It’s a jungle out there: thousands of brands clamoring for the attention of millions of consumers. While big brands wield their multi-million dollar marketing loudspeakers to attract the most attention, what can a small player to do to get through to its audience? Is ‘go big or go home’ the only solution, or is there an alternative that can help smaller players compete with the Fortune 500 luminaries?
There is, and it is called content marketing. Content marketing is the creation of content to create influence. You can very well call it ‘influence marketing’ and you wouldn’t be wrong. When operating ideally, a content marketing team creates and trades influence to dictate the terms of the market without blowing away millions of dollars on Super Bowl spots and front-page ads.
We’ve been hearing about content marketing for quite some time in the consumer marketing space. Think of Mint.com’s infographics or Red Bull’s “Athlete Machine” videos. The purpose is to establish a brand identity with high-impact, low-cost content that reaches a small but influential crowd of consumers. B2B companies are now enthusiastically adopting the very same marketing approach.
However, influence is a scarce commodity in the B2B space. A few big name suppliers grab all the attention, leaving the rest to scour through the dregs. Through content marketing, B2B companies can create a narrative around their companies and establish an identity that goes far beyond product brochures, paid advertisements, and product lines. The objective of any B2B content marketing campaign is simple: to establish the target company as the go-to expert in the niche. This is an instance of pull marketing wherein you “pull” in customers through the strength of your influence. A potential customer who already recognizes your expertise in a niche is a far warmer lead than a bunch of random names on a Rolodex.
In essence, any B2B content marketing campaign would achieve the following:
1. Create and reinforce a brand identity through content creation.
2. Establish the brand’s expertise in a niche through consistent creation of high quality content. This can range from videos and infographics to behind-the-scenes documentaries and blog posts.
3. Distribute this content to a group of dedicated consumers who can influence others. For Y-Combinator founder Paul Graham, 10,000 consumers is the magic number to get the ball rolling and rake in the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing.
The eventual goal of content marketing is to create a self-perpetuating community of customers, fans, and followers. This community sustains itself and markets your brand without any external push. For B2B companies, such a loyal community is the holy grail of marketing.
The best part about content marketing is its low cost compared to other competitive advertising methods. Small businesses can start off with a simple blog and Twitter feed before branching into videos, infographics and supplementary websites. Each word written about your business niche goes towards establishing your company as the go-to expert in your niche and helps your business grow an influential brand.