In the 80s, it was the publisher's job to create an editorial calendar and the corresponding articles. It was the marketer's responsibility to create advertising that sold. We reverently separated the two sides of the business to maintain integrity.
Today these lines are blurred. Marketing organizations are tasked with being internal publishing houses and generating revenue. The clear separation between thought leader and revenue generator is gone. B-to-B marketers walk a fine line that even the best publishing companies in the world would not. They must skillfully balance being perceived by the prospective buyer as a trusted resource on a given topic with the goal of selling something.
Clearly, customers and prospects do not expect the same unbiased information from a marketer that they expect to find in a trusted media source, but they do demand quality content that helps them make informed decisions. For years we've been saying, "right content, right time, right person." Unfortunately this often translates into, "blast this, right now, to everyone." So how do you create the proper foundation for your content marketing success?
1. 'Content' Is a Strategic Imperative
From the top down, there needs to be a commitment to content and the role it plays in communicating to customers throughout their lifecycles. We used to think this process was like a relay race with marketing handing the baton to sales, who in turn handed it to service. That's no longer true. Marketing's responsibility for communicating is continuous and, therefore, content marketing is not just about awareness or filling the top of the funnel. Content plays a role in every step of your customer lifecycle.
Discuss how you acquire leads, nurture them, convert them to customers, and eventually to loyal customers who use several of your products or services. You need to map your customer lifecycle and buying process. For example, your customer buying process might look like this: