For many business-to-business marketers, having enough content—and the right kind of content—is a huge hurdle to overcome in the race to use social marketing effectively.
Chief Marketer recently talked with Ron Jacobs, president of Chicago-based direct/digital marketing agency Jacobs & Clevenger, to get his ideas on how B2B marketers can develop a better content marketing strategy.
CHIEF MARKETER: Why do you think many B2B marketers are still a bit reluctant to embrace social media?
JACOBS: It's not a question of fear of the new, but a question of ROI. If companies put a dollar into sales, they see a clear ROI. But social? Not so much.
CM: What's the biggest challenge when it comes to effective content marketing in B2B?
JACOBS: A lot of B2B companies just don't have anyone who can write, and they're not hiring a lot of agencies right now. They're trying to do things internally, which I completely understand, but they don't have the staff to put content together.
Search is part of an ongoing content and SEO strategy. You see [big companies] like Cisco or Dell or Dow Corning employing robust content strategies, and drawing people back to their websites. But you don't see many [smaller marketers] with content strategies.
CM: What's the risk of not having a content marketing strategy in today's marketing environment?
JACOBS: You don't have the tools to see what form content should be in or how to measure it. You need a real champion within the organization, and/or have someone from outside to help.
CM: The availability of content online has obviously changed how B2B customers behave before they talk to vendors.
JACOBS: Right. Marketers need to spend time mapping their sales cycles, and insert themselves into the online conversations. I've become a big believer in social B2B CRM. When you factor in social data, it helps you see where a prospect is in the sales cycle.
CM: Should B2B marketers be adapting any B2C ideas when it comes to online content?
JACOBS: Video is a great example of that. Everybody on the consumer side is buzzing about video, and B2B marketers can use simple videos in lieu of white papers. Shackleton is one example—they do videos case studies of their communications styles, and people watch them from beginning to end.
Everyone likes video. If done well, it can explain things in a simple way and get people to come back to your website. And, it raises your SEO scores.