Before accusations of heredity start’s flying my way I just want to clarify a few things.
I am a believer of content marketing and lay forth this article as my proof. Research indicates it costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. And we experience first hand that it generates new possibilities of engagement, leads, SEO optimisation, thought leadership, clarity of thought etc. etc etc.
The content marketing gospel we dig!
But it isn’t enough on its own, to run an effective marketing lead generation machine. The Content Marketing gospel only tells 1/3rd of the B2B inbound marketing story and it is time the other 2/3rd stories were told just as clearly.
Although not as sexy as “creative-story-telling-to-engage” content marketing, they are of equal importance to make the demand creation machine run smooth.
In the name of The Content, The Process and The System. Amen
I am not a religious man so I couldn’t tell you which is the father, son and holy spirit. I think in biblical therms they are all the same anyway? We’ll, not in B2B Inbound Marketing, here they are only connected, albeit very tightly. You’ve got content, that fits into lead generation process, that is supported by a system, in this case, the Marketing Automation Platform.
There must be hundreds of how to guides and books on this one. I like Joe Pulizzi’s Content Inc. and Epic Content Marketing, The Story Engine by Kyle Gray, Content Strategy Toolkit by Meghan Casey for the system of content creation and distribution and Ann Handley’s “Everybody Writes”, for the writing itself. And maybe I just like those because I’ve been too lazy to ready many more books on the topic?
Here are 3 key aways:
(1) Have someone in mind when you’re making content (for example, I’m thinking you are a Commercial Excellence Program Head, Marketing Director or Small business owner).
(2) Understand their tasks, pains, interests and concerns (for example, I think you need to generate more leads and are interested in how to use content, digital channels and tools to do it, but concerned it is too difficult to get started and operate it).
(3) Find your “content-sweet spot”, that combined your knowledge, passion and a unique twist to generate helpful, engaging and interesting content that is read, used, engaged with and shared (for example, B2B Marketing + Making presentations (illustration above made by yours truly) + a twist of religion to spice things up).
Marketing used to be neat and straight forward but not so much anymore. Now it more resembles the supply chain of an auto manufacturer (i.e. complex)
Last February Thomas Bauer, Jason Heller, Jeffrey Jacobs, and Rachael Schaffner from McKinsey wrote about the importance of managing agency relations in more complex world of taking ideas to market.
It used to be quite straight forward but had now become an “interconnected ecosystem of ideas, content management and constant engagement”
This is exactly the same for lead generation!
It used to be done by creating a few big ads and campaigns, stands at events and then have the website and customer service ready to take calls when the demand came in (rough said..)
But now the amount of potential customer touch points have exploded exponentially with an increase in types of content, distribution channels and media platforms, device types etc.
This means you need a clear understanding of what your process looks like for creating, capturing and nurturing leads.
3 steps to get you started:
- Take a big whiteboard and create the 3 stages of create, capture & nurture
- Take posts its and write down the content you have to drive digital demand creation (1 piece of content per post it) and put them into each of the 3 categories, depending on their purpose (i.e. blog posts X to create interest -> How to guide Y to capture contact information and Newsletter Z to nurture demand).
- Draw connections between the pieces of content to map out the flow.
It should become clear where you are missing content to help potential buyers forward in addressing their pains and where you are leaving them in “dead ends” (i.e. no call to action)
You have the greatest content in the world, distributed and loved widely, generating leads left and right through a complex web of lead generation touch points, made on a whiteboard with post-its and markers.
Unfortunately you manage the demand in an excel sheet and end up dropping all the leads on the floor and overwhelmed, going down with stress over the sheer amount of work.
You need a system! With the kind of complexity in today’s lead generation environment you absolutely need a Marketing Automation Platform! If you don’t have one working right now, get one (FYI, we can help you with that, wink wink).
Here are 3 reasons you want it (simplified):
- You can track who’s interested and tailor actions accordingly: If someone visits my site and is interested in Digital Demand Creation, I’m not going to talk about sales coaching with that person. Your Marketing Automation Platform gives you the ability to tailor communication based on who they are and what they are doing.
- You can automate actions: If a potential customer does something that merits and action from us, you can automate that action so there is no risk that Chris, the marketing intern, forgets or that he has to spend his valuable time doing it manually. If someone downloads a whitepaper from your site, it automatically triggers a predefined workflow and is executed on, depending on who the potential customer is and how he/she is engaging with you.
- You can test and measure and prove ROI: It’s digital, so everything is measured and you can track which actions had what effect. Furthermore, you can do split tests (A/B tests) to continuously refine on your lead generation engine and experiment your way to greater ROI.
I’m a firm believer in Content Marketing but even more so in the Holy Trinity of Digital Demand Creation to create a consistent B2B lead generation engine.