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Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing

“Stop Selling Ships. Start Selling Destinations.” Reflections on Content Marketing

“Stop selling ships.  Start selling destinations”

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?   But what does it mean?  I pulled this quote from a B2B Marketing Forum which I attended two weeks ago in Boston, sponsored by Marketing Profs. It was, in essence, the overall theme of the conference – offer value beyond product.    Across every industry, B2B Marketers are discovering new ways to capture and engage their audience.

For today,  I will focus on the  hottest topic at this year’s conference:  Content Marketing.  The message was loud and clear — B2B Marketing organizations everywhere are shifting from traditional “push marketing” tactics to telling stories that matter to their customers.

So what “is” Content Marketing, anyway?

“Content marketing is the art of understanding exactly what your customers need to know and delivering it to them in a relevant and compelling way to grow your business.”  – Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute

Again, sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?  Just like you might be doing, I asked myself:  “What does this actually mean, what’s in it for us (in the healthcare marketing space) and how can we make it happen”? I thought a lot about this, read articles, blog posts, talked to colleagues – and went to conferences.  Now, I’d like to share with you some highlights of Content Marketing that resonated with me:

What keeps your customers up at night?

This is all about identifying your customer’s pain points.  Every great content story starts with having an intricate understanding of customer segments, and tailoring messages accordingly.  Make it relevant – help them solve a problem and create great content around it.  Then, make the content easy to find for your audience.

Think of the customer’s journey toward selecting a vendor

Consider the pathway your customers take toward purchasing decisions.  Are they researching online or relying on their peers?   It’s about gaining a deeper understanding of how your customers research potential vendors / suppliers and what information they require at each stage of their process.

What questions will they have along the journey?

While a customer is researching your business and consuming your content, they will inevitably have questions along the way.  How can we anticipate their questions and concerns, and provide answers to those questions at the right time and in the right way? It goes back to knowing what your customers care about – and facilitating ongoing collaboration.

This includes talking to customer service, talking to sales representative – all key stakeholders – and identifying those key customer questions and documenting them.

Answer those questions with … (wait for it)….CONTENT!

At the end of the day it’s about answering our customer’s questions with valuable, relevant information.  Information that helps them solve a problem, makes their jobs easier or helps them make an informed decision.   The following quote says it best:

“It’s About Telling Stories That Matter.  This is much more than offering product information, but rather it extends into providing best practices, case studies, success stories, thought leadership, and more. Once you have delivered relevant content, you become a trusted resource. Content marketing enables companies to build a level of trust among their customers that makes it easy for those customers to buy. This is easy to say but hard to do because it almost certainly means changing the way you think and act about marketing.”   – Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute

Very well said.

Content Marketing is really about building trust

While product-specific marketing materials are also important, it is vital to develop content that positions your company as a thought leader and a trusted partner. The trust comes from your ability to bring success to your customers by answering their questions and addressing their pain points.  Sound a little soft?  I get that.  I often have to remind myself that B2B purchase decisions are still emotional ones.  They are still consumers, at the end of the day – looking for a brand they can trust.  Just as we are.

Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on Content Marketing – I’m interested to hear from you.

Do you believe that Content Marketing is the right approach for your business?

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About Katreena Passarello

Content Marketing Evangelist

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