The inbound marketing process requires a complete change of mindset. It’s not about promotional messages but delivery of information that is of genuine use to customers and prospects.
Generating sufficient high-quality information to fuel the process is a challenge for any business in B2B markets. To avoid wasted time and effort first you need a plan.
Inbound Marketing Plan
It is important to carefully think through what you are trying to achieve. What market segments do you currently attack?
Your sales team should be well aware of the most common customer questions and issues that arise. Use their experience to identify questions you can answer or customer objections and concerns you can address.
Where do customers and prospects currently look for information and what are the best channels to reach them? What types of content do they prefer? Is it text, video, a combination of the two or something else?
With this information in place start building a B2B content plan. Remember, there should be some balance between the needs of existing and target customers. Valuable content builds credibility in B2B markets. Growing credibility with existing customers can be more effective than continually chasing new customers.
Use Existing Sources Of Content
To research and write quality new content requires a specific inbound marketing skillset and significant time and effort. A great source of content is information that already resides in the business.
Finding existing content, updating and repurposing it can be less effort than creating it. Existing information can be converted to a how-to guide to help customers improve how they use the product or service. Information on manufacturing or quality could be useful to customer project teams. Application information or customer use studies can smooth the purchasing process.
Reading back through old posts or articles is useful. Some articles may be completely outdated and/or inaccurate and should be deleted. Many will benefit from updating or a re-write. Some will be off-topic and should be either removed or updated.
Market issues or trends raised in company communications will probably also be of interest to prospects or customers. If there are no confidentiality issues this information can be of real value.
New Content To Fuel The Inbound Process
The responsibility for creating new content should not fall only to the marketing department. Every company department should be prepared to help. Those with a useful view on markets and trends, technology, quality and reliability should all be a part of the inbound marketing process.
Most businesses employ people outside the sales and marketing department who have a strong (often controversial) opinion on the market, technology or trends. If these people can be persuaded to deliver a post or article it can be some of the most engaging content available.
Product or technical issues tend to generate a trail of information. How was the issue identified? What was the fix? Was there a re-qualification exercise? Elements that are not commercially sensitive can be converted into content or even a mini case study on how a customer problem was resolved.
Research based content can deliver a real competitive advantage. If it focusses on a problem, the issues and your solution it can establish your business as a thought leader.
The Content Manager
A single person is required to control and drive the inbound marketing process. This is a demanding position but without it, the process has little chance of delivering results.
There are several important elements to the role including
- Help and support to those tasked with producing content.
- Keeping the content plan on track.
- Editing content to ensure it has the best chance of engaging customers and is on-brand.
Appointment of an internal person has some distinct advantages. They will be best placed to identify existing information sources and thought leaders in the business. With existing personal relationships in place, they should be able to cajole those involved to deliver on their promises.
inbound marketing has advantages and disadvantages. Generating sufficient content to fuel the inbound marketing process is resource intensive. It is important to maximise the value of each piece of content. A plan is required and a content manager appointed to deliver that plan. Every piece of content does not need to be new. There is substantial value in updated or repurposed existing content