Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Your Marketing Content is Not a Commodity

Recently I spoke with a CMO who wanted to market a commoditized IT product. Naturally, his product has its own competitive advantage. But it was clear to me that his target market would be shopping first on price, and that a feature-benefit message would be challenging to push.

Early in our conversation, he asked, "How much will a white paper cost?"

Like his own prospects, he, too, was shopping on price. He was thinking of his marketing message as a commodity, too.

But that's the last thing he can afford to do. Pedestrian, fill-in-the-blank content simply doesn't have enough appeal to sell a commodity product. On the contrary, the message must be that much more compelling to stand out. That is why hard-to-differentiate products, like cola, beer, and wireless service, have the most creative TV ads.

B2B marketers are increasingly tempted to churn out cheap content. They have hungry channels to feed, such as blogs and email newsletters. Meanwhile, budgets are slashed. So the question, "How much will a white paper cost?" tends to be the first question marketers ask.

Relative to other marketing expenses, good content is a great value. B2B marketers can easily waste the budget they have if they push a weak message that sales won't use, and the market won't read. Our job is to make the prospect care--and the harder the product is to differentiate, the more creative we need to be.

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