How to Find the Right Clients Ready for a Content Marketing Journey?

“How to find the right clients ready for a content marketing journey? So you don’t waste time having to educate them from Square 1.” That’s a question I received at Content Marketing World.

Everyone wants clients who “get it” immediately. And many clients do. They’re the clients everyone’s chasing, so expect brutal competition to win such clients.

Also consider: the clients who are already doing a great job in content marketing may not need as much of your help.

While content marketing has been practiced for centuries, it’s a relatively new focus for today’s marketers. Many clients and agencies are still learning about what works and what doesn’t work.

Signs of uncertainty about content marketing are abundant, both in B2B and B2C:

  • Content Marketing Institute surveys show that only 35% of B2B marketers and 27% of B2C marketers have a written content marketing strategy. That signals fuzzy thinking about what marketers are trying to accomplish with content marketing.
  • Marketers are tough on themselves when they rate their content marketing prowess. Some 86% of B2B marketers use content marketing. But only 38% think they’re good at it.
  • 77% of B2C marketers use content marketing, but 21% don’t even track its return on investment.
  • Most B2B companies’ marketing focuses on the company and its products, not on buyers. Such marketing harks back to “brag and boast” advertising, a longstanding problem in B2B marketing. Yet marketers who talk mostly about themselves are in the majority, with seller-centric content found in 80% of B2B websites by Forrester Research.

Perhaps 1/5 to 1/3 of content marketers feel competent and confident when you boil these numbers down. The lion’s share of marketers still has more to learn about content marketing.

Fortunately, educating buyers is what content marketing is all about. But the question, “How to find the right clients ready for a content marketing journey? So you don’t waste time having to educate them from Square 1,” expresses an innate desire to avoid the need to educate buyers, to skip that difficult first step.

When it comes to content marketing, most marketers are stuck in step one of the buyers’ journey. They want to protect the status quo of marketing – to keep doing the same things that worked 5 or 10 or even 20 years ago.

These marketers simply aren’t convinced that they need to change from traditional marketing to content marketing.

In other words, these marketers need a dose of challenger selling about content marketing. They need to be educated about why the status quo is not viable anymore, and why they need to change.

To overcome resistance to content marketing is part of a content marketer’s job.

A sophisticated Fortune 100 CMO admitted, “We’re doing a good job in marketing overall, but in content marketing, on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give us a 2.”

An agency rep told me, “Certain clients resist content marketing, even when they see their results going down. But clients who are just a few years from retirement are trying to hang on, to keep doing what they’ve been doing until they can retire.”

To tap the content marketing opportunities ahead, marketers must show clients that the status quo is simply not viable. Expect that many people won’t change until the circumstances – a budget cut, a lost job, a new owner – force them to change.

Marketers will be forced to change because buyers are in charge now. Buyers don’t want to hear about your brand, your products, and your company. Yet 80% of B2B websites offer that kind of content, what buyers don’t want to hear. That simply can’t go on.

Buyers want to know how you can help them solve their problems. They’re increasingly ignoring old-school marketing. That’s why Seth Godin observed in 2008, “[Content marketing] is all the marketing that’s left.”

Customers expect you to help before you sell. That’s the simple profound truth of content marketing. It’s why content marketing holds the high ground, and why it’s the marketing of the future. And it’s why we need to patiently educate most buyers about the value and practice of content marketing.

Show clients that content marketing works. Show them the money. It’s all about the customers you can win and the revenue you can generate. That’s the best way to educate reluctant clients about the value of content marketing.

This question came up at my Content Marketing Institute presentation on How to Speed the Journey from Content to Cash. Other questions in this series include:

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