Taking content seriously as a marketing tool

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B-to-b marketing professionals, including those in the technology industry, routinely rate content-driven activities, such as their Web site, Webcasts and white papers, as their most effective means of generating qualified sales leads. Yet these activities currently represent less than 25% of their total marketing spend-about the same portion allocated to the least effective lead-generation tools.

This paradox-less spending being allocated to the most effective tools-is largely explained by the lack of a content strategy at most b-to-b marketing organizations. A content strategy puts the emphasis on the content instead of focusing exclusively on the marketing delivery vehicles that disseminate it.

In most organizations, there is no explicit budget devoted to creating content because most marketing professionals are pursuing, either explicitly or implicitly, a delivery vehicle marketing strategy.

A content strategy places the emphasis in the right place by concentrating on prospects or customers and their content and information needs.

Content marketing calls for the segmentation of customers and prospects into distinct audiences defined by their stage in the buying cycle and their role in the buying decision. Bitpipe calls this the "content matrix."

Here's how technology marketers, for instance, apply a content matrix and a content marketing methodology: They create content that meets the information needs of specific prospect groups, such as CIOs or IT professionals, at different points in the buying cycle. Once this mapping of content to audience is determined, appropriate marketing vehicles can be chosen to deliver the most appropriate audience.

Technology marketers are now discovering the use of a content strategy and content marketing are powerful methods for acquiring and nurturing contacts, which in turn become valuable qualified sales leads in the IT enterprise-buying cycle.

After all, b-to-b buyers are always searching for valuable, in-depth content to support their buying decisions. While standard "low content" advertising messages are increasingly failing to gain attention, focused and highly relevant content available on demand online is hitting home.

So next time someone says, "Let's write a white paper for this direct mail campaign" or "We need more leads, let's do a Webcast," stop and set a content strategy. Use a content matrix and content marketing to deliver the right leads from the right people at the right time in the buying cycle.

Jay Habegger is CEO, Bitpipe Inc., Boston. He can be reached at [email protected]

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