How is content marketing changing buyer behaviour? In fact, content marketing is not changing buyer behaviour.
A brief history of Content Marketing
The truth is, content marketing has been around for a long time. It all began back in the late 1800s. In 1895, John Deere started publishing a magazine called, “The Furrow”. The purpose of this magazine was to become a resource for his customers, and educate farmers on how to better manage their crops to become more fruitful business owners. John Deere published this magazine for the purpose of educating his target audience, not selling. By providing this magazine to farmers, John Deere wanted to become a thought leader and used content marketing to align farming with his expertise and brand. Clearly, this venture has been very successful for John Deere, which begs the question; was John Deere the original content marketer?
Traditional Marketing Vs. Content Marketing
If content marketing is not changing buyer behaviour, then what is? It is the distribution and accessibility of content that is effectively changing buyer behaviour. The evolution of content marketing and the way it is distributed and accessed is changing the ground rules in marketing and sales. Traditional examples of content marketing which include direct sales, static websites, print advertising, brochures, press releases, catalogues, branded magazines, direct mail, radio, and more, are phasing their way out.
Traditional content marketing saw a gradual evolution from traditional content (hard copy) to digital and social content marketing. The evolution of content marketing has eliminated geographic constraints as consumers can now read and learn about anything online, and on their mobile devices, regardless of their location. ‘’Googling’’ has become one of the most popular words in the English language allowing online consumers to quickly and efficiently search for any topic under the sun- in less than one minute.
In 1993, we saw the birth of the e-book, which paved the way for corporations to create content and publish it to a wide audience. In 1998, blogging became popular and it wasn’t long until bloggers opinions and insights were regarded credible enough to make the news. In 2003, we started to get social with MySpace, which was soon surpassed by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Digital and social content marketing also includes content such as case studies, white papers, blogs, e-books, Infographics, Webinars, Podcasts, Google + and more.
What does the evolution of Content Marketing tell us?
The emergence and growth of digital and social content marketing means buyers are being bombarded with content and information overload on a daily basis. So, what can we take away from the evolution of content marketing, and the content overload trend, and how does this relate to Advisors in the Financial Services industry? First, let’s look at some statistics that speak to the accessibility of content, and the importance of the new form of content marketing:
- 92% start with a search engine when looking for a particular product or solution. (Cremarc, 2015)
- 60% of the sales journey is completed before a customer makes contact with a sales person. (Hubspot, 2015)
- 61% have an open mind when searching online. They do not know whom they will purchase from.(Cremarc, 2015)
- 50% of buyers create a short-list before they get to the stage of engaging a sales person.(Cremarc, 2015)
The evolution of content marketing has taught us the importance of having an established online presence and content marketing strategy. Advisors can no longer differentiate by service, price, and performance. In a world where the majority of the sales journey is complete before a consumer speaks to a sales person, people are choosing to do business with you because of your specialized and unique thought leadership, that should be easily accessible online. So, how can Advisors cut through the content overload?
- Advisors need to create content that is unique, valuable, and of high quality, instead of promotional.
- Advisors need to create content that is for the consumer, rather than for promoting the business.
- Content needs to offer the consumer something that is new and valuuable to them. Advisors’ content should help to solve their questions and challenges, and help do their homework for them.
- Content should evoke conversations and make people want to share it.
- Advisors need to use their content to become thought-leaders.
- Create content that targets prospects at different phases of the buyers journey.
Where do you think the future of content marketing will take us?