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Mastering B2B Content Marketing with Ardath Albee

If content marketing is a revolution, it’s fair to call Ardath Albee one of its decorated generals. A B2B strategist, CEO of Marketing Interactions and author of Digital Relevance, Ardath is regarded as one of the most visionary marketers in the landscape today. She sees what brands do wrong and helps them get their content right, because she’s a born storyteller who understands how to connect content marketing to sales opportunities. So naturally I interviewed her for our Navigate series.

According to a Contently survey, 69 percent of marketers prefer organic content to licensed. That leaves teams trying to create a flurry of email and social campaigns, white papers, infographics, videos and other assets to keep buyers engaged. As a result, they often become so consumed in grinding out a high quantity of pieces that they lose sight of the thoughtful strategy that actually drives ROI.

And that’s a problem, given that the age of digital has changed everything about the way buyers think and act and spend. Old school marketing tactics just don’t take them over the finish line anymore. Rather than getting trapped in the frenetic pace of a high-quantity content pipeline, smart marketers need to step back and learn the new rules that turn leads into buyers – something that’s Ardath’s specialty.

I’d advise watching the entire video, as well as checking out Ardath’s recent webinar. For now, here are a few highlights from her lessons in being a master of content marketing.

Effective content comes from intelligent personas.

Emphasis on “intelligent.” This is where so many marketers fall down; they know they need to understand the buyer’s pain points and how the buyer builds trust, yet they have no clue how to actually acquire that understanding.

Ardath’s experience here is particularly interesting. Because she only takes on projects where she can draw on personas, she sees a lot of company personas that are mostly one-dimensional and assumptive. One example: a description of a persona as married and childless with two cats. That’s not going to guide any marketer’s strategy. Information that will includes knowing what the persona’s work day looks like; what she needs to accomplish; what roadblocks she faces; what media and channels she turns to solve her problems.

But that means we need a new approach to those personas.

Even marketers who work on developing insightful personas tend to approach them the wrong way. Their content often has one underlying message: Choose us. Not that other brand – we’re the ones you want. Sounds logical, right? Except that often times we’re talking to buyers who haven’t actually decided to buy at all yet. Think about it – if they were that intent on buying, they would have done it already.

Another common mistake is writing to a B2B persona as if she exists in a vacuum. But within one company you’ll have a range of personas having conversations with each other about the buying decision, which means we need to think of B2B personas as an interactive group.  How do their needs overlap? What’s the one message they all need to hear?

And that’s it for Part I. Check back in a few days for Part II, when we’ll share Ardath’s insights on long form content, the role of sales in content marketing, and the biggest mistake she sees marketers making today.

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