WARNING: If you have corporate comms or brand stewards reading over your shoulder you might want to have them avert their eyes while you read this post.
As a B2B technology marketer my heart belongs to lead gen. Lead gen has always has been my bias and it always will be. And when developing marketing content I often make decisions that favor lead gen over branding and thought leadership.
Here are a couple of examples and tips for how I like to tune content marketing for optimal lead generation.
1. Commission your content rather than creating it yourself
You probably have a good idea what you want and the capability to write, design, and produce the content yourself. But it is often well worth the investment to spend some marketing budget on a commissioned white paper, demo, case study, webinar, podcast, or video. Check with an analyst that covers your technology or a trade pub that covers your sector, most will offer commissioned content creation.
Rather than publishing your own white paper or eBook, commission a trade pub or analyst to do it. Rather than creating your own webcast or podcast, focus on becoming a guest speaker on an already-established podcast with strong veiwership among your target market. Or tap a channel partner for content creation (for example, Salesforce has their AppExchange Marketing Program that offers content development programs like demos and video case studies for Salesforce ISV partners).
Why should you pay someone else to do it if you are capable of doing it yourself for free?
Because sales prospects will perceive it to be more valuable and with greater 3rd party independent credibility if it comes from an analyst or influential channel partner or respected publisher.
Your corporate communications department might not want to hear this, but prospects will be more inclined to click and register and download and consume your content if it is coming from a 3rd party objective brand that they trust, rather than your brand — in fact, depending on your brand reputation they may dismiss your custom created content as un-authoritative and biased with an obvious vested interest in trying to sell them something.
2. Emphasize the publisher brand more than your own
Once you’ve decided to commission your content from a 3rd party rather than creating it yourself, you’ll be faced with design questions: should the design and promotion of the asset represent your own brand or the publisher’s brand?
My recommendation is that you co-brand the piece of content so it includes both your logo and the publisher’s logo. But I would strongly encourage you to favor the prominence of the publisher’s brand. Again, it is a matter of emphasizing the brand that has more authority, to maximize the impact and response of your target audience.
Here are some examples of how SDL and Glance Networks commissioned white papers and emphasized the publisher’s brand to maximize 3rd party credibility and lead gen:
- Notice how the publisher logo (EyeForTravel, American Banker Magazine, COMMfusion) has greater prominence than the SDL or Glance logo on these white paper covers.
- Notice we didn’t use any branded fonts or corporate colors and made the conscious decision to use the publisher’s white paper template or a neutral template rather than ours.
- Notice when promoting the assets we always emphasize that the white paper is “presented by” the publisher (even though we were in complete control of the copy and we directed the layout of these white papers).
3. Negotiate lead gen with your content creation project
While you are negotiating for a commissioned piece of marketing content, add a lead gen component to the deal.
If you have chosen your content partner well, they have an audience of interested content consumers who fit your ideal customer profile. Add an email blast or cost per lead syndication program for the completed piece of content.
For example, at Glance Networks we wanted to sell CX technology to large financial services institutions. Our target audience had low awareness of Glance but high readership of American Banker Magazine. So we commissioned a white paper from American Banker’s publisher, Arizent, and while I was negotiating I had them add a Cost Per Lead (CPL) syndication deal where Arizent would syndicate the paper and deliver us leads from 100 downloaders that fit our ideal customer profile.
There you have it: content marketing specially tuned for lead generation. In addition to the lead gen benefits, your brand gets a boost from “the halo effect” of its association with the other brand.