Q&A With Jim Burns, CEO of Avitage
The idea for the company’s software-enabled-services business model was seeded during five years as an Account and District Manager for ADP. The publishing methodologies employed by the company were the byproduct of four years with the electronic publishing division of Ziff Davis. The vision for the potential of innovative approaches to video for marketing and sales communications began during five years with Visage, an early company in the world of interactive videodisc.
Jim is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and has a Masters in Business Administration from Babson College.
This brief Q&A will give you a basic understanding, from the mind of an expert, about the imporance of considering a content marketing strategy. A common theme that you will read throughout is that good content is less about you and more about your audience.
On to the interview…
What is your definition of Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is a strategy to use content to find and be found, to establish relationships and to deliver value to prospective buyers as they research and make decisions about how to address specific issues or resolve organizational problems. It has become a key element for lead generation, for nurturing prospective buyers until they are ready to actively engage an organization’s sales staff, as well as to enable sales to accelerate buyers to a favorable buying decision.
It reflects a new reality that buyers want to perform their own research online through content before selecting or engaging potential vendors. For vendors, it is often a key way they can differentiate themselves in the eyes of buyers who have a hard time appreciating view vendor product and service differences.
What are some common misconceptions people have about Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is closely related to the strategy of Inbound Marketing. Inbound Marketing focuses on online activities and channels that bring leads into the top of the funnel. Content marketing applies to the buyer’s entire buying journey, and even after they become a customer to reinforce loyalty, help customers get more out of products and services, and to foster a referral opportunity for vendors.
Lead nurturing, driven through marketing automation systems, leverages content marketing to engage identified prospects in continuous online “conversations” through relevant, useful content.
How would you answer the question, “What type of content should I be creating?
Simply put, the purpose of content is to answer buyer questions about the issues they care about, or the buying decisions they must make to resolve organizational problems. Content “type” can be a misleading term, but it should be the preferred method, format and length specific audiences prefer. The type should be the best way to explain key points or answer questions. Types might include case studies, survey results, graphic (infographic), short form text (blogs or articles), long form text (white papers or e-books), audio or video.
What is the starting point of an effective Content Marketing Strategy?
Strategy, planning and design of the overall program are the starting point for content marketing. This must focus on the purpose of the program, the fit with other business, GTM and sales strategies. It should be driven by the outcomes that are required. It must be based on a deep understanding of buyer interests, concerns, constraints, buying process, buying questions and information requirements, preferred information sources and types.
What does the customer have to do with a Content Marketing strategy?
Most organizations think they know their customer, but this is based on a vendor centric perspective. How customers really make buying decisions usually eludes vendors.
Can a company succeed without a Content Marketing strategy?
Sure. But today, companies from Coca Cola to IBM to small startups have discovered it can be highly differentiating, affordable, and efficient way to achieve marketing and sales outcomes, especially when attracting new customers.
Thanks Jim for participating in this very useful Q&A session. Stop by the Avitage website and learn more about what Jim and his team have to offer. The Avitage Blog is a truly awesome resource for marketers interested in understanding Content Marketing and Publishing. You can also find Jim on Twitter at @salesvpi.
As always, thanks for reading our articles. If you have any questions or would like to speak with Jim or me, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . We will set something up for you right away.
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Do you think buyers are more in control of the process than they used to be?