“Native Advertising” is a big thing at the moment – it’s when paid-for content is put into the main flow of a publication. This isn’t anything new for those of us in B2B marketing; entire publications have been largely or completely financed by paid-for editorial for years. The practice, however, has normally been associated with the bottom end of the market. Now, led by online publications and the supposedly respectable label of “Native Advertising”, it’s moving up into the quality end of things. Expect to see a resurgence in the trade press soon.
To begin with, read “The Ultimate Guide to Native Advertising” by Joe Pulizzi or watch this fantastic ten-minute video piece by Jon Oliver of HBO in the USA:
If you don’t have time to watch the full ten minutes, at least watch the 45 seconds from this point.
Then, if you want more, have a read of “Native Advertising’s Apologists Miss The Point” on the Velocity blog. It’s a discussion which should interest all of us, and which – I suspect – will play a large part of shaping how we advertise in years to come.
Here’s an absolutely terrific free download from a London-based marketing agency called Velocity Partners, which has started to make a habit of producing great content …to illustrate why we should all be producing great content. The Big Fat B2B Content Marketing Strategy Checklist is an instantly downloadable guide to creating a strategy and execution plan for what’s often known as “marketing which doesn’t annoy your prospects”. If I was parachuted into an engineering or scientific company tomorrow and asked to take over their marketing, this is just the sort of guide I’d want to work through. What so many people love about a content marketing strategy is that it brings together, extracts the best of, and to some extent replaces traditional “PR” and advertising. The reason so many successful B2B marketers now base their efforts around it is because the message has finally hit home that customers are more interested in their requirements than your products. And if you’re not providing the sort of material we’re talking about, your competitors probably are. Indeed, this guide starts from the assumption that almost everybody has content marketing at the heart of their business development strategy, and therefore the next step is to do it better. Now, I must say I’d like to work in that world, but the implication is clear: content marketing is here to stay. Download The Big Fat B2B Content Marketing Strategy Checklist here.
Yet another good article on the B2B Marketing Blog discusses the problem of writing for audiences which have little in common, and when it’s preferable to avoid doing this. In B2B content marketing: when target audiences clash, we see that when writing for two audiences which have certain things in common, we can either aim for the common ground, or try to tell both stories, or create separate pieces. But what we should never do is to use generic language which somehow skates over the differences between the two, and in doing so creates boring content for both of them. This is something I see all of the time: you might provide sensors for some customers, controls for others and displays for the rest, so to bring them all together, you decide to market your company as providing “measurement solutions”. The problem is, nobody has ever gone out to look for a measurement solution, and if you could get away with that in the past, you certainly can’t in this age of search marketing.
A nice article called ZMOT, and what it means to Marketers on Velocity’s B2B Marketing blog talks about the idea of the “Zero Moment of Truth”, or ZMOT. There’s a good eBook from Google on the subject too. “FMOT” is the “first moment of truth”, the point where you buy something. “ZMOT” is the research you do before that. Sure, it’s all marketing acronyms, but it’s well worth thinking about. “Basically, you need to find out when people start researching the kinds of solutions youre selling and what questions they key in to Googles search field. This is marketings first lesson, applied to the digital age. At ZMOT, its not your story; its their story. Youd better make sure you fit in there.”
I love companies which aren’t afraid to be human. Companies whose philosophy is to try to make people happy, rather than trying to avoid making any unhappy. I’d rather have 50 customers who loved me than 100 who didn’t have any opinion, because I’m sure I could sell them more in the long run.
You may work for a more conservative organisation. If you come up with a marketing initiative which could divide opinion, your first thought might be to reject it because it could put a few people off, rather than to use it because it could turn a few people on. Fair enough; it’s a legitimate school of sports coaching which says: “don’t even think about the attack until you’ve got the defence right”. But don’t let your creativity and inspiration be stifled too much by the formality of business culture. This little story might inspire you.