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What Cisco, Microsoft and IBM told us about Content Marketing

As part of our Technology Marketing in Mind video series, we asked some of the UK’s top B2B technology marketers about their approach to content marketing. From their answers, we’ve distilled three golden rules:

1. Never create an eBook simply for the sake of it.

Or a video, or a blog post for that matter. With the current hype around content marketing, it’s possible to lose sight of the primary reason for all content creation – delivering helpful information that will help your prospects come to a buying decision.

If the phrase ‘We need four new videos by Friday!’ echoes across your office more frequently than ‘What challenges are our customers and prospects facing?’, it’s probably worth taking a step back from the battle line to reassess your ultimate objectives.

After all, content is what you put in your white paper and your blog posts – it’s not the white paper, eBook or blog itself.

 “It strikes me that often there’s an unfortunate blurring […] between the content itself and the vehicle that’s used for the content. And I think it’s really important to separate the two” Pete Jakob, Brand Manager UK & Ireland, IBM

That distinction may seem obvious, but it’s central to efficient, effective content marketing. If you know exactly what you want to communicate, you’ll find it easier to produce the white papers, videos and infographics that get the results you need.

2. Credibility is king. (And originality is queen.)

One of the aims of any content marketing strategy should be to build a productive, long-term relationship with prospects. That means your content needs to be credible, convincing and above all, helpful. Be wary of going for the big sell or overdressing your message. It’s much better to draw on your brand’s unique expertise to offer real, original insight that your audience can’t get elsewhere.

 “Make sure the content is bona fide thought leadership […]. If all you’re doing is regurgitating stuff from analysts, or from published research – and you’re not adding anything to it in terms of additional insight – then you have to question why.”

Gary Gould, now EMEA Theatre Marketing Director, Panduit

 

Credible content is professional content. Your eBooks and blog posts should be as carefully considered, as beautifully designed, and as immaculately presented as your products and services:

 “If your material is spelled wrong – if product names are inconsistent – a prospective buyer or customer is going to look at it and think, ‘Well, if they can’t even get their own content right, I’m really just not interested in what they can do for me.”
 Madeleine Hudson, Consultant Online Marketing Manager, Microsoft

Lastly, remember that credibility can be captivating – it’s at the heart of much of the world’s most persuasive content. Fact-based headlines and real-world success stories are doubly powerful, grabbing your audience’s attention while reasserting your brand’s credentials.

3. One size does not fit all.

Content marketing relies on a deep understanding of the information your audience wants and needs from you – and usually that depends on where they are in the buying cycle.

Prospects who are just starting to do some research may only need to know that your brand has a relevant product or service.  If you can convey that in an engaging, memorable way – a quirky video, for example, or a quick how-to guide on something they need help with, they’re more likely to remember you and come back later for more detailed information. That’s when it may be more beneficial to offer more detailed content, such as an analyst report or white paper.

The more you can understand about your prospects and how they make their buying decisions, the better placed you will be to create a content strategy that helps them at every stage of the cycle.

 “A case study is a great piece of content to have in an event, or in a telemarketing conversation, whereas white papers and research papers might be more appropriate when you’re talking about online advertising.” Charlene Marsh, Integrating Marketing Communications Manager, Microsoft

See more B2B technology marketers talk about content strategy

To hear senior marketers from Cisco, Microsoft and many more tackle content marketing in their own words, drop in for a virtual espresso at our Mindshare Café, and watch our bite-size Content Marketing in the Digital Era video series.

Tell us what you think

We’d be really interested to hear what your thoughts on this hottest of trends. Do you think the digital era has fundamentally changed the role of content in B2B marketing, or has it simply expanded its power and scope? Leave a comment below and let us know.