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Content: The Future of B2B Marketing

When you mention content marketing to a business-to-business marketer, even an experienced one, the best reaction you get is confusion. Content marketing, otherwise known as custom media, custom publishing, or customer media, is perhaps the biggest industry that no one has ever heard of.

According to Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a B2B private equity company, content marketing rose almost 30 percent last year to $28 billion in marketing spend. American Business Media estimates that approximately $4 to $7 billion is pure business-to-business. To put that in perspective, the average company spends about $1 million on its custom content projects (think custom magazines, newsletters, content portals, etc.). Not bad for an unknown industry. Most senior marketing executives don’t have a clue how much is really spent inside their own companies on editorial content serving their customers and prospects. Those times are changing!

Content wins

A simple definition of content marketing is relevant and valuable information delivered by a company to a targeted audience with the purpose of changing or fostering a behavior. Go back and read that definition one more time, but this time remove the relevant and valuable.  That’s the difference between content marketing and the other informational garbage you get from B2B companies. Companies send us information all the time – it’s just that most of the time it’s not very relevant or valuable (can you say spam?). That’s what makes content marketing so intriguing in today’s environment of thousands of marketing messages per person per day. Good content marketing makes a person stop…read…think…behave…differently.

According to the Custom Publishing Council and Roper Public Affairs, 80 percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. And 70 percent say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company, while 60 percent say that company content helps them make better product decisions. Think of this – what if your customer looked forward to receiving your marketing? What if when they received it — via print, email, website — they spent 15, 30, 45 minutes with it? Yes, you really can create marketing that is anticipated and truly makes a connection! That is marketing for the present and the future.

A prediction

Flying cars, an Indians/Cubs world series, fat-free pizza (that tastes good), and corporations as the new publishers. Well, maybe I’m stretching the baseball scenario. You, the marketer of a small, medium or large corporation, are the content provider of the future. Companies like GE, Cisco and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange already get it, with more on the way. They realize that effective marketing rests solely on the shoulders of content the helps customers and prospects do their jobs better, faster, cheaper, or with more fervor. The combination of this and the fact that corporations have deeper pockets (i.e., Cisco buying WebEx with petty cash) than traditional media companies will create a tipping point that will see business decision makers from around the globe being affected by the highest quality of editorial content available.

So, as you are beginning to plan your next marketing strategy, is content in the center or an also-ran? If it’s not in the center, prepare for irrelevance.

This article was originally prepared for B2B Marketing Trends and is repurposed with permission.