Focusing your content on your prospect's specific needs is worth the time and effort.

Focusing your content on your prospects’  specific needs is worth the time and effort.

Before spending time, effort and money just to get some content in front of customers, stop and think about what they need to know and how your content will keep you top of mind for their next purchase.

Sound obvious? I thought so, too, but according to Forrester Research Vice President Laura Amos, a lot of B2B marketers still don’t get it.

It’s All About Me

As reported in AdAge, in a May, 2014 survey conducted by Forrester with the Business Marketing Association and the Online Marketing Institute only 14 percent of respondents described their content marketing “very effective” at delivering business value, with just over half ranking it “somewhat effective.”

And yet, according to another survey, 75% of respondents planned to increase their content-marketing budgets this year. Where is our content marketing falling short?

In the crush to produce content, “many marketers revert to talking about what they know and feel comfortable discussing: themselves,” Ramos told AdAge. Her survey of 30 b-to-b websites found that 80% focused on their products and features rather than “issues their customers might be facing…” Finally, she said, in their rush to get some content out, many companies are “not really thinking about how to make the content better or more compelling or more interesting. They’re just producing.”

What Customers Want

The good news is that B2B buyers do want to hear from you. But how can you be sure the content you’re producing is focused on what customers want to know, and that you’re not just talking past them?

You probably know the most pressing issues facing your industry. If it’s health care, they are improving outcomes and adapting to new regulations — while reducing costs. If it’s internal IT, your customers need to improve service levels, roll out new apps more quickly – and reduce costs. If they’re in retail, they may be tracking brand perception and customer purchase patterns on social media – and reducing costs.

But how do you know you’re writing about these issues in a way that will keep your prospects reading? Consider yet another survey in which B2B customers said they want marketing content with:

  • Depth
  • Accessible and understandable information
  • Originality
  • Timeliness

As a sales and marketing professional, you’re skilled in many things. Developing and executing story ideas with a journalist’s eye for these four requirements is probably not one of them.

Free Content Checklist 

That’s why I’m offering this free, no-registration required print-and-post Content Marketing Checklist. It includes 14 detailed questions to ask before hitting “send’ on your next white paper, spec sheet, Webinar or email newsletter.

To check for “depth,” for example, ask whether your content specifically describes how your offering works and why it’s better than the competition. To check for “originality” ask yourself if you’ve just repeated “evergreen” challenges in your industry, or explained how to meet those challenges in a new and better way?

I invite you to print this out, post it on your wall and use it as a quick quality check on your next piece of marketing content. I’d appreciate your letting me know how it works and how I can revise it to make it more useful.

Happy Content Creation!

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email or call me at 508 725-7258.

Filed under: Content Marketing For IT VendorsContent Marketing Tips From a Trade Press EditorUncategorized

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