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Give your Content Marketing a much needed M.o.T

By James Smee

Consistent compelling content chalk board image

In brief

  • Content marketing is now an industry in its own right
  • In 2015 82% of B2B Marketers will have a formal content marketing strategy
  • Content saturation will reach unprecedented heights in 2015
  • Most B2B marketers need to 'change up' their approach
  • Defining your audience personas is essential
  • Personalisation, at the most basic level, is critical
  • Content is about an experience not just a 1-dimensional exchange
  • Inject your content with a 'M.o.T - Moment of Truth'

we're all at it...

To be honest most of us have been at it for some time we just didn't have a name for it until recently. Content Marketing is now an industry obsession; in the last couple of years it has been the focus for a huge amount of debate and conjecture.  What's good? What's bad? What is it?  Job titles have been re-written to accommodate it and marketing agencies have popped up as 'specialists' in it.   We have an entire technology micro-industry (marketing automation) dedicated to supporting it.

All this noise has helped give rise to an ever changing and bountiful toolkit for us to (attempt to) execute our content marketing fantasies.  In social media we have a medium that gives us a plethora of channels to publish to, in addition to the 'old school' approaches such as email (which still remains a stalwart of the digital comms mix).  How content can be served both in terms of features and format is again wide-ranging.  Video, web, app, blog, social, etc. are all viable vehicles to house our lovely content.   And when we're not obsessing about it in our jobs we do it in our spare time, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Twitter are all now largely predicated on people sharing content.

82% of UK B2B Marketers now have a formal Content Marketing Strategy

OK.  Hopefully you get my rather obvious point.  Content Marketing is a big deal.  BUT, herein lies the challenge.  With a reported 82% of UK B2B Marketers now have a formal Content Marketing Strategy (Marketing Profs, Dec, 2014) content saturation is set to reach unprecedented levels in 2015.  A lot of us are already 'content blind' in one eye so how do you ensure your content gets spied by the remaining good one?

Here's a 3-point guide to delivering game changing content in 2015:

1# Keep it real and keep it relevant - Persona Definition:

A lot of content is now delivered indirectly via digital channels but this doesn't negate the need to think about the human being at the receiving end.  In fact, all and everything to do with your content should revolve around them.  Their needs, wants, motivations and behaviors.  B2B marketers are often guilty of ignoring this basic marketing, 101 principle and are happy to base their entire persona strategy on a 30 minute 'chat' with the Head of Sales.  "Yeah, our customers just want to hear how great we are and get a jolly to the footy every now and then".  No, Mr Head of Sales, that would be you.

Persona definition doesn't need to be an onerous or overly expensive process.  We work with our clients to use the tools they already have in place to help them drive persona insight (web analytics, CRM, marketing automation, email platforms, etc).  From here we can validate this through, more often than not, relatively basic customer/prospect research exercises.  The end result is a well-informed, 3-dimensional and visual representation of the real people our clients need to engage with.  We even go as far as printing out large format persona cards and slapping them up on the walls of our client's marketing departments as a continual reminder of the real people the content marketing strategy needs to embrace, inspire and add value to. Below are 3 examples of some persona 'top trump' cards that we've used as part of a client's content strategy.

Persona card image the tech head
Persona card image the visionary
Persona card image the box ticker

If you get this right then you open up the big ticket opportunities around personalisation.  For example, through a number of the leading CMS and marketing automation platforms (Sitecore, Sitefinity, Eloqua, etc) you can configure them to intelligently deliver persona driven, dynamic content based on how an individual is using a website, app or other digital property.

Side story

2# Creating a content experience - part 1

B2B marketers need to carefully think through all of the elements that make up the end user's experience when it comes to consuming their content.  How did they find it? Why did they find it? From what device? What's the end goal / conversion? What's the take away?

It's important to acknowledge that B2B audiences now expect and demand more from the content they find and receive.  With the lines well and truly blurred between the private and the professional the richer experiences served up by B2C brands (sweeping generalisation) need to be matched in B2B to stand a chance of getting that all important cut through.

Please see the 'side story' (to your right) for a real life, anecdotal example of where a B2B brand fell well short in meeting my expectations.

Side story

For example, last week I received a highly personalised and punchy email from Nike informing me that the 'LunarGlide 6' running shoe was now released (I'd previously bought a pair of LunarGlide 5's).  I clicked through to a rich and immersive product microsite made up of video and interactive content that within 60 seconds communicated, at an emotional and rational level, why my life would only get better if I owned said pair of trainers. Of course, in my head, I translated all of this to mean these trainers would instantly catapult me to the level of Mo Farah with no additional training.

After parting with £105 of hard-earned cash I bounced into my emails and immediately spotted an email from one of the world's foremost technology brands.  I opened the generic, non-personalised and overly verbose email (not a great start) which was promoting a thought leadership piece that had recently been published.  I clicked through to a page of PDF downloads within their main website.  No explanation, no instructions, no help.  Just a library of uniform PDF icons with title text keeping each one company.  After 10 seconds I finally located the content of interest, 8 seconds later the 10mb file downloaded.  I opened it.  My reward was 12 pages of long, flat content made up of approximately 5,000 words.  As interesting and relevant as the subject matter was to me there was not a cat in hell's chance of me getting a window - both mental and time based - to read that.

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2 # Creating a content experience - part 2

I'm not suggesting B2B brands need to start trying to replicate what a Nike or a Pepsi are doing.  That would neither be affordable or relevant.  It's about taking some of the tactical essence as to why a lot of their content works so well and adapting this to work effectively in your own content universe.

Think about how you can use a mix of content types to bring it to life - a picture speaks a thousand words and a video will typically do a whole lot more than that.  Use interactive (see M.o.T's below) elements to give your content a truly conversational feel and elevate the experience above the content status quo.  If you're trying to educate people then it's been widely proven that 'doing' is a darn sight more effective than simply reading.

3 # The All Important M.o.T

MOT = Moment of Truth. The point at which the penny drops and the journey through your content edges over the all-important tipping point into the realm of true and meaningful engagement. This moment can come in many forms. It can be a summary which brings a thought piece to a meaningful close, an infographic that visually articulates a piece of research, an interactive video that educates and entertains, personalised and interactive microsites, interactive business case builders... the list goes on. My point being that if you genuinely want your content to get that stand out, you need to think about injecting it with these moments of magic, these moments of truth where your content elevates itself above the noise, grabs hold of its audience by the hand and walks them through your front door.


If you've read through this and none of the points made strike a chord then I salute you and furthermore I'd like to extend a virtual hand of congratulations because you are very much in the elite minority.  If however, all or some of this piece has stirred you into thinking 'we need to get and be better' then we'd love to have a conversation with you.



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