Corporations will often spend millions on developing content for their intellectual capital and case studies. But unfortunately, a lot of it goes to waste because it never reaches prospects and clients. The fact is that one of the most important elements in acquiring new customers and deepening existing relationships is content that demonstrates what your company has to offer.
While traditional advertising says what you can do, content-driven advertising activates your brand by inviting your audience to sample and participate in your brand's service. And this is exactly what c-level executives are looking for more of. One recent study showed that 52% of c-suite executives watch work-related videos on YouTube at least once a week. But more importantly, 65% of these senior executives will visit a company website after watching the video.
For B2B marketers, the scary part is getting started. It's a big pivot to move from creating advertising messages to creating in-depth content that is compelling, accessible, and sharable. There are an infinite number of content opportunities available today for marketers, but the weight of making the right decisions can be overwhelming.
There is no single solution or formula for success. But ultimately, everyone should begin with thinking about their target audience. Who are the decision makers that you're trying to reach? What's important to them? Who and what influence them? Where do they go now for information?
Once you've figured out what your audience wants to see, you can start thinking about what kind of content to produce. Much of that content probably already exists in raw form within your company. But before you publish it, there are guidelines you'll want to follow.
1) Make it compelling. Great content requires storytelling that connects with your customers on both a rational and emotional level. To make it compelling, you need to put the same rigor and passion into your thought leadership that you put into your paid advertising. Tap creative storytellers to come up with an interesting script and breathtaking visuals - make your content exciting so that your prospects and consumers will want to engage with it.
A great example of this can be found in SAP's Run Better customer testimonials. Instead of just aggregating quotes, they feature beautifully shot videos on their website where their clients tell the story of how the SAP brand solved a significant business challenge.
Another example is IBM's content in support of their Smarter Planet and Centennial platforms - a plethora of compelling videos, employee-written stories, and more that bring their brand's purpose to life.
2) Make it accessible. Don't let your content get trapped within the four walls of your organization. In addition to posting great content on your website, push it out on the other channels that your audience is following - from broad news outlets and business publications to industry specific websites; from vast social networks to exclusive discussion communities and client extranets. You need to push content to wherever the prospect and client eyeballs are for it to get the ROI that it deserves.
3) Make it shareable. Word of mouth is the ultimate form of marketing. If you're putting in the effort to make compelling content, you should make it easy for your customers to share that great work with their colleagues. If one executive (or influencer) sees your content, they'll share it within their organization. In fact, the same study I referenced earlier shows that more than 50% of senior executives share work-related videos with their colleagues on a weekly basis. So make it easy for them to do so. Both SAP and IBM make their content easily sharable via email and social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
4) Make it versatile. Create economies of scale by producing content for multiple mediums. Think about the different kinds of content that you can create for your web site, online media properties, and even broadcast. Length is just one important element here. While long-form video is increasing in popularity, if you have a 30-minute case study or webcast it's advisable to break it up into navigable chapters so that your audience easily peruse through and watch what they find most interesting. You can also create a brief 1-2 minute "trailer" as a lead in.
Jump in now! The opportunities are endless for activating your brand, generating leads and connecting with customers are endless. But it's easy to stagnate under the weight of so much opportunity. Many are waiting for the rules to be written and for best practices to be established. The fact is, the rules are already being broken and the best practices redefined continually. Those who are jumping in are gaining competitive advantage. So if you haven't started creating content for your customers, you need to dive in. Think big, start small, live in beta. But don't just take my word for it -- listen to CMOs who are leading the way.