7 Steps to Find Your Content Marketing Sweet Spot

The Content Marketing Sweet SpotYou are ready to take your content marketing to the next level. Until now, you have been producing mostly mid and late stage content.

Your content supports the sales process and effectively communicates the value of your solutions to prospects.

Now, you are ready to use content marketing to raise the profile of your company overall.

Content that drives overall visibility for your company is different. To broadly improve your visibility within your market, you need to focus this content marketing initiative on the priorities your target audience has when they are not in market for or considering your solutions.

Identifying where to focus your Stage Zero content efforts can be an unnatural process for marketers accustomed to focusing on the buying process. Here is how to find an area of focus in seven steps.

1. Get To Know Your Audience

It has been said a million times, but it is still critical. In this case, you need to know your audience’s priorities, opportunities and challenges. This perspective should be completely independent of your business and your offerings. (Remember, this process is only for identify the area of focus for Stage Zero content).

2. Evaluate Your Offerings

Your solution may not exactly match any of the topics identified above. In most cases, it will not, particularly the more senior your target audience is and the more specific your solution is. For this step, you simply need to understand how your offerings relate to your audience’s primary focus.

Up until here, this is hopefully information you already have.

3. Identify The Adjacencies

Where do your offerings come close to your audience’s priorities? Where do the line up exactly? Identify two or three opportunities that would allow you to focus on their priorities and easily bridge to your offerings.

Examples:
Eloqua has done a great job of focusing on content marketing as a topic, a priority for the demand generation marketers who are driving adoption of marketing automation platforms.

Hubspot has focused on inbound marketing, a smaller step for the, but still a significant expansion on their offering as digital marketing software and platform provider.

4. Review Your Potential Competitors

Your new content marketing efforts introduce a new set of potential competitors. For instance, if a database firm chooses to focus on business intelligence and the business applications of their data, they need to consider new competitors like Microstrategy.

Review the content marketing and PR efforts of the companies you will be competing with for visibility in this space.

5. Select Your Area of Focus

Considering both your potential content marketing competitors and the areas where your audience’ priorities come closest to your offerings, decide where to focus your content marketing efforts. Aligning this focus to your audience’s priorities is critical.

Building recognized expertise will take a year or more, and it forms a foundation you can continue to build on for years to come. This is not a decision to take lightly.

6. Develop Your Expertise

To compete in content marketing, you cannot fake your expertise for long. Your objective is to establish yourself as a thought leader or practice expert with the individuals that are already expert in this category.

Developing your company expertise will likely require new hires. Ideally, it will also include new education and training for everyone in a client facing role in your organization.

7. Join and Drive the Conversation

Your content needs to create conversation and dialogue in the market on an ongoing basis. This effort needs a full content strategy and plan to ensure you and your content becomes a respected fixture in your industry. (Again, consider the example of Hubspot in inbound marketing, referenced above.)

Conclusion

This type of content marketing isn’t for everyone. There is opportunity in many markets still to focus content marketing on the people that are in market for a solution and those researching the category directly.

However, for companies looking to maximize the profile of their company through content marketing and able to commit the resources needed to the effort, identifying an area of focus that positions you to connects with the broadest segment of your audience is critical.

Your Turn

Will we see a major trend towards companies using content marketing to broadly differentiate themselves in the market, or will companies focus on using content in the buying process? Share your thoughts below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

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About Eric Wittlake

I am a digital and B2B marketer with a background in online media and analytics. I work with B2B clients on media and integrated marketing programs at Babcock & Jenkins. You can connect with me on Twitter at @wittlake or in the comments here on my B2B Digital Marketing blog.

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  • http://twitter.com/diegopalmeiro Diego Palmeiro

    Hey Eric, under point #3, it looks like you’re missing a word on the following phrase:
    “Hubspot has focused on inbound marketing, a smaller step for the, but
    still a significant expansion on their offering as digital marketing
    software and platform provider.”
    Or maybe it just wasn’t clear to me, so a little help please :)

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  • James

    I noticed you used the word ‘thought leader’ but in a more recent post here on your blog you say that’s any empty term ;-)

    Otherwise I really like the clarity of this article – this is going to be a good starting point for explaining to clients why we are adopting certain tactics.

    Just stumbled across your blog actually some really great stuff so will be coming back :-)

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks! Yes, it has become an empty term and one I need to be very careful to define now whenever I use it. I firmly believe it (and things like strategy as well) are very valuable, but the meaning of the term has been diluted over time.

      Thanks for taking the time to read (multiple posts!) and comment, I appreciate it!

  • http://twitter.com/fortheloveofseo For the Love of SEO

    As we all know, content marketing isn’t new…but the awareness of how important it is has definitely increased for all levels of website owners.

     

  • http://twitter.com/fortheloveofseo For the Love of SEO

    As we all know, content marketing isn’t new…but the awareness of how
    important it is has definitely increased for all levels of website
    owners.

    I believe we’ll see an increase in quality (or at least I really hope so), going from just “churning out content” to actually having a strategy behind it, and knowing how to measure it. Research -> publish content -> measure -> adjust strategy Rinse and repeat.

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  • Doug Kessler

    Great post, Eric. I’m a big believer in the content marketing sweet spot but I hadnt included the competition inmy thinking. Important addition.