This post is the second in a series dedicated to examining the components of content marketing. In the first post in the series, strategy was examined. This post discusses the importance of research and identifies some important elements of content marketing research.
As Demian Farnworth has detailed in copyblogger, good research is essential to securing and keeping your audience’s attention. He identifies 6 key areas you ought to be focused on when researching for content marketing efforts. Farnworth focused on content marketing as applied to B2C content marketing. Here I’ll apply Farnworth’s concepts to B2B content marketing — and more specifically — to the marketing of professional and consulting services.
Farnworth explains that research “should begin and end” with the client at the forefront. It’s very important here to understand that your content research is focused on the needs and desires of your client. Not your firm.
Farnworth explains the importance of researching both direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors are other firms competing for the same clients with the same services. Indirect competitors are firms that compete for the same clients with different services (or products). They can be more difficult to find. Wherever your ultimate client might have options where another provider might supplant you – learn about these indirect competitors and seek to create a content strategy that distinguishes your firm as the better choice.
Research your firm and its’ services
It’s vital to know as much about your firm and what services it offers. To do so Farnworth advises speaking with a variety of professionals within your firm. In the case of professional services or consulting: Speak with marketing, management, practice group leaders and others key to the development, administration and cultivation of new business. This will give you a much clearer understanding of firm value propositions and how they might be effectively articulated to existing and prospective clients.
Research how clients learn about your firms’ services
How do clients find your services? How many different “channels” do clients utilize? Are there new channels you might use? Or existing channels you might make better use of? It’s also important to understand how existing clients are communicating with the firm about new and emerging needs.
Research industry trends
It’s important to understand what is happening in your industry before seeking to conduct a content marketing initiative. Both short and long-term trends should be examined. Look for the opinions of thought leaders, news reports and social media feeds relevant to the industry. Subscribe to trade journals, magazines and blogs which discuss topics relevant to your industry. By being proactive you can develop leading content marketing initiatives which keep you up to date with or ahead of your competitors.
Research international markets and events
Make sure to keep abreast of what is happening in your firm’s international markets. Are there any current or emerging events which might impact the firm? This permits the firm to both capitalize on opportunities as well as manage challenges which arise as a result of a changing international commercial environment. To do so follow major publications – both print, broadcast and new media – which cover your markets in ways relevant to your firm and your clients.
Research will help you stand out among potential clients
Good research affords professional services and consulting firms an opportunity to develop a content marketing initiative that will truly distinguish it in the marketplace. And this, ultimately, will lead to more long-term client relationships and firm revenue.
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