
But the key here from a cost perspective is that any content you have can arguably be turned into another form of content that's appropriate for another channel. This introduces the content multiplier effect that helps reduce costs over the long term.
Finally, I could talk about cost effectiveness from many different ways, including shortening time to sales, improving the quality of leads that impacts sales acceptance, customer retention and loyalty, lower cost of customer, and others. Suffice it to say that content marketing can impact each of them.
I'd say that's worth thinking about. What do you think?
Also - what prompted this post is that I noticed that some of my posts from as far back as 2006 are still getting a lot of traffic. Some of that traffic is producing calls from potential clients. Do you have any past advertising campaigns that are still producing leads 6 years later?