Does Content Marketing Get Results for B2B Companies?

content management

How novel: an in-person meeting

Content marketing is still a hot topic this year as more marketers step up their content marketing campaigns as opposed to paid advertising. According to the the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), “Content Marketing is owning, as opposed to renting media.

“It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior.”

Earned media is the results you get from press coverage and social media mentions. The CMI/Marketing Profs B2B Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends-North America  found that 93% of B2B companies are using content marketing tactics, up from 91% last year.

2014 marketers using content marketing

Nonetheless, more than two-thirds of B2B marketers rate in-person events as the most effective tactic they use, up from 67% last year. Best-in-class marketers are defined as those companies with a content marketing strategy. As a blogger, I’m thrilled, of course, that the most savvy content marketers (79%) rate blogs as the most effective tactic.

content marketing effectiveness 2014

But I’m puzzled. Why aren’t marketers doing more to step up their in-person events? It would be nice to know what kinds of in-person events marketers are using. Are we talking about old-fashioned tactics  — like picking up the phone and making an appointment to meet a prospect? We don’t know what makes up those in-person events.

It could be more event marketing, which I’m all for. Events enable you to make eye contact with prospects and start building relationships. Also, if you mount a social media campaign and get everybody tweeting and posting updates about your event that’s content marketing. Those tweets and posts just may help to get an in-person meeting.

B2B companies are my target audience. So I’m glad that best-in-class companies find blogs the most useful content marketing strategy. However, a blog in my view will never replace personal relationships in building a business. A blog can, however, be a catalyst for someone wanting to learn more about a company and reaching out to make an appointment. But, then, I’m an idealist.

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  1. This is so true. Excellent blog. There’s something about “working the room” that cannot be matched. And, when you can combine in-person events with a great social media campaign, so much the better. That keeps the dialogue going and ensures that the content does not get stale. Each time you and your audience have the opportunity to chat — whether in person, on the phone or in a social media forum — it extends the shelf life of the content and makes your communications efforts much more worthwhile.

    • Mark — you make an excellent point. Personal meetings can reinforce your content marketing efforts. Every “touch point” — whether it’s content marketing, advertising, or a personal meeting — burnishes your brand and the potential for meaningful relationships.

  2. Great that most marketers consider blogs the most efficient way of content marketing! Not surprised though that in-person events are consiered even better. A combination is hence ideal.

    • Catarina — yes, we need to remember that the purpose of content marketing is to make a personal connection.

  3. I am not surprised in-person events are top 1 for B2B marketing – after all, to succeed in B2B, relationship building and management is *the* most important thing, and that’s done right in person. 😀

    To you question what does “in-person events” really mean, while reading your post – i was thinking of expos and industry gatherings of some kind, you know – with a booth and all 🙂 Conferences as well…

    Blogging is just a fraction of the whole content marketing realm though. I believe content marketing is the right way for all businesses, incl. B2B – users today are not so easily manipulated since they have access to all type of knowledge and information; they can choose what information to filter out or not.

    So honesty, transparency and integrity will get more and more important for the business. And content marketing helps the business stay honest and transparent, don’t you think?

    Great post, Jeannette 🙂

    • Diana — thanks, you’re right. Honesty and transparency are a must because you can found out all you want about an individual or a business in a web search. There are no secrets anymore.

  4. I too am thrilled that blogging is starting to see an up-tic in marketing strategies. The movement/shift is, and was, inevitable because of the very change demographics.

    I have the same question, Jeannette. What does “in-person events” really mean to the companies are engaging in that kind of marketing action and how do they quantify the results? 🙂

    • Susan — good question. In-person could mean one-on-one meetings, networking events, their own conferences, trade shows, etc. That was not clarified in the survey. I assume if you’re selling something and have a target ratio of calls to sales, that would be would one measure.

  5. Blogging is a great way to get information out to your customers, but I don’t think that it can replace face to face contact. People still need the personal touch, whether it’s over the phone, or preferably in person. There’s only so much innuendo that can be gleaned through a blog, not to mention customers want to know ‘what are you going to do for me?’ , not your generic view of an issue.

  6. In-person events like book readings and signings matter so much for any author, whether self-published or traditionally. A blogger friend recently did her first signing and only ordered 10 print copies. A fellow writer brought 50 copies to the event, and sold all 50. I’m ages away from that sort of stuff, but have been thinking about the possibility of speaking engagements, etc. related to my writing and editing.

    • Jeri — as I just told Debra, speaking dates are great exposure. Even the most famous authors still do book tours. Michael Connelly is now one of the most successful mystery writers in America selling millions of books and paperbacks. But when he still had only written a few books, I went to his book signing 16 years ago at a tiny shop “The Purple Orchid” in NY that specialized in mysteries. The shop was in a small brownstone on a side street on the Upper East Side. I still have that book with a picture of the two of us pasted inside. It was “Blood Work” which went on to become a movie starring Client Eastwood. Everyone has to start somewhere.

  7. Well said Jeannette, as I read the data the first thing that popped into my head was, why aren’t B2B marketers doing more in person events? It made me wonder how much of that was resistance and how much was simply not getting access. I find myself bombarded on a daily basis with requests and invitations from printers, publishers, software folks and marketers to name a few. For the most part their products and services are terrific, but in order to get my work done, I decline meeting with most of them.

    • Debra — you make a good point. Everyone is so stretched that you just can’t see everyone who wants to make an appointment. But, then, that’s nothing new. My nephew built a very successful consulting business by booking speaking dates for himself where people got to hear him and he had the opportunity to mingle at receptions. It’s a reminder of the old adage — go where you’re prospects hang out.

  8. Blogs are fantastic ways of getting genuine and honest feedback on products. it builds trust but not in the same way as face to face with the people selling or producing the product. That will always win out.

    • Becc — a good point. Overtime a blog can give you market intelligence. But there is nothing like personal interaction.

  9. Bhavesh — Good point that only a personal meeting enables you to tailor your offerings directly to that individual or company.