Compete with Content - by Vision Publishing, Inc.

Three Trends That Make Content Key to Effective B-to-B Marketing
On the surface, it is the Internet and World Wide Web that have raised awareness for the interactive possibilities of content. But under the surface, three marketing and business strategy trends that have been going on for more than a decade make now the right time to Compete with ContentTM. Those three trends are relationship marketing, positioning for credibility, and the information/knowledge economy.

Relationship Marketing
As marketers have come to realize that the prime prospects in their niche markets a relatively few and that share of customer is as important as share of market, relationship marketing has become a priority.

For the purposes of competing with content, we'll define relationship marketing as the use of integrated marketing to develop non-monetary exchanges with targeted, individual prospects. These exchanges advance the sales cycle to the point where the personal attention of a sales consultant is most productive. A non-monetary exchange is any completed communication -- a mailing and a response, a seminar and an evaluation form, or a sales call and a survey.

  • After the inquiry has been received, after the decisionmaker(s) and the company have been qualified as a potential future sale or client, what then? Discard the lead to focus on immediate business?
  • When there is a finite, limited number of prospective purchasers, how do you continue to engage them?
  • When you have a new product or service, how do you engage innovators and early adopters? How do you educate them and create their state of need?
  • When you need sales prospects to give you information, so that you can qualify them, how do you engage them and get them to cooperate?
  • Short of one or more sales calls, how do you establish rapport with prospects? When sales consultants do make multiple calls on prospects, what do they talk about? What information do they share to get prospects to open up about their needs?

    Use content. In each case the way to interest prospective customers or clients and keep them interested is to offer and share useful information. Keep qualified future purchasers interested with facts and figures. Canvas a finite market with content and responses will come as prospects have a need, or tire of their current vendor, or have a falling out with your competitor. Results of the latest study will awaken the innovators and early adaptors to the needs your product or service meets.

    Offer customized information and prospects will respond with information about themselves. These exchanges of information build rapport. Offer a choice of information and a prospect will customize your information offering to his/her needs.

    Content is the way for a company to become perceived as a trusted resource to be called upon when a need rises and take the relationship to the next level.

    Positioning for Credibility
    Traditional positioning strategies are inadequate because they don't consider technology and change to be significant factors. In the age of information it is no longer possible to manufacture an image. The distinction between perception and reality is getting finer, McKenna concludes.

    Positioning with credibility -- trustworthiness and expertise -- has always been key for service professionals. Now the line between products and services is fast eroding. McKenna cites the computer business today as being 75 percent services, and how General Motors profits more from financing automobiles than manufacturing them.

    Or, in the terminology of traditional share-of-mind positioning advocates Al Ries and Jack Trout, each product or service category has two positions in the prospect's mind -- the credible position and the un- or incredible position. Which position does your offering occupy?

    The Knowledge Economy
    Over the past ten years, the information economy has become the knowledge economy. Now both quanititative data and qualitative expertise have value for the bean counters. Opinion leading CFOs like Merck's Judy Lewent lament that there is no place on the balance sheet for intellectual capital.

    In his book Intellectual Capital Thomas Stewart writes "intelligence becomes an asset when some useful order is created our of free-floating brainpower--that is when it is given cohoerent form (a mailing list, a database, an agenda for a meeeting, a description of a process) . . . intellectual capital is packaged useful knowledge."

    A 1997 Forbes Magazine article reports how business consultancies like Ernst & Young and Arthur Andersen have developed service packages to help corporations make the most of their intellectual capital and knowledge content assets. According to Forbes, Andersen likes to call a company's database its knowledge base. Another firm, Gemini Consulting, emphasizes sharing intellectual capital as a competitive weapon and "competing through competence."

    Every company posesses information and expertise of interest and benefit to their potential customers. The intellectual capital trend gives those assets a higher perceived value. It becomes easier to use them to engage the interest of prospective customers. That perception facilitates the non-monetary exchanges of the seller's expertise for information on the buyer's needs that precede actual transactions.

    Packaged, uselful knowledge can sprout from the mundane. A regional wholesaler of fuel oil, lubricants and anti-freeze differentiates his company and maintains his credibility with a newsletter and a web site on compliance with the latest federal, state and local hazardous waste regulations governing the storage and disposal of his products.

    Today you can define the role of knowledge in your business, assess your competitors' knowledge assets and strategies, and develop strategies to merchandize your content to attract information about prospective buyers? needs.

  • Vision Communications Address: 17 Westbrook Rd., Worcester, MA 01602
    Phone: 508-796-5101 Email:

    © 2001-2008 Vision Publishing, Inc.
    All Rights Reserved