Is there a better way?
From the 1950s to 1990s, the salesperson held the intellectual property and the answers to the problems. Now with information online, it puts the prospect in charge.
Firstly, investors, start-ups and owners of established businesses need to be cautious of consultants, contractors and employees who promote the ‘automated’ approach to marketing/selling, i.e. getting an email address, and instigating cold calling. This is indicative of individuals either attempting to keep their jobs or by playing it safe (i.e. better-the-devil-you-know approach), whilst telling the business owner what they think they wants to hear. Both are destined for failure.
Secondly, by understanding the past this will help many businesses grasp why B2B has been so slow to exploit content – it’s part impatience and part ignorance. I am reminded of the many startups who are cock-a-hoop when they obtain investment, yet have not even started to generate an income, let alone a profit, but boast because they acquired someone else’s money!
And finally, all one has to do is communicate what the business does and post the information online so it can be found by the people who want to buy. It really is as simple as that. Yet most embark on a career of stress and failure - on the investors’ money!
Our lives have changed, and we have been conditioned by the technology available to us. From the 1950s to the 1990s researching a product, or a company was difficult; we didn’t have the Internet so researching the answer to a problem was both challenging and time consuming. As with the Bible being written in Latin and the only translators being the educated priests, from the 1950s to 1990s, it was the salesperson who held all the intellectual property (IP) and business intelligence and thus the answers to the problems. Now all that information is online, putting the prospect in charge.
The Google Experiment
Imagine a simple start-up experiment. The founders have a great idea. They talk and write copious amounts of content about their product/idea. They build a website and post all their content on it. But because it’s such a new idea, they choose to use Google’s Pay Per Click to see how it will be received.
A pay-per-click (PPC) advert is posted on Google but they don’t get one click. They edit and change the PPC advert text to see if it can have a better appeal/attraction and spend some time re-thinking their target market and who they are trying to sell to.
They hit the mark. Interested potential buyers click through to a landing page and download their content. They realise browsers are visiting multiple pages and are staying on their website for a long time.
The content on their website is edited so it better appeals to the same target market as the pay-per-click adverts so they can be found through standard search on Google. They make their website more sales orientated and place call-to-action links on the site inviting browsers to email or call them.
It works! Enquiries start coming in followed by a steady stream of orders. They decide to apply for Angel investment to fund their development and initial growth; their long-term plan is to expand nationally and internationally through continued attraction and possibly venture capital.
They are now able to prove their business model without having made one ‘cold’ telephone call and can naturally scale it when and where it suits them.
Increasing Turnover per Head
When thinking about on-line research, which can also be called “attraction”, consider the benefits of giving a potential customer all the information they are looking for to help them choose your company over a competitor.
Although estimates vary, the average turnover per person per annum (pppa) of a SME in the UK is approximately £90,000. Compare this to Peak Design in the USA, who make camera bags and accessories. Back in 2018 they had 38 staff and a turnover of $1.462m pppa. They concentrated their efforts on providing interesting content and information to their potential customers who rewarded them by buying their products in the thousands. It’s all about attraction and communicating it.
Is your business on a treadmill?
If companies want to break out of the common ‘treadmill’ business structure and do more than just survive on a minimum turnover per person, the only way to do so is to succeed at attraction. No amount of salespeople can ever achieve a higher ratio, let alone any amount of investment. Take a look again at the statistics at the beginning of this white paper just to remind yourself of the failure rate – it does not discriminate!
Some may think there is too much competition for your product or service to start getting busy with content. However, I can tell you, there is a dearth of good quality, valuable content out there - most of it is bad to shocking!
The time could not be better to challenge it and start writing content that will elevate your business and present you as a thought-leader in your industry. I know this, and it’s easy to do.
You also need to consider that content will stay online until it is removed. This means that anyone who has written content in the past, good or bad, will still be affecting the business today. Nothing else can keep promoting your business like a good piece of content. It never goes sick, never takes holiday, never complains, works 24/7 and never asks for or expects to receive commission.
Therefore, it is important to review all existing content ensuring it is fit-for-purpose. In the same way a salesperson is promoted or fired, the same needs to be applied to content. If it needs to be edited, do it and do not forget to get it reindexed on Google Search Console. And if it doesn’t fit, delete it from the website and Search Console.
The definition of insanity is for a business to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.
Becoming a 'Content First' Business
The objective must be to significantly increase deep, relevant and engaging the content, which in turn will reduce the need for new business development staff
The mantra ‘Content is King’ prevails and building a ‘Content First’ marketing strategy is not complicated and only takes a little time, yet no one seems to properly or fully explain why, let alone how it should be done for maximum effect.
To write an article could take a day or so. A podcast, a day to record and edit. A short video, a day or so to set up and film and another day to edit. Live streaming takes time to set up, but there is no after-transmission editing required. Once the parameters are in place the content infrastructure can be built relatively quickly.
But first one must understand the mechanics. Too many businesses think that ‘content’ consists of simply writing a few paragraphs and posting a picture of the author. It’s not and it (content) needs to be part of your overall integrated approach to connect with prospects by delivering information that is meaningful and helps them traverse your website to a natural conclusion.
Once Product, Primary and Secondary content is created, Social Media, Search, Email and External Advertising methods can be activated to promote it.
To start-ups who haven’t got investment yet, get writing; get your people to create content as a priority.
If you’re already in business or have recently obtained investment, the objective must be to significantly increase deep, relevant and engaging content, which in turn will reduce the need for new business development staff and salespeople.
Four Elements to Change
- Exploiting Staged Content
- Establishing the Technical Structure of Digital Marketing
- Adoption and use of Content Technology
- Company-wide policy to create content
How to Exploit Staged Content
Unfortunately, there seems to be little standardisation in the terminology for business-to-business content, so I have coined the following terms below to help businesses track the flow of traffic through various content stages and calls-to-action.
The first priority is to stop content from being ‘gated’ behind an email form. This immediately allows Google to start crawling your content and positioning it on the search engines. The importance of this cannot be overstated. If Google can’t see it the content will never be found by potential customers.
Secondly, the content should be structured in such a way as to gently help the browser make the decision to talk to your business directly. Each content stage must be designed to lead to the next. If content is promoted via search, news or email etc., simply ensure there is a call-to-action from one stage to another.
Product Content – Detailed and informative explanations about the products or services the business offers. This helps browsers fully understand what the offering is, what it does and how it does it. Include graphics, video, downloads, and links to FAQs, contact email addresses and pre-sales support telephone numbers.
Primary Content – This is ‘evergreen’ thought-leadership and explanatory content that will find its way to the top of the search engines and link to Product Content.
Secondary Content – News, short articles, industry events, awards etc., written in the active, not passive voice. This links to Primary Content
News items should be separately identified on the website and a corresponding sitemap created for Google News, requesting that the site be crawled regularly for their news service. Apple can also be approached for news submissions.
General Content – Any other content that can be posted on the website, from Christmas parties, charity events, new hires and so on. General Content may or may not have a call-to-action link.
Technical Structure for Digital Marketing
For best results, websites must have separate sitemaps for mobile, desktop, video and images. Use structured data based upon schema.org so that voice search and Google can identify the page types and to use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to speed up mobile browsing.
Additionally, using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) will speed up access to the web pages, increase page speed and ensure a better experience for browsers. It may even help differentiate your business from the competition and push up its positioning on Google.
The website can be tested on GTMetrix for Page Speed and YSlow (load-time measurement). Expect a score between 90-100%. Any competent web developer will know what needs to be done to implement this and the other technical aspects above.
Content First means to systemise the flow of content presented to interested parties, monitor the success or failure via Google Analytics, edit or remove the bad content and to be expectant of getting results. This is how Digital Marketing is supposed to work!
Adoption & Use of Content Technology
Content is not about simply writing a few articles. It is about exploiting videos, podcasts, live streaming and photography, and copy writing - from articles to news to brochures, even scripts.
The recent change in working practices for many businesses means more people are working from home. This means additional space could be available at your offices to create a studio area to produce the audio-visual content.
Overall, the cost of content technology is tiny compared to what it will do for the business. It only takes some creativity and if there is a lack in that area, then it is possible to jump-start the process with a workshop or two.
Company Policy to Create Content
Get everyone writing, shooting videos and recording audio. Everyone has a smart phone these days so get your people to take and post photos and record anything they can for the business to help show the human side of the organisation.
The above layout is the suggested format for producing ‘Thought-Leadership’, informative, ‘How to...’ content. Google grades content based upon clarity, layout, depth, readability (so a 12-year-old could understand) and/or research, including video, links, images and graphs. In addition, consider implementing Structured Data based on Schema (www.scheme.org) and offering Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
The New Organisational Chart