Content marketing? Do I really need it? If you're running the marketing and leadgen operations at an SMB, that thought has probably crossed your mind.
You might have also figured that, well, maybe you're not the biggest brand on the block. But you've built up a tidy little B2B outfit over the years, with a lot of heart, sweat and soul plugged into it.
All that fancy "inbound marketing" and "content" stuff you see in the marketing trades, or some digital agency rep keeps trying to sell you on, or your hotshot brother-in-law's kid with the MBA harps about -- that's fine for the big dogs. You haven't got the bandwidth, the bodies or the budget, and besides...what real good would it do you anyhow? Would it ever be able to take the place of a level look in the eye and a firm handshake?
Of course not. But then again, how many hands are you getting to shake? How many first, second or third looks are you getting from prospects you don't get to meet face-to-face?
Those big dogs are investing in content marketing for a reason: it works. And it works on a lot of levels that are changing the landscape of B2B marketing, even -- especially -- for small companies.
Are you changing to keep up? Because if you're not, you're likely getting left behind. Not just by the big guys, but by other SMBs in your segment who are adopting content marketing as a mission-critical element of their overall awareness, sales and CRM arsenal.
So here are just a few of the reasons why having a content marketing strategy can be make-or-break for B2B entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Reason #1: Content is a smarter way to spend your money
"Hey," you might say, "I'm already dropping a pretty good amount on PPC and other stuff. So show me why I should do any different?"
Take a look at just this single study, comparing the results of PPC versus a dedicated content marketing program.
Content marketing may start out slower, but over the course of time, you get more traction than PPC. Why? Because you're getting better search rankings, better word-of-mouth, and generally greater organic awareness. People aren't responding to you because you're pushing messages in their face, but because they're "discovering" you themselves, or find their way via a trusted source.
Want one more bell-ringer of a reason to adjust your spending? Another study by Customer Magnetism found that when you cut a PPC budget, your traffic disappears. When you cut a content budget, you keep getting a steady amount of traffic. Even without new content or the promotion behind it. Of course, that's after having mounted a quality CM program in the first place.
Why? It's because your content is still "out there" -- in search engine rankings, in places where you've syndicated it, being backlinked or cited by influencers. So your investment keeps paying...and paying...and paying.
Reason #2: Your prospects want it
This 2016 report found that 51% of B2B buyers depend on content to research buying decisions.
That's a trend that's not going to reverse itself. So if you're lacking in content, that might indicate any of several things to the prospect who's looking for it:
- You're not substantial enough of an enterprise to create and share useful information
- You're behind the times and at the back of the field
- You don't give a flip
None of those work in your favor, right?
A few other key stats from that study:
- 73% of those surveyed looked at a case study during their research
- 96% wanted content with more input from industry thought leaders
- 47% looked at 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep
What kind do they want? Shorter, interactive material that doesn't sell, but educates.
Reason #3: Blog it and they (the leads) will come!
When you create content on a regular and frequent basis, it'll drive leads -- that's the long and the short of it. Hubspot pulled data from its 13,500+ customers, and the correlation between blogging frequency and lead generation was unequivocal. The more you post, the more inbound traffic you pull to your site.
But for smaller companies it gets even better: Small firms that publish 11 or more posts per month drove far higher traffic than similar-sized companies that published fewer than 11 posts -- 3 times that of those who did zero to 1 posts per month, and double that of those publishing 2-5 posts per month.
As for how that traffic translates into leads?
Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published between 0 - 4 monthly posts.
Companies with 1 - 25 employees got the biggest bang from publishing 11+ posts a month, getting twice the leads of firms doing 6-10. Companies with 26 - 200 employees that posted 11 times or more a month saw 2.5 times as many leads as those who did just 0-3 posts.
Reason #4: Be an authority, not an afterthought
Call it the 5 plumbers analogy: If there are 5 plumbers in town, but only one of these dishes out free advice and useful information, who's the one who's clearly got the know-how to install that new jacuzzi I ordered? Right -- it's the plumber who made a display of their knowledgeability.
But remember, there's a key to being seen as an authoritative source: the quality of what you're putting out there.
A study by the Association of Management Consulting Firms found that 93% those surveyed said high-quality content raised their opinion of that consulting firm. But 94% said poor content lowered their opinion. So make sure it's useful, innovative and informative content ...not just recycled filler.
Your team undoubtedly has a huge reservoir of expertise and experience to draw on that makes for compelling content. Share it freely, and watch the leads flow in.