But if you are considering starting, or intensifying, your content marketing activity, how will it actually generate leads for your business?
The self-service generation
B2B buyers, just like consumers, have evolved. They have learned that they can find the answer to almost any question they have, online. They know they don’t need to endure biased and unscrupulous sales people in order to identify solutions to their problems. So they don’t.
Instead they navigate the early stages of the buying process alone, out of reach of your sales team and most traditional marketing. As a result 81 per cent of B2B purchases start with a search and the average B2B buyer is 50 to 60 per cent of the way through the buying process before they first contact a supplier.
Along the way, they find and consume content that is relevant to their stage in the buying process.
Why content marketing?
Content marketing enables your brand to accompany your prospective buyer through the early stages of the buying cycle without setting off their sales alarm-bells. It makes it possible to reach, engage and nurture a prospect long before they are willing to come into contact with you. And each time a prospect consumes a piece of content from you, you have an opportunity to demonstrate your capability, earn more of their trust and strengthen their relationship with your brand.
Making the shortlist
When the time eventually comes for the buyer to contact suppliers, they will quickly compile a shortlist. Often this is a very short list comprising just one or two company names. The companies that have built their relationship with the prospect by supplying quality content will make the shortlist while others will not. These companies are the ones the buyer will contact and a lead is created. This is called an inbound lead since the buyer has contacted the company, not the other way around.
Progressing to advanced lead generation methods
Once your inbound lead generation system is in place, you can take things even further and generate even more leads. You can do this by not waiting for prospects to call you. Instead you can identify people that have consumed numerous pieces of your content, or completed other specific actions, and outwardly contact them on the basis that they are ready for a sales call.