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Content: The New Brand Hero in B2B Marketing

By Ray Baird

If you’re in the world of B2B marketing, you know the game changed when search ranking became the number one strategic challenge to solve. General awareness was replaced by the new search criteria driven by customers “keywords” and primarily Google. No longer do B2B marketers have the luxury of pushing and controlling the message to the marketplace. Sure you have an influence, but what was once delivered is now “found”. Today, it’s all about being ranked at the top. Bottom line — being found, or more importantly being found and known for something. Enter content as the new brand hero.

If you want to become an industry leader or stay at the top and you don’t currently have the luxury of true product innovation or service differentiation to carry your brand, branded content may be your solution. Think about it, customers’ intelligence and attention span is at an all-time high. The experiential expectations when someone searches and lands on your site is mission critical to your brand reputation.

Customers want and demand specialized thinking and thought leadership from brand leaders in all categories of business (and it’s up for grabs). Here’s the good part — customers are willing to hand over their loyalty to the brands that save them time, make them smarter, think on their behalf and impact their lives.

Content and thought leadership strategies add value and help defend your brand position (not to mention justify your pricing/value strategy). The trick is integrating it into your existing strategy without paralyzing the organization’s resources and making sure once you get started you have the ability to deliver.

Here’s a few thoughtful and tips on how to approach building a well thought out branded content plan.

Determine your philosophy and build a strong business case for this strategy that ties back to your business plan. Branded content is not just about communication, it’s about IP and competitive advantage that contributes to corporate value just like your products and services. For some company’s it becomes the product and main advantage.

It’s not magic. Today you have the ability to establish tracking metrics like awareness, consideration, preference, buying intent. Take the mystery out of the budget you’re asking for. Build a financial scenario you monitor, measure and learn from. And most important, establish quality levels of content. Determine the outcomes before you get started.

Branded content take a different mindset. Think publishing in the most modern sense. Establish a new structure and team. Not everyone can make the transition.  This is new ground. New people. With this new mindset, develop the structure and resources necessary to build and sustain the initiative. And yes, you need a budget that commits to at least 2-3 years to prove out the concept.

Cleary define what your expectations. Don’t enter the initiative without establishing roles and responsibilities and specific deliverables for each department. Ultimately, this work should manifest itself in the form of your working action plan.

Communication is critical for involvement, momentum and support. Make sure to promote internally and commit to an integrated external marketing plan that gets you the exposure necessary to get it off the ground. If you build it, they will come? NO. Don’t expect anyone to come. You must have a well thought out search, PPC, digital, and social media support plan.

If you start with these tips in mind, you’ll have a wonderful opportunity to succeed. Take it from us, it works. We used this strategy to make us a leader in B2B branding. And its probably what brought you here.