When implemented successfully, a demand generation program can effectively help your company tap into new markets, drum up qualified sales leads and, of course, engage your existing customers for some good old-fashioned organic business growth. While a demand generation program can take many forms, today’s Business-to-Business (B2B) marketers are increasingly looking toward content marketing strategies and tactics as a better way to engage, educate, inform, and entertain their prospective buyers.
According to Spiceworks’ B2B Content Marketing Spotlight report, lead generation is by far the number one goal of content marketing, followed closely by thought leadership and market education. B2B marketers are using everything from white papers to videos, and are effectively using content to build “buzz” for their brands, products, and services. In fact, the number one content marketing tactic used by brands is corporate blogging, followed by social media and customer case studies.
Let’s not forget that developing great content is only the first step for marketers. Step two is determining the right time to distribute that high-value content. If done right, great content—content that is both relevant and compelling to the targeted audience—can help a prospective buyer better connect with your brand and, in turn, move that potential buyer further along on his or her customer journey.
Take a look at Martino Flynn’s recent infographic, Content Marketing for B2B Demand Generation, and you’ll see an illustration that shows the impact of distributing the right content at the right time during the customer journey. Let’s now dive into the key takeaways:
- In Phase 1 of the customer journey and, ultimately, the buying process, prospects are simply defining their business needs. While a “hard sell” isn’t appropriate during this phase, brands can focus on creating and distributing content that generates greater brand awareness.
In this earlier stage, marketers often use social media channels to publish branded videos, articles and infographics. If prospect information is available, company newsletters and eBlasts are also common practices. Numerous brands also dip their toes into traditional public relations and look to secure bylined articles and interview opportunities to garner media attention.
- In Phase 2, prospective buyers have already identified their needs and are now proactively evaluating both potential solutions and new suppliers. In this stage, marketers should be leveraging their websites, landing pages, and online presence to attract prospects and provide them with a deeper understanding of its products and service offerings.
Tactics such as webinars, case studies, eBooks, and white papers are perfect tools to educate buyers and provide product information in a “soft sell” kind of way. They can be easily passed along to the decision-makers when the prospects near their purchasing decision. Press releases and aggressive media pitching efforts can also help brands earn impactful media coverage to keep their solutions top of mind.
- In Phase 3, it’s all about closing the deal. Prospective buyers have clearly identified their needs, have researched solutions, and are ready to finalize their purchasing and supplier decisions. Direct content is generally the most effective tactic in this phase because prospects are often in search of long-term partnerships, not just one-time vendors.
During this last phase, marketers should focus heavily on interactions, including trade show appointments and in-person sales meetings. A little face time can go a long way at this stage of the decision-making process. In addition, product demonstrations can be influential in helping prospects realize the value of choosing a particular solution, while customer testimonials can help them understand the value you bring as a partner. Return On Investment (ROI) and pricing data are also major factors in the purchasing decision, so ensure that any content developed during this phase focuses on the financial advantages of choosing your company.
It’s clear that branded content can be pivotal in moving a prospect further into the new business pipeline. Yet the most common content marketing challenge is finding enough time and resources to create and distribute that high-value content. That’s where we come in.
Contact Jenny LePore at email@example.com to learn more about Martino Flynn’s full-service agency capabilities. We’ll help you strategize the most effective content marketing plan to fuel your new business efforts.