5 Ways to Leapfrog Competitors with Content Marketing in 2015

I’m excited about what’s ahead next year in content marketing. 2015 will be all about helping smart buyers.

Smart buyers glean the best content from anywhere and use content marketing to advance the buying process. That spells opportunity for smart content marketers.

Will buyers find your content and buy from you? Here are 5 ways to leapfrog your competitors with content marketing.

  1. Outfox competitors. Very few companies can afford to outspend their competitors. But with content marketing, you can outsmart them. Think of content marketing as a slingshot that lets your inner David compete with the Goliaths in the market.

The key is to provide buyers with content that’s more useful than your competitors’ content. Audit competitors’ content to figure out:

  • Where are the gaps in information that buyers need?
  • Which buyer questions are left unaddressed?
  • Which answers could be improved?
  • How could you differentiate your content from competitors’?
  • Which media channels offer upside opportunities?

Find out what your most formidable competitors are doing. Then look for ways to improve on their work, or come at it from a different viewpoint.

  1. Write down your strategy. Most content marketers do not have a written strategy, which is a shame.

Content Marketing Institute surveys show that only 35% of B2B marketers and 27% of B2C marketers have a written content marketing strategy. Without written strategy, content marketing always falls far short of its potential.

When you write down your strategy, it forces you to clarify exactly what you want to do. That’s half of the battle. Write down your strategy, and you’ll leapfrog more than half of your competitors.

A one-page strategy trumps no strategy, every time.

  1. Talk about buyers. Most BtoB marketers continue to talk about themselves, their company and their products. This “brag and boast” mindset lingers on in BtoB. In a 2014 study, Forrester Research’s Laura Ramos found that 80% of BtoB websites talk primarily about themselves.

Ugh, that’s boring. And it’s a waste. But it means you know a way to leapfrog 4 out of 5 competitors — just by changing the focus of the conversation. Adopt the mindset that it’s all about buyers.

Smart content marketers talk about what buyers need. Dig into buyer personas to understand buyer’s questions, worries and needs. That’s how you’ll draw buyers into your content marketing.

  1. Be thought-provoking. Provide candid, thought-provoking answers to buyer questions.

Challenge the status quo. Be bold enough to say the things that no one else in your industry is willing to say. Tell customers something they didn’t know about an opportunity or a risk that will impact the business.

Not many marketers have the guts to produce thought-provoking content. So if you do, it can put your content marketing way ahead of the pack.

Buyers are smart. Real candor earns buyers’ trust.

  1. Map content to the buyers’ journey. Smart marketers see through buyers’ eyes, understand buyer personas, educate buyers and offer content that helps them complete each task during the buying journey.

For carefully considered, high-dollar purchases, buyers need different information to complete each task along the buyers’ journey:

  • Early on, buyers need to be convinced they have a problem or opportunity they need to address. Magnify the problem.
  • Next, buyers need to see how your solution is different. Help them compare options and stress your differentiation.
  • Then, buyers want to know how other customers have benefited from implementing your solution. Provide testimonials and case histories from the customers who are most similar to your buyers.
  • Finally, buyers need reassurance to sign a contract. Reinforce your value proposition.
  • Remember that even after the purchase, buyers expect to continue receiving content. By now you’ve raised their expectations. Help customers gain even more value from their purchases. And start to provide content that can lead to cross-selling and upselling.

These 5 actions will help you leapfrog competitors in 2015. Taken together, they can put you miles and miles ahead.

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