Ideas to help break the B2B automated marketing content barrier.

Recently I sat in on a great Webinar put on by Brian Carroll of MECLABS Applied Research. Brian is the organizer of the LinkedIn B2B Marketing Roundtable of which I am a member.

Instead of the speaker being a B2B marketing resource, this Webinar was a real-life case study presented by a true B2B marketer, Michelle Levy, Associate Vice President of Marketing Programs for ECI Telecom.

Her presentation was “Learn from Real-World Success: How ECI Telecom Developed a Content-Marketing Program from Concept to Completion and the Surprising Results.”

It was a great presentation, but I have to admit, I wasn’t surprised at all by the results, which included achieving a 79 percent email open rate and high conversion rates.

The reason I was not surprised is that she and her team did EVERYTHING according to best practices (which I passionately advocate) and they used excellent resources to help them:

Step one in the ECI campaign was to inventory all of its content assets — content being educational information that could be offered to acquire and nurture prospects through the buy cycle until they are “buyer ready.” After taking its inventory, ECI found 695 assets. Most assets were product brochures, of course, but nonetheless, that number is remarkably high. Many companies I deal with are lucky to find 10.

Here is a recap of how Michelle defined “valuable” content:

  • Quality: Does the content asset meet the same standards you set for your products and services?
  • Value: How thoroughly does it address a customer pain point?
  • Relevance: Does the content meet the information needs of the buyer’s place in the buy cycle? Is it relevant to the pains of that particular title?
  • Influence: Does the content influence the buyer’s perceptions in terms of issues, risks, or opportunities?

Indentifying and creating valuable content is one of the biggest barriers to effective automated marketing that establishes a B2B company as a thought leader. But it doesn’t have to be. By thinking outside of the white paper box and repurposing existing materials, many B2B marketers find that creating valuable content is not as overwhelming as it seems.

The following suggestions, organized by traditional buy cycles, have all been used successfully by other B2B marketers and should help stimulate ideas for building a content library that supports B2B marketing efforts throughout the entire buy cycle.

Interest Stage — Prospects have discovered they have a pain and are seeking education on how the pain can be fixed:
*Benchmark Reports
*Blog Reprints
* Case Studies (if organized into a collection of how peers are handling a specific pain)
* eBook of Blog Reprints
* Games
* How-to Guides
* Industry Category Surveys
* Live Seminars
* Podcasts
* Quick Self-Assessments/Checklists
* Survey Reports
* Third-Party Analysts’ Reports
* Video of Top-Level Exec or Product Category Expert
* White Papers — High-Level Industry-Focused

Consideration Stage — Prospects are beginning to look at specific types of solutions:
* Brochures
* Case Studies/Success Stories
* Interactive Games
* Live Seminars
* Podcasts
* Product Demos
* Quick Self-Assessments/Checklists
* Step-by-Step Guides
* Third-Party Analysts’ Reports
* Video of Top-Level Exec or Product Category Expert
* White Papers — Mid-Level Solution Focuses

Evaluation Stage — Prospects are comparing specific solutions:
* Brochures
* Case Studies/Success Stories
* Comparison Charts with Competition
* Product Demos
* Product or Company Press Releases
* Product Solution Briefs
* ROI Calculators
* White Papers — In-Depth Technical Product Focus

Purchase Stage — Prospects making buying decisions:
* In-depth Demos
* ROI Calculators

There are more options for creating content than ever before and I welcome suggestions for ideas I might have missed. Content does not have to be the big automated marketing barrier. For B2B marketers who don’t have the bandwidth to produce these items in-house, there are a number of excellent professional resources who can do it quickly and cost-effectively.

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