Opinions, best practices and research into B2B marketing strategy and practices

What does content marketing have to do with quantum physics?

content marketing complexity physics quantum

Early this morning, I watched a YouTube video where five physicists attempted to explain the key concepts of quantum physics to a well-educated, yet largely non-physicist audience. The group had roughly an hour to get their messages across and were, of course, keeping it simple – it’s just that ‘simple’ and quantum physics don’t tend to go together.

Comparing content marketing to quantum physics might be a bit of a stretch, but if you’ve got the attention of management or the sales department for just an hour, communicating its workings and benefits can be no less difficult. How do you cut to the chase and get the organization on board as quickly and convincingly as possible?

Communicating the value of content marketing 

My advice is to focus on the things that really matter to the commercial side of the business. Start by getting the group focused on the benefits, then tell them how content marketing is the best way to achieve them.

So what can content marketing do for your audience? Highlight these elements:

  • Help them to be seen as experts
  • Grow the number of leads – and the information available about those leads
  • Help to close deals
  • Keep customers for longer

There’s not a salesperson or CEO out there who doesn’t want all four of these benefits. But now, having made such bold promises, you’ll have to show them how content marketing can deliver!

Help them to be seen as experts

At cylindr, we’ve done this many, many times: Take the know-how that’s present throughout a B2B company, package it up and transform it into an easily communicated format. Suddenly, the insights from one or two subject matter experts can be shared with dozens or hundreds of customers and prospects. And communicating those insights can be a powerful way to differentiate your offering from that of key competitors – even if your competitors could have said very similar things.

Generating the content doesn’t have to be difficult – at least, not if you’re used to working with engineers, scientists and other technically-minded people. Creating articles or blog posts, for example, can be as simple as a 20-minute phone interview with one of the company’s technical or commercial staffers, requiring little or no preparation for the interviewee. Follow that up with one or two review rounds and you’ve got copy that satisfies everyone (if you’re working with good content writers, that is).

Grow the number of leads

Content marketing – particularly in its most common online forms – is the King of lead generation. Sure, you can conduct telemarketing campaigns to get sales meetings, but think about your own reaction to an unknown salesperson interrupting your day with a predictably pushy style. Does that make you think highly of the company they represent? Don’t you just want to get off the call as quickly as possible?

Content marketing enables your target audiences to interact with your company in a meaningful and valuable way. If you create quality content, whether it’s articles, blog posts, white papers or videos, people will find you in increasing numbers. And if it’s done right, your salespeople will be seen as helpful, trusted advisors instead of intruders. 

Help to close deals

Salespeople care about moving leads along the sales process until the deal is won or lost and they can move on to the next opportunity. If you can help them do this faster – and with a greater percentage of won deals – you’ll make friends for life. So how can content marketing contribute?

With existing customers, good content helps to make them aware of your company’s broader range of offerings. That’s useful because we often hear that from our B2B clients that their customers simply aren’t familiar with everything the company could do for them – largely due to the limited time salespeople have to sit down and talk them through the product portfolio. Content marketing is also a crucial part of making existing customers aware of (and hungry for) new products and services – perhaps even before they’re launched.

Prospective customers who aren’t so familiar with your company are likely to be less trusting, no matter how pleasant and knowledgeable your salespeople are. They need more evidence and more emotional connection, particularly in the latter stages of negotiations. Here, well-orchestrated content marketing can increase and maintain the prospect’s confidence, raising the likelihood that the deal will be won.

Keep customers for longer

Sometimes, customers move to your competitor not because your company is doing a bad job of serving them, but because the relationship has weakened over time. It’s a natural progression among non-key accounts, because the sales department tends to focus on new opportunities and larger existing customers. And this is precisely where content marketing can help by maintaining a meaningful connection with all of your customers, even if it’s just via a quarterly newsletter or LinkedIn updates.

So why isn’t everyone doing content marketing?

There’s another side to this story, however. Quite often, we find the tables are turned: The commercial side of the company wants to implement content marketing – and the marketing department is holding back. The reasons for such reticence mostly revolve around resources, with the department feeling it is already rushed off its feet. But that’s not the only barrier. 

In reality, many B2B marketers haven’t yet come to grips with content marketing as a practice. Either they’re still stuck in behavioral patterns that reflect days gone by, or they’ve jumped headfirst into digital marketing without the systematic, highly-efficient approach of content marketing. If that’s where you suspect your marketing efforts might be, then it’s time to go back to the basics. 

Getting a foothold

Before attempting to convince anyone else of the value of content marketing in the B2B world, get a good grasp of it yourself. Read up on content marketing, understand the principles and practices of buyer personas, content calendars and everything else that’s involved – the cylindr FAQs about content marketing are a good place to start. 

And don’t forget to talk to people who have already gone down the content marketing track. After all, there’s nothing quite like hands-on experience to put things into perspective.

Keep it simple

As you put your presentation and arguments together, I’m sure you’ll identify more points to add to the ones than I’ve listed above. But resist the urge to cram in everything you possibly can. The more you tell people, the less of an impression each point makes – and the less they remember.

As with the five physicists explaining quantum physics to a non-technical crowd, do your best not to present an overwhelming amount of information. It’s likely that a lot of people in the audience were struggling with the key concepts of quantum physics, and at least a few had probably started planning their next vacation. But the physicists tailored their explanations to their target audience, laying out the concepts in a straightforward, approachable manner. 

You can do the same with content marketing. Focus on your audience, distill your message down to the essential parts and clearly explain the impact of content marketing

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Jonathan Winch

I’m Jonathan Winch, partner at cylindr BBN and a B2B marketing enthusiast. I've participated as a strategic and creative resource in the marketing and communication sphere for over 25 years, making contributions to the strategies and communications of companies of all sizes, the best known of which include Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Danisco, GN ReSound, Hempel, Nokia Siemens Networks, LEGO, Coloplast, and Johnson & Johnson. My mission? To help B2B companies make the most of the value they create for the world. My hobby: Nutritional science, particularly sports nutrition.