The five keys to content-powered marketing


Content plays a critical multifaceted role in marketing today - simultaneously beckoning and informing your customers at any given time. Content imparts details, stirs emotions and sways decisions. And when created and promoted correctly,  content fuels a sales funnel whose narrow end points to the shangri-la of closed sales and happy customers. And according to Scott Vaughan, the CMO of UBM TechWeb, content is also a catalyst in the transformation of marketing into a driver of profitable growth for the organization.

According to Scott, content plays a key role in B2B marketing today because 70% of customers' research happens before they even make the first call to a vendor. And when that research includes your content, delivered truthfully and in the format and channel that the customer needs, you are well on your way to building a relationship based on trust that you've earned. That notion is not limited to B2B companies considering the role of peer input and reviews for many consumer purchases, and the advent of omni-channel retailing.

The change that content is catalyzing can be seen in 10 prominent ways that marketing has shifted from buying impressions to making impressions:

Previous Ways   Current ways
Push > Pull
Target Audience > Personas
PR > Content Marketing
Effectiveness Study > Program Metrics
One to Many > One to One / Few
Awareness > Customer Acquisition / Retention
Branding > Nurturing / Trust
Testimonials > Communities
Demographics > Behavioral / Intentional
Message Blasting > Building Trust!


According to Scott, "content-powered marketing" is the use, creation and sharing of content in order to attract, acquire and engage current and potential customers. He further posits that the key to content marketing is to develop high value and educational content on strategies, pressing issues, opportunities and best practices that are relevant to your audience.

The idea is to lead with what you know versus lead with what you sell, and that content-powered marketing approach has five keys to make it happen:

  1. Understand the personas.
    Define the buyer profile in terms of their needs, challenges and opportunities. Then, align your content with the persona and stage in the buying process, remembering that there are multiple roles in the decision and varying levels of involvement. It's also important to remember that organizations buy when there is pain - so take care to understand the pain points.
  2. Know what you can offer.
    Take inventory and assess your content in terms of how well it matches your target’s needs. Don't fall into the trap of always focusing on creating new content and remember that you can refresh and update old content or repurpose content in other formats to provide variety for your personas. Remember to stay relevant by minding your buzz words and focusing on the things that matter to your personas.
  3. Always be relevant.
    Relevance will always be determined by your customer, so use your buyer profile for reference as you build your content and you can connect the dots to their needs and pain points. Then make sure you're addressing how to solve your personas' problems. Relevance can always get a boost by facts & figures to support any claims you make. Also, be sure your content has enough business value and technical specs, and is both current and timely.
  4. Pass the Credibility Check
    Here is where it pays to think like a publisher, journalist or reporter. Lead with a business case or specific applications and don't make claims that can't be verified. And nothing speaks to credibility like third-party sources - use them as needed:

    • Research from industry analysts or media,
    • Customer best practices,
    • Content authored by industry experts.
  5. Make Sure it's Discoverable
    The holy grail of content is dyed-in-the-wool search optimized, which happens you have effective searching and easy sharing in mind when it's created. To do that, it has to have plenty of appropriate keywords and other elements, such as hashtags. Be careful not to overload on buzzwords or other elements that distract from the content itself, which has been created to appeal to the persona you know so well.

Once you put these content-powered marketing approaches to work, look for ways to add to your own content by sharing third-party content that's relevant, and find ways to collaborate with your peers. Doing that helps you stay fresh and connected with the context around you, and it bolsters the trust level you're trying to build with your personas.

As always, thank you for following and let me know what you think.


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I held a number of marketing roles at SAS as Content Strategist, Industry Field Marketing and as Go-to-Marketing Lead for our Customer Intelligence Solutions. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions, and sometimes challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I am an avid downhill snow skier, hiker and beach enthusiast. I stay busy with my family, volunteering for civic causes, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and get by with passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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