When it comes to B2B content marketing, a successful plan relies on a variety of strategically chosen distribution channels to get the content in front of the target audience. This means a careful and ongoing refining of content quality and format, as well as distribution choice.
Many marketers like to picture their content distribution strategy as a three-legged stool, as noted by Joe Pulizzi in an editorial for the Content Marketing Institute. Pulizzi describes the importance of using the three-legged stool analogy to keep marketing efforts balanced and on-track. He also remarks on how those in the publishing industry have changed their order on how they execute the elements of the three-legged stool. Here’s a quick look at the three legs of content marketing:
Online: This is where the excitement has been centered in the last few years. Marketing efforts are largely focused on capturing audiences on social media, through blogs and in email newsletters. Companies are sharpening social media and other digital content distribution strategies, operating according to precise calendars, using meticulously-chosen language in their posts and using pinpoint accuracy to connect with a target audience.
Much of the scientific approach to digital content marketing owes its advance to the use of analytics. Marketers are increasingly able to see what type of subject lines cause their target audience to click through on an email newsletter, and what type of call to action in a blog results in a visit to their products page.
There are drawbacks to relying on digital methods for content marketing distribution, though, and that’s why it’s just one leg of the stool. For instance, social media is a relatively passive marketing channel. It involves a lot of experimentation with different formats and headlines to see what grabs the attention of a target audience. Marketers are generally at a loss when it comes to discovering why a particular blog post didn’t receive any comments or why a video was minimally shared on social media.
Print: The second leg of the stool is print marketing, which can include anything from direct mailers to industry magazines and white papers. Print materials have become interlaced with online marketing efforts, incorporating links, codes and invitations to interact with online resources.
It’s important to note that print materials are still highly relevant, and for certain industries they are indispensable. Depending on the demographics of your target audience, you may find that print remains your most reliable channel for content distribution. Certain types of print materials, such as direct mail and industry-specific magazines, are effective ways to reach a target audience.
Just like with online marketing channels, though, there are some drawbacks to relying too heavily on print media for growing your sales opportunities. It also tends to be a passive form of marketing. You change up headlines, promotions and content, trying to hit the right note in order to engage with your audience. Then, you wait.
In-person: The third leg of the stool, as described by Pulizzi, is the in-person event. The nature of these events differs depending on your industry, but it’s the culmination of efforts resulting in a face-to-face relationship with a customer.
Much of most marketing budgets is funneling to online activity, and for many B2B buyers, the name of the game is convenience. They value online interactions because access to online expertise and images means that they no longer have to see a product or service in person in order to become a loyal customer. However, in-person events are still strong. B2B transactions are still built on relationships, and there’s no substitute for face-to-face conversation.
In-person marketing events are expensive, though. They require extensive planning, and resources. Furthermore, they require that the people you are interested in meeting will be available on the day and time you need, and will be willing to invest their own time and money.
Mr. Pulizzi makes a very good analogy and explains well the importance of the three connecting distribution channels. We believe there is a fourth leg to consider for the current content marketing model for a better return on investment, telemarketing. Telemarketing is an important complement to the three legs of the marketing stool. Here’s why:
Telemarketing is proactive: To figure out which parts of your content marketing strategy are effective you need to measure website visits and shares on your social media. Telemarketing gives you the ability to go after the information you want. You receive immediate feedback from your contacts on the type of format they prefer and the time of day they tend to visit social media to browse content.
Through telemarketing, you can find out where your potential buyer is in the decision-making process, what reservations may be preventing forward motion and whether your contact has any other feedback about your brand or product.
Telemarketing is precise: Rather than relying on analytics alone, telemarketing can give you the critical information that leads to increased sales. For instance, a direct conversation with your prospect tells you whether you are targeting/talking to the decision-maker, or if you need to direct your efforts to another audience. Instead of waiting to see if a blog gets attention, you can ask your contact whether they liked your blog or if there’s another topic they’d like to see discussed.
You gain important details about your target audience when you include telemarketing as the fourth leg of your content marketing stool. You’ll learn about the specific problems or challenges that your potential buyer is facing. You’ll hear about what they value about your brand versus your competitors and build loyalty during your conversations.
Telemarketing is a natural follow-up vehicle: Once you’ve landed the contract or you’ve delivered their first order, telemarketing offers the perfect opportunity to check in on your service. Your customer will welcome the opportunity to tell you if there was anything that didn’t go exactly as promised and you’ll gain insight into customer satisfaction levels.
To learn more about crafting the perfect four-legged content marketing plan, make an appointment with Blue Valley Telemarketing. We regularly work with companies like yours to create a strategy that leads to ongoing sales growth.