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Friday, 7 February 2014

Getting on the client radar - part 3 content marketing

In agency new business, identifying prospects and content marketing are two of the most important drivers of a successful B2B sales and marketing strategy.

Content is critical because potential clients care much more about their commercial problems than they do about your services. Thus developing content which helps to address business challenges and in turn helps prospects to do their job better, is an effective way of generating new business opportunities, and it fuels three key elements of B2B marketing; search, social and outbound.

Understanding your target audience and their business drivers enables the design and delivery of content which is both personalised and timely. By developing client persona's it's possible to profile which businesses, individuals and commercial challenges would benefit most from an agencies unique services. And it's matching our agency proposition to prospects which is vital if we're to get on the client radar and provoke a response.

A typical persona for a client prospect could be something like this:

Following a recent purchase of the brand by a competitor, Bob Smith joined Acme Beauty Products as their new CMO two months ago. Bob has been challenged with reviving a brand that is suffering from declining market share, poor distribution and limited consumer engagement. In the past Acme have used traditional marketing and retail channels to sell their products and Bob has identified branding, e-commerce and content marketing as his areas of focus. Bob is young, dynamic and is comfortable commissioning category defining and highly creative work. 

If you're an agency which specialises in the Health & Beauty category with a track record of reviving ailing brands, or you create new online sales channels and digital marketing campaigns, then obviously Bob and Acme Beauty are the ideal prospect to target. It sounds basic but it's interesting that many agencies fail to properly identify who would benefit most from their services and thus they pursue prospects which they have little or no chance of converting.

Agency content marketing can take many forms. It could be great creative work, client case studies, opinion pieces, research, agency news, thought-leadership articles, newsletters, blogs, film or infographics, but whatever form it takes it must be relevant and it must be targeted. The best content is born of a clear understanding of who you want to work with and who you don't. It's also most effective when anchored by a clearly defined and well understood agency proposition. As mentioned in previous posts, there are too many agencies with nothing unique to offer.

PR people will tell you that great content centres on a specific topic or area of expertise that you can own and eventually position your agency around as the thought-leader and go to provider. By identifying the topic it's not only easier to generate interesting and thought-provoking content, it is also easier to identify key phrases and words that can be used to optimise search marketing. Creating topic specific content also provides the hook for direct response communications and is a great conversation starter for sales people.

Developing content should not be the preserve of the new business team. Content and ideas can come from anywhere in the business. By creating an editorial calendar and communicating to staff which topic areas you would like to cover and why, it's possible to engage staff in the editorial process. It also allows the agency to tap into different areas of expertise and opinions, creating far richer and more engaging content.

Lastly, great content is authoritative and challenging. It's better to create a few high quality pieces of impactful content which will get a prospect's attention, rather than using a fire-hose approach to distributing low quality material. Each great content idea can then be broken down into spin-off pieces, allowing you to seed the content across multiple touch-points - increasing your exposure and feeding the sales funnel from every possible entry point.