Build up trust: Businessman building trust-word.As I put the finishing touches on our latest ebook on 2014 B2B marketing trends, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles about content marketing trends in particular. In fact there are so many that I couldn’t address them all in our ebook without leaving out some other critical trends (like technology and personalization).

But one survey jumped out at me more than any other and it really deserves some immediate attention.

According to a study by the CMO Council – only 9% of B2B respondents trust content from vendors! At the same time 87% of respondents credit online content with impacting their buying decision. So the conclusion? Content ROCKS (but probably not yours).

Why? And what can today’s technology marketer do about it? The Why is not surprising actually.  According to this same survey, the biggest dislikes of prospects are:

  • Promotional content.
  • Non-substantive and uniformed.
  • Too many hoops to get to your content

So what does this mean for you?  Assuming most of the small to mid-sized B2B technology companies we work with can’t commission, purchase, and share reports from Gartner and Forrester, how do you create content that will matter to your prospect?

Here are a few tips for getting past the objections and moving your content into the “trusted” bucket:

  • Build more customer centric content. Prospects trust your customers’ experiences and rightly so. Make your customers a cornerstone of your content strategy. Go beyond the typical case study and create STORIES that address the pains your prospects are experiencing and how your brilliant solution rode to the rescue. Remember to use different formats including ebooks (how about a compilation of your best customer stories?), video and infographics to share your results.
  • Use experts to validate what you’re saying. Who are the experts in your target markets that people listen to? Follow them and use their content to guide your own content creation. Then go a step further and ask for their participation (interviews, for example). At a minimum, share any writings that support your points (with links and credit, of course.)  When blogging, point to their blog and then add your opinion.
  • Use ANYONE ELSE to write your content. In keeping with the bullet above, use a professional and invest the dollars you need to get a well-researched and well-written piece. Your technical person will be way too technical for the type of thought leadership your prospect wants and your sales and marketing people will be too promotional. An outside writer will give you a fresh perspective, take the time to do the research, and avoid self-serving statements and clichés (among other things). By the way, not all writers are created equal. Hire writers that focus on the B2B market and the technology solutions you represent.
  • Know who you’re writing for. A professional writer will make sure this happens. If you’re still doing content in-house, make sure you pay more than lip service to this critical piece.  Ideally  you have content for various people in the decision chain – including the researcher (who’s compiling the basic feature list), the money person, the geek (said with much fondness), and the decision maker. Take the time to identify the various people you are talking to and their needs, and then create content specifically for them.
  • STOP gating everything you do. Not technically a content idea but since this showed up so high on the survey it has to be addressed. Just the nature of asking me for 10 pieces of information tells me you’re all about ‘you’. If you must gate, make the first very short and simple, do it only for your most valuable pieces of content, and then only for a limited time.

So the big takeaway for 2014? Content marketing is maturing and our approach needs to mature with it. Spend more time researching, developing and creating the kind of content your prospects will trust.

By Barbara Pfeiffer at The Partner Marketing Group, author of ‘The Year of Content’, “The ABC’s of Content Marketing. Stayed tuned for her newest ebook on 2014 marketing trends to be published in February.

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