Not sure what content marketing is? A quick definition: Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. (Source: Junta42)
Note the bold terms – relevant and valuable, clearly defined and understood target audience, profitable customer action.
These three areas are the most critical parts of content marketing, but are often not delved into deeply enough by BtoB marketing pros. During my initial discussions with clients about their content marketing strategy or a specific piece of content they want me to produce, most have a general idea of who they are marketing to, what is valuable, and what action they want the audience to take. But as we discuss these areas further and go into detail, many clients either can’t describe specifics or they make assumptions, both of which can lead to failure.
In order to succeed with content marketing, B2B marketers should focus on those three key areas and avoid these 10 big mistakes:
Mistake #1: Not Developing Buyer Personas
Once you’ve determined the target audiences you want to influence, develop “buyer personas” for each target group. A buyer persona is a detailed profile of an example buyer that represents the real audience – their goals, concerns, preferences, and decision process that influence their choices. Developing buyer personas helps you understand exactly who you are marketing to, and therefore what content will be most valuable to them.
Mistake #2: Not Understanding the Needs of the Audience
If you want people to read your content it should be about them, not about you. If your content provides practical, helpful knowledge to the reader that they can use to solve a problem or make their lives better, they will continue to read it and recommend it to others.
However, if your content reads like an advertisement and lacks useful information they will leave and not come back. Rely on your buyer personas and free online ‘listening posts’ such as Google Alerts and Twitter to figure out what is (and is not) interesting and helpful.
Mistake #3: Failure to Plan
Plan out content in advance and you won’t have to rush to get content out. Set up an editorial calendar including topics, writing deadlines, publishing deadlines, promotion deadlines, who each piece of content is assigned to, and any other information that keeps the process organized and manageable.
Mistake #4: Lack of Focus on a Niche
With so much information freely available on the Internet, you need to stand out by focusing on a niche that interests your buyer personas. This enables you to demonstrate and share your unique knowledge and attract a dedicated audience.
Mistake #5: Not Keeping Content Fresh
Once or twice a year, do a “content audit” to determine what content is still relevant and up-to-date, and what videos, white papers, case studies, customer interviews, articles, and other information needs to be refreshed. You can also refine your content based on feedback from readers.
It’s also important to keep publishing new, original content on a regular basis in order to attract a dedicated audience.
Mistake #6: Not Asking for Help
Many companies rely solely on their internal marketing or PR staff to do everything involved with content marketing. But based on my own experience while managing marketing and PR for a multiple B2B software companies, these people have many other responsibilities that often push developing content strategies and creating the content itself to the back burner and it can take weeks or months to accomplish one white paper or article. Almost all businesses can afford to partner with an independent consultant or writer that has expertise in content that is important to their audiences.
Mistake #7: Giving Up on Content Marketing Too Soon
It takes time to build a real relationship with your audiences and develop a loyal following. Some companies start a blog, newsletter, or other tactic and expect to see fantastic results in three months. It doesn’t usually work that way. But stay with it, and your patience will be rewarded!
Mistake #8: Not Integrating Content Marketing with Overall Marketing
In some companies, a corporate newsletter, magazine, articles contributed to other publications, and similar content are done separately from other marketing initiatives like the company website, blog, and events. Integrating all of these initiatives so they support each other is extremely powerful.
Mistake #9: Forgetting Search Engine Optimization
Your content strategy really pays off when it appears in the first few pages of Google, Yahoo, and Bing search engine results. This will drive many more people to your content, at no additional cost. However, for this to happen you need to optimize your content and its landing pages so the search engines can find them and rank them. Receiving links from other websites and blogs to your content is also key to receiving high search engine rankings.
Mistake #10: Using Social Media as a Bullhorn Instead of a Two-Way Radio
Social media isn’t a medium for simply promoting your company and content, without interacting with others and sharing helpful information that you didn’t create but may help someone you’re connected to. If you use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media avenues simply to toot your own horn, you are missing an invaluable opportunity to get closer to your key audiences and begin to better understand their needs.
Kim Cornwall Malseed, principal at MarCom Ink [http://www.marcomink.com], has over a decade of global marketing, public relations, analyst relations, and inside sales experience with Fortune 500 and startup high-tech companies. As the founder of B2B technology marketing and PR firm MarCom Ink, Kim has worked with clients on marketing strategy and implementation that significantly increased lead generation and sales conversions, leading to improved revenue.
Check out the B2B Technology MarCom Blog [http://www.marcomink.com/b2b-technology-marketing-blog/] for more practical advice on what works – and doesn’t – in B2B high-tech marketing.
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