A Conversation with Marcus Sheridan on B2B Content Marketing
I recently had a conversation with Marcus Sheridan (aka the Sales Lion), a B2B content marketing consultant and the keynote speaker at Content Marketing World 2012, to get his perspective on some of the challenges content marketers face and why every company should be embracing content.
I started our conversation by asking Marcus about an increasingly common B2B content marketing challenge: How can any one company can ensure that its content stands out given the pervasiveness of content marketing and all of the competition it’s created.
He immediately objected, noting that there isn’t nearly as much competition as most people think when it comes to B2B content marketing.
Marcus referred to what he calls the content saturation index (CSI), which he explains is high in the world of sales and marketing, but not everywhere else. He went on to say that because sales and marketing professionals spend a lot of time talking about all of the content in their industry, they skew everyone’s opinion of how much content competition there really is. In many other fields, from law to the sciences and from the roofing to the auto body industries, that’s just not the case.
OK, I thought to myself, even if there isn’t that much competition across the board, you still want to create the kind of content that will get noticed. So I asked him to describe what that entails.
“We’ve got a screwed up definition of what awesome content is,” was his reply.
He noted that for content to be awesome, it doesn’t have to be perfect or to win awards. Instead, the definition of awesome content in Marcus’ view is much simpler. It’s when the content is able to answer a question or solve a problem that somebody else had. The idea is for people to walk away saying, “That makes sense, now I understand.”
He went on to describe the importance of creating content, even if you think it’s already been done a hundred times before. In other words, creating content that addresses your customers questions concerns is key. Even if that content already exists somewhere else, your customers need to hear about it from you to help build your brand. Plus, just because it’s already been written about, don’t assume that everyone has seen it. What may seem like old news to you could be brand new to many people in your audience, making it very valuable.
“I don’t care if the subject has been written about a million times,” he said. “If it’s something your clients ask you about, you should be creating content about it.”
Shifting gears, our conversation turned to another important aspect of B2B content marketing: content promotion and distribution, and the importance of search engine optimization. He explained that matching up the titles of your content with the way that people are searching online is one of the best ways to generate leads. You’ve got to have the best titles possible for the keywords that you’re targeting.
While he believes sharing content through social media is also important, Marcus noted that you’ve got to be aware of what works for your industry. Pool companies like the one he owns for example (Marcus got his start in content marketing by using it to make his business a success), won’t get anywhere promoting their content on Facebook or Twitter, because that’s not where people go to find out about pools. They find that information by searching for it online, making SEO essential.
What our conversation boiled down is you’ve simply got to follow one of the golden rules of content marketing: Know your audience. Know what they are looking for, where they go to look for it, and how you can customize your message so that it resonates with them.
To hear my full conversation with Marcus about B2B content marketing, check out this week’s podcast on the OpenView Labs site.
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