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Content marketing: when sharing beats selling

by | May 14, 2020 | Expertise

The term “content marketing” is a term that has gained increased currency in recent years. But it’s more than just a buzzword. Indeed, content marketing has become an important part of the marketing mix for many B2B companies, including a number of Cleveland Design clients.

But what exactly is content marketing and how does it help organizations achieve their business goals? To answer those questions and to explore how content marketing can work for you, we spoke to our resident writer, Andy Paul.

Let’s start with the basics. What is content marketing?

Put simply, it is a marketing approach that involves delivering to customers and prospects content that is relevant, meaningful and useful to them. This content is not focused on “selling” the reader on your product or service, but rather on nurturing interest and/or trust in your brand, creating a connection that ultimately will lead to sales and foster brand loyalty.

Why the increased focus on content marketing now?

Today, the customer is in the driver seat. Bombarded by a continuous stream of marketing messages, people have developed well-honed filters to weed out sales messages—except those from brands they identify with and trust. At the same time, they have an insatiable appetite for content that entertains or educates about topics that interest them. This is true for both consumer and business audiences, because people are people. Content marketing is designed to satisfy this appetite, positioning the brand as a reliable source of engaging and useful information.

How does content marketing fit into the overall marketing strategy?

In most cases, content marketing is considered a “top of funnel” (capturing new prospects) or “middle of the funnel” (nurturing prospects) activity. This is distinct from “bottom of the funnel” marketing focused on conversion. But a well-managed content marketing strategy is also valuable for maintaining customer relationships after conversion. As people keep coming back for quality content, their relationship with the brand is reinforced. So it’s really an ongoing process.

Can you give an example of a content marketing strategy in practice?

Absolutely. Our clients CompuMark, Derwent and MarkMonitor, all part of Clarivate Analytics, have robust content marketing campaigns. These brands all serve intellectual property (IP) professionals and brand owners, who work in a complex landscape of continually evolving market, technology and regulatory dynamics. Cleveland Design has partnered with them to create an integrated program of content—including articles, webinars and reports—that help these IP professionals keep pace with their changing landscape and gain knowledge they can use to serve their companies and clients more effectively. In many cases, content is gleaned from interviews we conduct with our clients’ customers, then turning their insights into engaging learning experiences that focus on sharing—not selling.

The consumers of this content walk away with new knowledge and insights… and a stronger sense of Clarivate as a trusted source of valuable information. Both parties win.

How do you know when a content marketing strategy is successful?

It’s important to recognize that content marketing isn’t a “one shot” deal; it’s an ongoing approach to connecting with your audience that must be sustained over time. Tracking downloads of content and analyzing that information against lead generation data can give you a good sense of which types of content are delivering business value over time.

For marketers focused on the number of “impressions” they are achieving, attracting more than 600 attendees to a webinar and keeping their attention for an hour—as a recent CompuMark webinar did—is strong evidence that you’re on the right track.

What’s the key to creating effective content?

Three words: Know your audience. What are they curious about? What are they worried about? What new shifts in business or technology do they need to learn about to avoid falling behind? Are there new market opportunities they may be missing out on? Most conscientious business people are hungry for this information—as long as it delivers what it promises.

And don’t forget the visual aspects. No matter what media you’re reaching them with, do you have graphics and design that bring the content to life? Studies have shown that people consume visual information much quicker than written text—and remember it far longer.

Content marketing is all about giving your audience something of value in order to gain their interest, their trust and, ultimately, their business. If you’re selling today, you need to be sharing, too.

Ready to make content marketing a productive part of your marketing mix?